It started when…
I was looking to have a Washington State University Cougars tutu created as a gift for my newborn niece Piper.
During my search, I came across Leah, who had just started Tutu-A-Gogo. At the time, Leah’s business logo was a stitched heart flower, she had a few product shots posted on her Facebook page, and a website that was barely functioning, with several broken links and NO WAY FOR ME TO BUY (or anyone else) online. Thus, I made a deal with Leah, you make me the WSU tutu outfit I need and I’ll help you with your marketing!
Leah is like so many of you. The owner of a new(er) business, full of drive and passion, adorable products, excellent service, but could use some help with her branding and marketing efforts – I mean come on, a girl can’t know and be great at everything! Our first step was to create a new logo that fully represented the business (notice how we took the original heart and encompassed it into the new design), then we discussed staging some beautiful promotional photo’s and product shots. And then because most businesses just starting out don’t have an unlimited supply of money, Leah waited until she started making some sales and then asked us to design her website – with online shopping – that she still has today!
I can’t tell you how proud I am to interview Leah and share her business of almost two years with all of you. I hope her words of wisdom and journey can inspire and help you in your own business journey. Enjoy!
NAME OF COMPANY: Tutu-A-Gogo
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WEBSITE URL: www.tutu-a-gogo.com
YOUR NAME: Leah Wilson, Owner/designer
DESCRIPTION OF COMPANY: Tutu-A-Gogo “A girly Boutique and Birthday Party Place”
YEAR BIZ LAUNCHED: November 2011
TARGET CUSTOMER/NICHE: Mothers of little girls aged 12 and under!
HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA TO START TUTU-A-GOGO?
I had gone to soooo many in home parties over the years, with products from purses to candles to clothing and more! One night I started thinking about how I attend all of these events but NEVER buy anything, but if there were cute things for my kids I would totally buy them! It got my mind racing and I started thinking about how difficult it was to buy my daughters 1st Birthday outfit – I spent hours on Etsy searching, but I like to touch and feel what I’m buying and this didn’t allow me to do so! Then it all clicked!! In home shopping parties with a focus on girls dress up outfits and accessories!
Shortly after I launched Tutu-A-Gogo we were presented with an opportunity to have a “pop up” shop in our local downtown area – I was so scared to all of a sudden have a store front on a business I had just started a few months before! This November, will be 2 years in our shop! Since opening, we have expanded into custom tutus, shirts and accessories! We make about 40% of the items in our shop!
SOURCE OF INSPIRATION:
I was inspired to start the business after searching for a 1st Birthday outfit for my daughter Riley! I am inspired daily by other business women; reading articles about successful business women and seeing what one can do when they fully set their mind to something!
WHERE DID THE NAME TUTU-A-GOGO COME FROM AS WELL AS, THE THEME/OVERALL IMAGE/BRAND?
The name came from the fact that we were selling tutus and that we were “mobile” as in “gogo”. I think it is a great name and I feel that having such a FUN name has been part of our success! People LOVE to say Tutu-A-gogo! It is fun and catchy!
The image/brand has always been bright, fun and funky! I love zebra, polka dots and bright colors! We carry our image throughout everything we do…from the furniture in the shop to our shirts, marketing materials and window décor!
WHAT WERE SOME CHALLENGES/MISTAKES YOU MADE ALONG THE WAY?
I think I try to do it “ALL” and sometimes that is a mistake! I feel like at times I run myself ragged having to get everything done! I am a mother to two amazing children, a wife to the best man in the world, and a business owner. Trying to do it all and being “ON” all the time is difficult. I am just now in year #2 learning to let go a little and take some time off.
WHAT ARE YOUR BEST MARKETING STRATEGIES TO GETTING NEW CUSTOMERS?
We are very active on Social Media and we gain A LOT of exposure to our products from Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest!
Birthday Parties were a great way to extend our reach to new customers. Once one little girl has one…all of her friends want one too! We do anywhere from 2-6 parties a weekend in our little 700 sq ft shop! For us, the parties serve as more than just a party, we typically have a couple hundred dollars extra in sales as well as gain new customers who would not typically have come to our shop! We also do a parade downtown at the end of our parties with the girls all dressed up! This serves two purposes: (1) the girls think it is soooo fun and (2) for the people eating dinner or strolling around the town, they hear the ruckus lol and want to see what is going on! We have gained so many new customers and birthday bookings from our Birthday Parades.
We do a lot of vendor events, expos and craft fairs. We get so much exposure from these events! We typically sell a lot of products as well as meet new customers!
Also, the best marketing for a girly shop is little girls!!!! Once a little girl wears a tutu to school ALL her friends HAVE to have one too! The 5th grade girls here in our town made up Tutu Tuesdays, this is where all the girls wore tutus from our shop once a week! It was amazing for business!!! Same with our parties!
IF YOU HAD TO NAME ONE THING THAT HAS BEEN INSTRUMENTAL IN CATAPULTING YOUR BUSINESS TO SUCCESS, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Having a store front from the beginning! Had we not been blessed with having the “pop up” shop, we would never have had so many additional growth opportunities!
FOR SOMEONE JUST STARTING OUT, WHAT WERE THE TWO BEST WAYS YOU STARTED MARKETING YOUR PRODUCTS AND SERVICES?
I constantly talked to anyone and everyone I could about Tutu-A-Gogo. I utilized Facebook and social media to get our name out. I walked around with tutus, handed out cards and took advantage of ANYTHING or anywhere I could promote Tutu-A-Gogo. I even had girls dressed up at local events handing out cards and business info!
WHAT ADVICE/LESSONS DO U HAVE FOR NEW SMALL BIZ OWNERS?
Follow your heart and do something that makes you happy and something that you believe in! I think to truly succeed you have to love what you are doing and have a passion that radiates from within! Sometimes in life you just have to get on the rollercoaster and hold on! I had no idea where Tutu-A-Gogo would take me BUT I believed in the concept and brand so much that knew it would succeed! I never doubted it, even for a second! I feel like I got on a roller coaster 2 years ago and let it take me where I was meant to be!
HOW DO YOU JUGGLE WORK AND MOTHERHOOD? ANY ADVICE FOR WORKING MAMA’S?
Lol, oh boy! Is there a right answer for this one! Honestly, wine and coffee. Lol!!! This is my biggest struggle! There is not enough time in the day to do it all and do it all perfectly! I feel like I am constantly switching hats and roles. I think after 2 years it is settling down a little but it is so hard! I am so blessed to have a husband that loves me and believes in this business as much as I do! My children are also amazing, although sometimes they don’t even want to hear the words “Tutu-A-Gogo”! My 8 year old son seems to like the attention he gets at school from the girls! They are always asking him about the shop!
ANY HOT TICKET ITEMS THIS SEASON?
Right now it’s team spirit wear!!! We make custom tutus and rhinestone shirts for all teams! We work with our local schools and sports organizations to make spirit wear for them! We make shirts and tutus for moms and kids! We also donate back a % of local team spirit wear to the league we are working with!
Thanks Leah for sharing your story with us! And for providing us with these ‘magical’ photos showcased above (except for the picture of my niece Piper – thx Sarah!).
Cheers to your 2 year anniversary coming up and to many more years of success!!! xoxo Your Marketing BFF, Tana