It’s been a whirlwind week - Facebook live streaming, preparation for Christmas, and the start of the first Tutti Frutti Clothing brand rep search - so much going on and to do!
This blog post is to take a moment to stop and spend some time introducing myself to you and share with you who I am and why I do what I do. It's hard to write a post like this without it sounding a bit like a job interview, potted history or CV but I hope that it gives some insight into Tutti Frutti Clothing and me!
Who am I?
My name is Ali and I run Tutti Frutti Clothing. I have a deep love of old musicals (especially Seven Bridges for Seven Brothers and anything with Gene Kelly in). I also have a husband, 3 children, 4 chickens and a cat.
I live in Hertfordshire with all these lovely people and poultry (and the cat) and run Tutti Frutti Clothing from my dining room. We used to eat in the dining room but Tutti Frutti Clothing has grown so much I can no longer clear it away when we need to eat. And so we sit round a tiny 3 foot round table in the kitchen. All 5 of us. It is a bit of a squeeze...
Before I started my own business I was a stay-at-home-mum for 2 years and before that I was the PA to the Managing Director of the Barbican Arts Centre in London. I loved working at the Barbican Centre. It was so varied and interesting. I still love to visit although 3 small children limits the amount of times I have been able to go...
So there we have it. That is me in a nutshell.
I guess the question is why did I decide to start making kids clothes and start my own business?
It began after a love of sewing clothes for my children took over and I realised I wanted to take it more seriously. It began when people asked if I sold what I made and looked shocked when I said I didn't. It began when I realised that my 'baby brain' was starting to disappear and I actually had a working brain that could remember things, and do things well!
It started small in 2015 with a few stalls at local craft fairs. The first fair I did the pitch fee was £10 and I sold one t-shirt for £12. I stood there all day and came home witha profit of £2. BUt someone bought something. Something I made. It was then I realised that people would buy my clothe and it was then I started to take it seriously!
So I began a Facebook page and started taking orders.
Have you been around since I began? Then you might remember that in the early days I would make anything you wanted from any fabric I had in stock. I had a photo album of every fabric I owned and would make whatever you wanted. However, I found this pretty time consuming and it became apparent this was not the direction I wanted my business to go. This was pretty time consuming and was just not what I wanted for my business.
Over time my thoughts and ideas progressed and I decided to run a ready to wear collection. So in late 2016 (October 1 to be exact!) I launched the first ready to wear collection - Ready to Play. It was a collection of a handful of pieces that I had already made and sold online through Etsy. It was a massive success for me and highlighted that ready to wear and made to order (not custom made) was the future for me.
I carried on developing my ideas, getting myself out to craft markets and fairs and advertising Tutti Frutti Clothing locally - slowly but surely the orders increased.
In March 2017 I entered and WON(!) the Theo Paphitis #SBS (Small Business Sunday) competition over on Twitter. It is a competition for small business to enter each week - just send a tweet the Theo on a Sunday evening and if you win then Thso retweets your tweet and you gain access to his #SBS community. I am going to the awards ceremony in February next year so will post about that after the event!
The response to winning #SBS was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! Twitter followers came flooding in and the story made my local paper! I even went on BBC Radio Three Counties Afternoon Show and did a live interview. It was so much fun. It gave me a real confidence that I could do this. This actually could be a success. And I was on cloud nine for weeks afterwards!
In July I made that difficult decision to stop the popular mermaid leggings (you can read more about that choice in this blog post) and I transferred from just bold clothes for little people to ethical and sustainable clothing for 0-8 year olds.
This decision led to me being a finalist in the Blue Patch Awards in both the Best New Business and the People’s Prize (where I was first runner up - so thank you to everyone who voted for me!)
I had finally found my place in the world of small business.
But not the end...
Now, as we head towards the end of the year I can safely say that this has been the most exciting year ever.
Awards, twitter explosions, a change of direction and the courage to discontinue a best seller. I am overwhelmed by you support and your encouragement!
I hope that this short post gives you small idea who is behind the Tutti Frutti Clothing brand.
I am not a big, faceless organisation but rather one woman who loves sewing and wants to change things with clothes that have minimal impact on the planet and the us - the people that live here.