Bells & Becks Women: Lisa Limer & Johnnie Chace of Bela Monde

Posted by Tamar Miller on

A Bells & Becks woman is someone you know even without truly knowing her. She’s smart, savvy, put-together, accomplished—and doing it all with flair. These are the women we know, admire, and have in mind when we design. Featuring some of their stories here feels like the best way to celebrate all they’ve accomplished (plus, how they’re doing it with joy and great style). We hope they inspire you as much as they inspire us.

As co-founders of Bela Monde, Lisa Limer and Johnnie Chace knew their partnership could create something greater than the sum of its parts. Lisa, a longtime magazine photographer who had worked at magazines like Conde Nast Traveler and Vogue, came with a seasoned artist’s eye; Johnnie brought her deep knowledge of design, from historic restoration to interior design projects. Both shared a passion for travel, sustainability, artisanship, and honoring the diverse places and cultures that had shaped them.

Together, they’ve created a collection of gorgeous alpaca coats, richly patterned silk scarves, and luxe accessories that feel like timeless heirlooms in the making. Here, Lisa and Johnnie share what inspires each of them—shoes included, naturally!—and reveal the best (and worst!) parts of being female entrepreneurs.


How do you describe Bela Monde and what makes it special? 

Johnnie: It’s a love affair with color, a brilliant partnership with Lisa, and a marriage of classic design and inspired patterns. 

Lisa: It’s a sensual combination of materials; we use alpaca and silk to create outerwear and accessories that make you feel special.

What have been some of the most notable wins as you’ve built your career? 

Johnnie: I think the win for me has been the process itself. I had a different career before we started Bela Monde, as did Lisa, and we both brought that life experience to this project. We are not naïve, but we also have never actually embarked on this particular type of small business—so the learning curves have been steep and plentiful!

Lisa: Seeing our experiences as a virtue that continually informs us and transforms into new creative endeavors. Despite learning curves and obstacles, it's been rewarding to see how we are able to adapt and grow both personally and professionally. It's very empowering.

If you want something done, ask a busy woman. What are some of your best tricks or hacks for working through a busy schedule and keeping lots of balls in the air? 

Johnnie: LISTS!! Make lots of LISTS—and then don’t forget to go back and look at them and then enjoy the satisfaction of crossing off as many of the “to do’s” as you can. Then make more lists…and repeat…until there are no more items left! Also, don’t forget to take care of yourself in the process. You must maintain your energy to keep going day after day!

Lisa: Stay focused and don’t overthink each task at hand. Know how to prioritize. 

What are the best and worst parts of being a female entrepreneur?

Johnnie: The best parts are obvious. You are in charge of your own universe. The buck stops with you! So at the end of the day, or week, or year, you can look back and know you (and your talented partner!) have created something you can be proud of.  The worst…also obvious: You must own all your mistakes. You have to be honest with yourself. You must listen to your instincts, even in the face of failure.

Lisa: Worst: Not trusting your instinct and lacking confidence. Best: Being proud of all that you have accomplished and upholding your values in the process.

Founding Bela Monde was a career switch for both of you. Why did you decide to go for it?

Johnnie: Well, the reality was that both Lisa and I still had—and have—lots of creative energy to express, and we were not ready to retire. Also, we had to create our own jobs because we were probably too old for anyone to hire us!! Ok, maybe not, but that was what we felt.

Lisa: Because it excited me. I loved the challenge of transforming a past career into this one. There is a new story I want to tell.

As founders of a certain age, do you feel you see yourself represented in the media and through influencers? How do you tackle that?

Johnnie: NO…but I don’t really spend much time making that comparison. We are just busy doing what we love and are not focused on the endless content that is out there. It feels like a huge distraction on some level.  We just want to do the best we can do, given our resources and our time.

Lisa: I am loving my age. And I feel that finally there’s some recognition on social media that age can be celebrated.

What is your go-to outfit and why? 

Johnnie: Living in New England and working from a studio most days, I dress very casually (and warmly!): Pants and a big sweater, or pencil skirt, tights and a big sweater. We design coats, so that’s lucky!

Lisa: I tend to wear solid colors and then wrap a silk scarf around my neck. That pop of color and pattern makes the outfit.

What is the thing about your wardrobe that gives you the most joy? 

Johnnie: I love getting dressed up, but I have fewer occasions to do so. When I’m not working with Lisa I spend my time on a small farm where jeans are the uniform. I am a lazy dresser in some respects. I like simple silhouettes with great jewelry and always an awesome lipstick!!

Lisa: I love my silk bathrobe. It was a prototype of an early pattern I designed and had printed in silk. Every morning I put it on as I begin my day with a bowl of café au lait…a simple pleasure, but such a feeling of luxury.

How does wearing a great pair of shoes make you feel? 

Johnnie: I LOVE SHOES! They can make the entire outfit. Black pants and a great pair of shoes are all I need to feel dressed up!

Lisa:  LOVE shoes, but they need to be comfortable. I’m small in stature, so even just a small heel makes me feel good. 


Lisa and Johnnie’s Shoe Lightning Round

(B&B Note: Great minds think alike—they both go for the same types of shoes!)

  • Flats or heels?  (Low) heels
  • Brights or neutrals? Depends, but brights can pull a whole outfit together
  • Trends or classics? Classics
  • Pointy toe or round toe? Generally round (for comfort mostly!)


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