An umbrella shop where you can rent, buy or have your own umbrella restored. Why didn’t anyone think of this before?
Photo by Jonathan Shipley
October 6, 2000: It was to be a wedding with a chance of rain. Bride-to-be Jodell Egbert didn’t want a boring white tent to keep Seattle’s infamous inclement weather at bay. What to do? She happened upon a collection of vintage umbrellas. “I was smitten,” she reminisces from her umbrella shop in Ballard.
So she bought seventy-five vintage umbrellas for the invited guests. They were a big hit (though it didn’t rain after all). Now she has over a thousand vintage umbrellas and is a self-described “umbrella lady.” She rents them, designs them, sells them (she has her own line), invents accessories for them (the Bixi bouquet adapter converts umbrella handles into bouquet holders), restores them and, yes, collects them.
At Bella Umbrella, fanciness reigns: parasols hang from the rafters; umbrellas are stacked along the walls, their handles sparkly wonders. They’re like jewelry and they’re everywhere. “I don’t believe in the rule,” Egbert says, “that you can’t open an umbrella inside. If that was true, I’d be dead.”
She’s living, quite well, because of parapluies. One side of the business is Vintage Bella, which consists of parasols and umbrellas for special events and blushing brides, available for rent or purchase. Signature Bella is her line of new umbrellas she’s designing and creating herself. “No one else is making a sixteen-rib pagoda in the world,” she claims proudly, opening one up, a splendid flower of fabric and color.
“I love the ’30s and ’40s,” Egbert says. “The ’50s are beautiful too with their jeweled handles.” There’s an umbrella museum in Milan and Egbert hopes to donate her collection to it at some point. Not now, though. Business is brisk at Bella Umbrella, and the place is, in its way, a kind of museum, too.
Bella Umbrella Boutique
1421 NW 70th St., Seattle, WA 98117