Too Belles: Too Fabulous!
Author: Linda S. Hopkins | Photographer: M.Kat Photography
All for Color Dress – $42, Shalou Bracelet – $34, Necklace – $20
If Scarlett O’Hara were to burst to life here on Hilton Head Island, she might possibly be reincarnated as Jackie Wells-Lindstrom, owner of Too Belles boutique. After a “dream grand opening” in August, the adorable addition at Fresh Market Shoppes was the talk of the town…until the wind blew her skirt up in the form of two tropical storms and a hurricane. Not to be deterred, Wells-Lindstrom brushed herself off, pinched her cheeks, endured winter and has now shifted into high gear for spring—all without having to make the first dress out of the draperies.
Walking into Too Belles, shoppers are immediately struck by the welcoming ambience—soft, feminine, airy and uncluttered—a cross between a relaxing Southern parlor and an intimate French boutique. With pastel pink walls as a backdrop, a chic black and white awning over the counter, carriage lights, a glistening chandelier and a comfy seat for the mister, ladies enter a world just one stop short of heaven, where “shop till you drop” is not a slogan, but a constitutional right.
When you go, be forewarned: You might want to keep your smelling salts handy should reverse sticker shock cause dizziness and fainting. “The idea is for people to have a high-end experience without the high-end budget,” Wells-Lindstrom said, explaining her careful merchandise selection. “I shop for my customers versus just going and buying. I touch it and feel it as if shopping for my own closet.”
As a former advertising sales executive turned middle-school teacher, Wells-Lindstrom said the decision to change careers and open a clothing boutique was driven, at first, by her own interest in dressing well on a budget. Moving to Hilton Head Island from Columbia, S.C. six years ago with her husband and five children, she said, “Here I was this Southern belle who wanted to shop in boutiques, but I couldn’t afford to buy without thinking about what we would sacrifice as a family.”
So, she set about finding a way to fulfill her own need and help others at the same time. “I wanted to offer women on this island something really cute, stylish and affordable—and not the same thing everyone else is wearing.”
Wells-Lindstrom and a friend started the business in 2013 with an online-only store, focusing more on gift items than clothing. Eventually buying her partner out and shutting down the website, she took a year off to soul search and redefine the brand. “I wanted to think long and hard if this was truly what my heart was in,” she said. “I prayed for God to take this desire away from me and block every door if this was not the right thing.”
Heritage Hat – $37, Mud Pie top – $45, Caroline Hill gold hoops – $12, Choker – $34
But the doors kept opening, and now, Too Belles is a manifestation of all that Wells-Lindstrom dreamed, thanks to the tireless efforts of family and friends who helped transform the drab space that once housed an audio-video equipment store into the cozy boutique it is today. “I can’t look at this store without seeing my family,” she said. “It’s not just a store; it’s a little piece of me.”
Too Belles is drawing interest from women of all ages—from retirees to vacationers to working moms and teens—and there truly is something stylish for every taste and budget. Everything from the store name down to the look of the shopping bags is designed with the customer in mind. “I want people to walk out feeling like they had a boutique experience and got a great deal,” Wells-Lindstrom said.
Most apparel ranges in size from small to extra-large and in price from $20-$100. Popular brands include Everly, Mud Pie and Judith March among others. “I do have a couple of higher-end lines, but again, we’re talking $200 and under,” Wells-Lindstrom said. Not to be missed are the Articles of Society Jeans. “Every customer who tries them on buys them.”
In addition to clothing, Wells-Lindstrom offers a selection of accessories including a red-hot collection of chokers for an edgy-cool style statement or a romantic twist. Arm candy is flying out the door in the form of Erimish stackable bracelets. Shan-Lou hand-beaded bracelets and necklaces are also a hit along with Pink Alligator scarves and much more.
Too Belles has you covered from head to toe with lids and footwear galore. Hot Southern Mess snap-back caps are quite the rage with custom-designed Hilton Head Island-themed hats and more on the way this spring and summer. The shoe department is quickly expanding as winter boots make way for 10-15 new styles coming in for spring. Finish off all your pretty new outfits with Femme de Cupcakes handbags in luscious pastel colors such as periwinkle, mint green and peach.
In the gift department, bath and body products from Feeling Smitten Bath Bakery add to the sense of indulgence with soothing lotions, shower truffles, and cupcake bath bombs with sugar scrub toppings—for you or someone you love. Lowcountry and Southern-themed gift items such as South candles with coastal scents (think Sand Dunes, Dockside, Blue Grass, and Sweet Tea) plus sassy Southern-saying notepads (Butter my Biscuit, Bless your Heart, Heavens to Betsy, and Goodness Gracious) add to the fun for locals and visitors alike.
Wells-Lindstrom praises God for her success and leans on her faith when the going gets tough. “I’ve been through a spiritual metamorphosis in the last few years. I’ve felt God working on me,” she said. “When I got into this in 2013, I really just wanted to be a fashionista and make money. But now it’s more about quality of life, and I want to use the store to do good.” To that end, Too Belles hosts regular special events and fundraisers, donating a portion of the proceeds to area charities.
But it’s the everyday opportunity to serve others that most richly blesses this entrepreneur. “My favorite part of the store is meeting so many people from different places. When they leave, they always end up hugging my neck,” Wells-Lindstrom said. Humble, unassuming and quick to throw in a bit of self-deprecating humor, she refers to herself as a “hot mess.” But just like O’Hara in Gone with the Wind, Wells-Lindstrom has the charm and moxie to overcome every obstacle along the way. Too Belles is a Southern shopping sensation and the belle of the boutique ball on Hilton Head Island and beyond.
Too Belles is located at 890 William Hilton Parkway in the Fresh Market Shoppes and is open Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; after Easter, Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-7 p.m. For more information and a sneak peek at merchandise, visit shoptoobelles.com and follow on Facebook. Call the store at (843) 715-3276.