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Bella Soul Gives Back in Guatemala and Beyond

Bella Soul Gives Back in Guatemala and Beyond

Written by Lia Hobel | Photos by Gracie Savage

In 2020, Lauren Lamb and Maria Massella crossed paths and found common ground in their shared passions, which laid the groundwork for a collaborative business initiative. Bella Soul, a brand that’s known for uniquely painted hats and handmade bags and ponchos, has gained popularity with fashion lovers since its launch in 2023, especially in the equestrian and polo world. “Equestrian enthusiasts, including Delfina Blaquier, have been seen with our accessories,” Lamb says. “Beyond the equestrian community, our accessories have been seen on actress Kate del Castillo and former Real Housewives of D.C. Star Lynda Erkiletian.”

The women behind the beautiful soul brand say the vision began at Highfields Farm, located in Bluemont, Virginia, where Lamb’s family lives and where Massella worked with them. The farm serves as the operational base for the Highfields Farm Polo Team, led by Lamb’s husband, Michael Smith Liss, who plays on the team and is the team owner. 

Beyond Hunt Country, Bella Soul empowers female artisans in Guatemala, Massella’s country of origin. “When we were coming up with the name for our brand, the idea of building a business of ‘beautiful souls’ really resonated with us. We knew that by partnering with good people, individuals whose character and spirit really embodied the true meaning behind our name, we would be able to feel good about aligning ourselves with these artisans and giving back to them in meaningful ways,” Lamb explains.

Massella, who has been in the U.S. since 2015, says she knew after graduating high school that she wanted to focus on a business that would help communities not only in Guatemala but globally. “I believe artisans are incredibly talented, and their unique pieces deserve recognition. By providing them with work, we can support their families and communities.” With her family connections, she was able to find artisans to work with and continues to search for new talent and “inspire young women to pursue their passions.”

Lamb and Massella devise all the designs themselves, which are then made by hand by a group of carefully selected artisans, now extending beyond Guatemala and into Ecuador, Mexico, and Colombia. “Traditionally, Guatemalan textiles tend to be very bold and bright, and we weren’t sure how that would resonate in the U.S. market. Since we prefer simple, neutral colors, we teamed up with our Guatemalan artisans to create something unique,” Lamb says. “Together, we shifted toward using more muted, monochromatic tones, giving our bags a distinct and sophisticated look.”

Left: Local realtor and polo player Isabella Wolf models Bella Soul’s wares. Right: Hand-designed hat details.
A lovely hat and bag combo.

According to the duo, every detail tells a story, contributing to a deeper purpose behind the work at Bella Soul. “We’re here to create more than just fashion — it’s about building a community, instilling confidence, and encouraging strength among fellow females. We also recognize that the females we support have families, children, and dreams of their own. Our mission is not only to uplift women but also to contribute to the well-being of their broader communities,” Lamb says.

“Bella Soul Cares” is the brand’s commitment to supporting these artisans, uplifting their communities, and championing meaningful causes. They help fund education and the well-being of local children at a small school in rural Guatemala. For Lamb and Massella, one of the best parts of their work is hearing the stories of the children of these women who are benefiting from their contributions. 

When customers purchase from Bella Soul, they can feel confident that they’re not only supporting a local business but a dream across the globe, with collaborations in four countries, soon to be five with the addition of Panama. “We are constantly scouring the globe for additional artisans from various countries to add to our portfolio,” Lamb says. “We really just want to foster a community that appreciates the craftsmanship and stories behind our creations. Ultimately, we aim to create a brand that resonates with people, inspiring them, while also leaving a positive mark on the world.”

This spring, two special hat styles exclusively designed for Salamander Resort will be available in the gift shop. “Both of the styles were made by one of our most talented artists in Mexico,” Lamb explains. “One style is hand-painted by her and inspired by the ocean waves; the other is embroidered by hand and inspired by the rising sun. The idea of making a hat with waves on it was not just about creating a pretty hat. Waves are kind of like life — they come and go, sometimes gentle, sometimes wild. But no matter what, they keep moving forward. It’s like a reminder to go with the flow, to ride out the ups and downs. The other embroidered design featuring the rising sun is all about reminding you that each day brings new beginnings and opportunities.”

Bella Soul also plans to have a pop-up at the Upperville Colt & Horse Show, and is a vendor at the Buchanan Hall Farmers Market in Upperville. “We participate there monthly from May to October as part of their Big Bazaar Day. We also have our website, and we are open by appointment only at our farm in Bluemont. For horse enthusiasts who spend time in Wellington, we had a pop-up at Farm Stand at the Wellington Equestrian Festival and plan to be there next winter, as well.” 

Additionally, Bella Soul advocates for the Wild Beauty Foundation, founded by film director Ashley Avis. “Bella Soul is providing artisan prizes for the winners of the short story competition. This collaboration aims to contribute to the preservation of wild horses by educating students about the rich history of horses through literature, art, and science, and teaching them what they can do to protect our wild world for generations to come.” ML

For more information on Bella Soul, visit

Published in the April 2024 issue of Middleburg Life.

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