Woman expands business that started in her basement
A local woman has taken inspiration from her late mother to expand her business.
Michelle Stollard started Belle’s Embroidery out of her basement in August 2014. She moved the business into Skyline Plaza this January, being able to appreciate the new location for about three months before the COVID-19 pandemic forced her to temporarily shut down. She was able to open back up in early June.
The business — named after the nickname her parents gave her as a child — offers custom embroidery as well as heat transfer vinyl and direct to garment printing on various types of clothing purchased in her store, including shirts, hats and duffel bags. She does the shirts and jackets for a number of different sports teams for the Albert Lea, Alden-Conger and NRHEG schools. Belle’s Embroidery offers clothing in sizes up to 6X.
Stollard lives in Geneva with her husband, Tim. They have three children and three grandchildren.
Stollard grew up sewing and embroidering thanks to lessons from her grandmother, and the idea of opening her own business is something she had discussed with her mother before she passed away in 2010.
“I decided, four years later, ‘What the heck,’” Stollard said. “She said to go for it.”
Stollard said her customer base has steadily grown over the years and has been very supportive, expanding into different businesses and schools. She now offers masks and gaiters from material she has purchased and hemmed as well.
The customers are her favorite part of the business for Stollard.
“Working with people,” she said. “Making their visions come true on a T-shirt.”
She said people can come to her with designs — even if they’re rough sketches — and she’ll do her best to bring them to life. Something she has seen more of is people wanting to recreate band T-shirts from groups their parents liked to listen to. Customers are welcome to reach out to her in person during store hours, through the business’s Facebook page or by calling or texting Stollard at 507-383-6431.
Belle’s Embroidery is inside of Skyline Plaza, 1719 W. Main St. in Albert Lea, near Hair Designers and City & County Employees Federal Credit Union. Its hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. Curbside pickup is available, and Stollard also offers delivery for $5 in town.