Who are the Tutu Factory and how did we begin?
Our story shows that if something is meant to be, it will happen whether you're ready for it or not! We started this company completely by accident to be honest.
It was probably around 2009 when things were set in motion. I (Luby) was working as management at Gap whilst my mum had been off work ill after an operation for a few months. As it happens the Gap Crew decided to have a night out in tutus. So of course, I headed to eBay and ordered one for £30. (!!) It arrived and I was severely disappointed with my arrival. It was certainly not worth £30, the sewing wasn't the best and it was really short. Anyway, I still wore it out but my mum decided she was going to have a go herself.
It's probably worth mentioning now that our family has generations of seamstresses. My grandmother, aunty and mum all worked in local factories making garments for Ann Summers, Jigsaw, international dance companies, etc. as well as some questionable raunchy lingerie companies in Europe. So, my mum deciding to have a go wasn't too much of a deal as she had the knowledge.
So, she set off making tutus and selling them on eBay. Our spare bedroom became her little sewing room and my grandad purchased her a sewing machine for her as we couldn't afford to buy one ourselves. She didn't really make much money as she sold them so cheaply but she was getting a fair few orders. My days off were helping her out and listing them on eBay. Eventually I cut my hours down so I could help, work full time and manage a day off here and there.
My background is over 10 years working in retail, I did Art and Design at college and then specialised in Fashion. I then went to University and got a BA (Hons) in Fashion and Textiles. That well and truly killed my love for design. The day I finished uni before the night of our big show of our work I got a full time job at Gap. Don't think that you have to go to University to get the job you love, because you don't.
Unfortunately, after reducing my hours to help the business I had a major flare up with my Fibromyalgia, a chronic illness that I had been diagnosed with a few years earlier. A little background on myself is that when I was born I had a lower leg deformity where doctors said I would never walk. My left ankle and foot was bent around and touching my knee. Obviously my parents were devastated and told to 'Go home and enjoy her.' as going by the book showed nothing could be done. Thankfully, an amazing doctor decided to go against everything and performed an operation straightening my leg at 18 months. I learned to walk with a cage and a cast on and then had to do it all over again when they took it off! Fast forward to now, after countless operations I can walk (and look!) just like a normal person. I do have a leg length difference which has resulted in a twisted pelvis which does result in days where I can't walk but is a small price to pay. All of this lead to me being diagnosed with fibromyalgia a result of all the trauma from birth.
Due to this I was finished from work due to ill health. It was a really horrible time, the people I thought were my friends at work turned against me and I lost other friends too. I pretty much lost two years of my life due to having such a bad flare up that I was in bed constantly in pain, depressed and no energy to go out and 'live'. And all through this time my mum was selling her tutus as well as looking after me.
After two years I'd decided enough was enough and I made myself get out of bed, exercise and back to helping my mum with her tutus. At this point I started helping with designing, making a website and accidentally ended up as part of the team. I still have bad days and I'm still in pain but it doesn't stop me doing what I love which is this. Making and designing tutus, even the work of trying to figure out HTML and making a website!
In 2012, we decided to take the step. THE step. To make a real go of doing this. Not as a hobby or extra income. For this to be a REAL business, not just some dream in the future of 'maybe one day'. This way we could work for ourselves and do as many hours as we felt we could. So we did it, we took the step and here we are!
We've moved out of the spare bedroom to the bottom of the garden. It started off with a shed down there. Now we have three! There's a stock room/cutting room, a sewing studio with FOUR machines in there and we now have a packing room. Not to mention the spare bedroom is now the office!
And not only have we more Tutu Factory rooms we have additional team members! Not on my life would I have ever thought we'd need other people to join.
First came our 'Tutu Factory Administrator' Laura. It's funny giving her a posh name as she's my cousin. We grew up together as sisters with an insane obsession for Disney films and a wild imagination. We'd argue over Disney song lyrics (we still do) and spend the six week holidays together. Now she helps with all the office work and keeping me from any metal breakdowns. She also works part-time on nights at the local care home and has two young children. Sometimes she'll come into work here straight after a night shift!
Our second addition is my mum's sister and my aunty, Tracy who helps with the sewing. I'm not giving her a posh name, she'll get ideas above her station. She is a speedy machinist but has nicknamed me 'Miss Whiplash' as apparently I'm bossy... No idea where she got that from.
So, that's us! We work hard at this because we need it to work. We want to carry on working our dream job. We don't want to be millionaires we just want to be able to carry on doing the job we love and be able to pay the bills really.
Myself and Laura will never 'sell' you anything. We'll never suggest that the more expensive tutu or another of our products is better for you. We will probably suggest the cheapest option for you to be honest! We want you to get your money's worth and still have some left over to go and get some drinks on your night out!
Why do we think our tutus are the best?
Of course, we think our tutus are awesome but we know there's lots of other amazing tutu companies out there too!
What makes us different? We think about you. We think how we'd feel in that tutu. We design for our customers of all sizes. We LOVE fancy dress. Our hobby is dressing up so we know what you want to wear and how you want to feel. I wear tutus throughout the year and I obviously wear my own tutus. I wouldn't sell something if I wouldn't wear it myself!
I've been a size 6 and I've been a size 18. I know how it feels to order a fancy dress costume in your size and have it not even begin to fit and find it barely covers your underwear. I've cried about wearing something that I feel 3 times bigger in. I've dreaded a night out because I hate my outfit. I've been sad because I've found the costume that I love and they don't even make it in my size.
That's why here at the Tutu Factory we make tutus for ALL sizes. We have longer lengths to give more coverage and confidence, tutus that will look better on larger sizes. We offer underskirts for complete coverage so you have one less thing to worry about in your outfit.
All of our products are hand made by ourselves at our home in Pinxton right on the border of Derby and Nottingham, England. We cut them out, we sew them and then we pack them up ourselves. Everything is done by us. We don't outsource from China. We buy from local companies. The majority of our net is purchased from a lovely family business on the Derby market located inside the Derby Intu shopping centre. The rest of our fabrics are from UK eBay sellers.
We're proud to offer a wide variety of tutu styles. Most people think of a simple straight tutus when 'tutu' is mentioned but here at the Tutu Factory we have lots of different styles to choose from. Some people say we offer too much choice. We'd rather you have lots of tutus to choose from and fall in love with THE tutu of your dreams than purchase one that just okay. And if you can't find the perfect tutu we will happily make up a custom tutu for you and not charge any extra for it!
Now it's time for you to head off on your magical search - Good Luck!
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