Olympics’ skater ices retail trade

Life had been a whirligig for Rosalynn Sumners since she began skating circles around an ice-rink at the age of 7.

Life had been a whirligig for Rosalynn Sumners since she began skating circles around an ice-rink at the age of 7.

Her schedule often varied, from Disney and Stars on Ice tours to world figure skating competitions and the Olympics.

And then life stood still for the Kirkland resident.

A few years ago, the three-time U.S. figure-skating champ and Olympic silver medalist decided to take some time off after 20 years of touring.

At first, the itch for hard work came and she soothed it by starting a residential real estate development company - Silver Lining Development. But as the changing housing market built up her frustration, she dug in to her artistic talents that she had honed on the ice and opened two Kirkland shops on Lake Street.

“It’s definitely nice not to be cold all the time,” laughs Sumners, 44, on a recent afternoon at her adjoining stores - Bella Tesori and Bella Bambini. “My office was an ice rink.”

As she stoops to pet Skeeter, her Shiatsu who greets customers at the doorway, a family walks in to chat with her. They are her old neighbors when she lived in her Rose Hill condo, before up-sizing to a custom Kirkland home.

Sumners always has had a real passion for home decor and custom furniture. Each year she looks forward to the Street of Dreams “and then I traveled so much and spent so many months in hotels, that coming home was just always so important,” she explained.

She also has collected beautiful odds and ends from all over the world, which ignited the idea for Bella Tesori - Italian for “beautiful treasures.” The home decor shop offers everything from glassware, modern vases and candles, to custom metal necklaces ($200) and a stone top table ($1,400).

“It’s the kind of stuff you just don’t see everywhere,” Sumners said, pointing to a bureau chest with hand painted green and white stripes ($1,195).

She opened her first shop last October and then a month later her smaller store, Bella Bambini, which means “beautiful children.” At first, the 650-square-foot space that now houses her second shop was used as storage space.

Until she went to a baby shower and was struck with an idea how to utilize the space.

She drove all over Kirkland looking for a spot where she could find a quick and quality baby gift for her sister-in-law. She was running late and said, “That’s it - there’s nothing in Kirkland.”

She ended up driving to Redmond for the gift.

She contacted an old friend, Jenny Ruffell, who managed another baby apparel store in Kirkland before it closed, and Ruffell has since joined Sumners at Bella Bambini.

The store offers baby gifts, such as photo albums, hangers, book ends and a rocking chair. It also features clothes for newborns to toddlers, including onsies, Jack and Lily slippers ($29.95), hand-knit sweaters ($58), and a Purepensee Belgian line of button-down shirts ($52.95).

Sumners mom, Betty, also contributes to the store and makes sets of romper pants, fold up hats and teddy bears.

Both of her stores also offer custom services, included custom murals at Bella Bambini and custom faux painting, furniture and interior decorating services at Bella Tesori.

So far, she has “just touched the tip of the iceberg” finding her treasures in New York and Seattle show rooms. But her finds are global in scope, ranging from Indonesian furniture to lamps from the Philippines, which pack her nearby warehouse behind Anthony’s Home Port restaurant.

“People ask, ‘well, how are you doing,’ and I don’t really know because I’ve never done it before,” Sumners said of her stores.

She’s learning everything as she goes and “it’s definitely a whole, cool new adventure.”

Carrie Wood can be reached at cwood@reporternewspapers.com or 425-453-4290.

Bella Bambini

and Bella Tesori

1 Lake Street, Kirkland

Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 12-5 p.m. Sunday. Closed Monday. For information, call 425-822-7200.