As a child, Rosanna Smith figured she would grow up to be a businesswoman. And she did. But she had no clue her business would involve styling vignettes with vintage furniture and decor for weddings and events. Of course, her business Bella Villa Antiques & Vintage Rentals is much more complicated than styling events. She’s also busy responding to inquiries, drafting proposals, meeting with clients, coordinating deliveries, managing inventory, and many other tasks.
Her business, which started as a retail shop 10 years ago, has evolved, recently expanding to a 5,000-square-foot space in Marshall, VA. “With so many wonderful antiques passing through my doors, I inevitably squirreled away my favorite things that I didn’t want to sell — and changed my logo to a squirrel — so I finally closed the doors of my retail shop to focus my efforts on styling events by renting unique vintage furniture and decor,” Rosanna says.
To learn more about Rosanna, read her Q&A below.
Why do you love your job?
I love creating beautiful vignettes for people to enjoy on special occasions, such as weddings or birthday parties. But I also love that my vintage furniture and decor inspires family storytelling that might not otherwise occur among the guests. When someone sees an old radio or seltzer bottle, or sits in an antique sofa, conversations begin with “I remember visiting my great grandmother's house and sitting in a sofa just like this....” It's that tradition of story telling, reaching back into memories of the past and sharing them with the future generations of family. That is really what I love most about my job.
Describe a typical workday.
During the week, I respond to email inquiries for upcoming events and prepare proposals for inquiries I've already received. I also coordinate the delivery and pickup logistics with my moving crew. Tuesday thru Thursday usually, I meet with clients, event planners and photographers at the new Bella Villa Warehouse in Marshall where we brainstorm and do trial runs of different vignettes to see which chairs we like with which sofa, etc. It’s great fun and very inspirational to work with other creatives. Then on Fridays and Saturdays, typically, I load up the truck with my crew and make deliveries to the different venues. I try to spend Sunday with my husband if possible and then spend Monday going around to the different venues picking everything up.
How many weddings or events do you have under your belt?
Only about 175.
What is the biggest challenge for you and your business?
Every day and every week, my schedule is different so the biggest challenge is maintaining consistency in my social communications.
Do you have any big business plans for the future?
We just expanded to a 5,000 sq ft space in Marshall. Future plans include building or buying a larger space to expand our collection. Until now, we've been so fortunate to continuously grow our business based on referrals, and personal meetings with our clients. We may be putting our inventory online so people can make their own selections at their convenience rather than rely on my recommendations. Then again, I’m told that’s what my clients value most, so we’ll see. Sometimes bigger isn’t better.
What is your favorite thing about Airlie?
I love so much about Airlie! The food experiences we’ve had there have been wonderful. The grounds are gorgeous. I love the decor in the manor house. I love the manor house and the gardens. I love that every staff person I meet is friendly, welcoming and professional. I love that Airlie hosts special events and is open to the public. I love that Airlie has its own vegetable garden and that you care about the quality of your ingredients.
How would your friends describe you?
Not sure... probably fun, fun-loving, a straight-shooter and very talkative!
Do you have any hobbies?
Yes, antiquing! And traveling. And cooking! And eating! I love trying new things and seeing new places. I also love just sitting at home and watching movies.
What is one thing that most people wouldn’t know about you?
That I’m both an American and Italian citizen.
Are you a sports fan?
Ummm.... I can appreciate sports, but I’m not necessarily a fan.
To which product or service are you most loyal?
I try to support small businesses of every sort. Having owned a retail store for 8 years, it is tough and requires so much work. One business that comes to mind - I love buying my wine from Wally at the Aldie Peddler because he's so knowledgeable, friendly and makes you feel like no matter what your price point is, you’re going to leave with something good.
What’s your favorite movie or TV show?
Too many movies to mention... I love the ones that are based on real stories. As for TV, I was hooked on Reign for a while -- highly recommend!
If you were a character in a movie or TV show, which actor/actress would play you?
Salma Hayek for sure.
What is your favorite song at the moment?
Oh! This is great question because I never know song titles or artists, but right now, I just LOVE Andy Grammer’s “Give Love.” It makes me dance every time I hear it ... a sight to see when I'm driving. :)
Do you have any pet peeves?
Oh, so very many. I don't know how anyone ever married me! My biggest one is typos. My eye goes straight to them in a full page of text. It's the strangest thing.
Speaking of pets, are you a dog person or cat person?
What was your most memorable vacation?
An awesome trip I took with 80 other students literally around the world. We stopped in Tokyo, Singapore, Malaysia, U.A.E. (just the airport), Istanbul, Zurich, and of course I extended my trip to Italy to visit my family. Eating all the different foods and seeing all those cities was so fantastic.
If money were not a consideration, where would you go on vacation?
I would go on PERMANENT VACATION, everywhere! Probably starting stateside with Maine and Vermont, then Charleston and Savannah... then Kentucky and Tennessee... and then head to Thailand and Vietnam... eventually up to Iceland and Greenland. Oh! And Ireland and England.
What is your favorite food?
Sushi, specifically uni (sea urchin). Second favorite: corn dogs. Third: Rabbit, the way my Mom makes it.
What is the most life-changing experience you’ve ever had?
Marrying my Kevin and moving to Virginia (from southern California).
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Keep your mouth shut and listen. (It doesn't always work for me)
What would you do if you won $1 million in the lottery?
Have my husband quit his job and manage it so we can do Bella Villa together and travel!!!
If you had a super power, what would it be?
Wow.... probably to be able to fly. I went sky diving once and just loved it.
What are your favorite wedding colors?
I change every week.