Sometimes you discover new products and get excited by how gorgeous they are. This happened a few weeks back when a friend tagged me in a Facebook post about new website TutuTallulah.com. My friend thought it was right up my street – and she was right.
Founded by Imogen Uttley, TutuTallulah.com sells beautiful handmade tulle tutus for kids. At £30 (or £35 for the sparkly versions) they’re not cheap, but I genuinely don’t mind paying a bit extra for something so lovingly made by hand. Oh, and it helps that they are so darned cute. Imogen started TutuTallulah after deciding not to go back to her job in TV, following the birth of her second child (named yes, you guess it!) Tallulah. Here, she explains where her inspiration comes from and what it’s like to start a brand new business…
Imogen, tell me about yourself and your family.
“Hello – well, to start things off I’m Imogen Uttley, Director and Founder of tututallulah.com. I grew up in Harrow-on-the-Hill and moved to the wonderful world of Kensal, London NW10 in my early twenties. I have two gorgeous sprogs – Finley (aged 5) and Tallulah (aged 14 months), and an equally gorgeous and very talented scriptwriter husband, Simon. I drive my family bonkers by singing off key all the time. Fortunately I dance better than I can sing – dancing has always been one of my great loves and part of the inspiration behind TutuTallulah.”
When did you set up TutuTallulah?
“The light bulb moment happened last December. Since then I have developed the idea, done a lot of research and experimented with various designs. I launched my website, selling handmade tutus for ages 3-8, last month.”
What inspired you to do so?
“Life experiences, circumstances and my children.
“Tallulah was born prematurely in February 2012 and spent some time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at St. Mary’s Hospital. When she was finally allowed home, she was still very tiny and I was exhausted. During this period, my son Finley was diagnosed with autism. I realised that returning to work was not an option and I began to think of ways in which I could be there for the children but still be able to satisfy my own needs practically and creatively. I finally collected my thoughts & made the decision to combine family life, the colourful world of autism, creativity, my passion for dance, bright colours and a whole lot more. TutuTallulah was born!”
What’s your background – have you worked in fashion or retail before?
“I haven’t worked in fashion, no, but I’ve always had a real passion for clothes – my mum had her own designer dress hire company when I was little & I loved dressing up, still do! From a young age I always wanted to dance, I trained in ballet, tap, contemporary & street and later went on to study dance in London. My heart and soul were desperate to succeed in the dancing world but it wasn’t to be so I got a job in radio because at least then I could listen to music all day and still choreograph and dance-out routines in my head. I later transferred my skills into TV production and really enjoyed myself working on various projects including the Jonathan Ross Show, Million Pound Drop and The National Lottery.”
When you launched the company, what was the reaction to the products?
“Fantastic! I can’t believe that something I have created has been such a hit! I am so chuffed! A few weeks ago, TutuTallulah made it onto Gurgle online in their ‘Need to Know’ section, saying they thought it was the perfect present. Feedback has been great from customers, friends and family. Customers love the design and feel of the tutus. Everyone loves the unique style – each one is individually handcrafted and hand-tied by me in London. This makes the whole buying experience much more personal because every tutu is different and they are all made with TLC! I also meet lots of lovely mums, dads, grandparents and aunties & uncles who are looking for an original gift for the little girl in their lives. Everyone has been happy with the prices and impressed by everything even down to the packaging and free wand that come with each TutuTallulah bought through the website. It makes for a magical treat on birthdays!”
What’s been your best seller so far?
“My best seller is the Princess, a tutu made from a sparkly/glittery tulle – it has been a runaway success.”
Do you think you might expand out from just tutus?
“Absolutely – watch this space!”
What’s your ultimate dream?
“I would love for someone to recommend to me my own product! I’d love to expand the range and tweak the designs so that TutuTallulah can be stocked throughout the UK in the best shops. I am also looking into the possibilities of franchising TutuTallulah so as to give other mums the opportunity of returning to work in a way that enables them to still focus on the more important things of life.”
You live in North London – where are your favourite places to go with the kids?
“Finding places that are autism-friendly is key! Our favourite local café, Gracelands, is awesome! The food is amazing, they have toys for the kids to play with, there’s a really relaxed family atmosphere and the staff are fantastic.
We’re also super lucky to have Queens Park on our doorstep – an amazing playground and animal corner.
We love Princess Diana’s memorial play area in Kensington Gardens – the pirate ship is a massive hit with Fin and the fact it’s all secure and safe is brilliant.
On rainy days the Lexi Cinema shows kids’ films a-plenty and is the perfect way to spend a lazy weekend!
My personal favourite is the Puppet Barge in Maida Vale, an absolute must!”
Finally, should tutus be for special occasions in your book, or for every day wear?
“Throw away the book – every day is a TutuTallulah day! There isn’t a day or an occasion that wouldn’t benefit from a bit of TutuTallulah magic!”
Would you like to win a bit of TutuTallulah magic? I have three tutus from the Pixie range to give away…