'Things are blooming here': Bella Rose and the business of dressing Derby fans

Posted at 3:11 PM, Apr 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-28 19:23:51-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The mood Inside Betty Spains’ Bella Rose Boutique in downtown Lexington is a stark contrast from what it was like a year ago at this time.

“We’re tired of being in our yoga pants, zooming. It’s time to live our life and celebrate,” Spain said from her store on Wednesday.

It’s 48 hours until the Kentucky Oaks, and one customer came in after learning she had been offered a last-minute invitation to attend Friday’s races. Betty told her not to panic.

Truth is, Spain was the one in panic mode last year when the pandemic forced the cancellation of virtually every event in which she specializes. Fans couldn’t be in attendance at Churchill Downs in 2020, while proms were canceled and weddings postponed. This is Spain’s 41st Derby while owning this boutique, but she almost didn’t make it.

“Those thoughts would trickle across your mind. But of course the strong will survive,” Spain said.

Now she’s back to thriving. And while that is obviously good for the bottom line, for Spain and those she employs, it’s more about the process.

“We’ve had such a good time making women feel beautiful and playing with all these fabulous milliners,” said Lucy Sharp, who has worked at the store since last year.

“I am in the business of cheering up women. The bills have to be paid, but my heart is full when that woman puts on the right dress, lights up and thinks, 'I’ve arrived!'” Spain added.

Spain lights up just thinking about the difference from 12 months ago.

“Last year, as we all know, was just devastating for business, and emotionally. This year, thank God, things are blooming!”

And just in time for Kentucky’s annual spring tradition.