For most, "casual" isn't the word they would associate with upscale boutiques, but Mara Marozzelli is changing that, at least in her own store, Paris Isabella.
Tucked away in a shopping center in Pinellas Park, Marozzelli's first boutique has been open since 2007, and while the clothes and accessories it offers are chic and elegant, the attitude inside the store is, per owner's orders, "the more casual the better." Customers are encouraged to touch, try on and play with all the items so they can find what they like in a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.
It is that intimate environment that allowed Paris Isabella to grow even in a bad economy. Word of the neighborly Marozzelli and her store filled with craveable goodies spread through both sides of Tampa Bay, racking in a select group of repeat customers. They come in looking for the latest graphic tees with cute Southern puns like "Dang Twang" ($34) from Dang Chicks, tough rock 'n' roll style jewelry from Liquid Metal (ranging from $60 to $228 for bracelets) and belts with buckles studded with different stones ($278).
But the most frequent customers know the items showcased around the store are not all that Paris Isabella has to offer. They know to ask Marozzelli for what she has hidden behind the counter and in the back of the shop.
Exclusive designs from brands like Bullets 4 Piece, a Rihanna favorite, which uses repurposed bullets to make statement jewelry pieces, or Bora, which uses semi precious stones and 24-carat gold in its rings and earrings, are only for the eyes of those who ask. Marozzelli finds some of those little-known gems during her summer hiatus, when she closes the store and heads to Italy with her family. Nothing like an extended European vacation to clear the head and find beautiful little things to wear.