A Little Bit About Atutudes

JenniferLeeandKristalLee06

Jennifer Lee and Kristal Lee, Best Friends, Accidental Business Owners

We became business owners quite by accident…

We recently did a little Q&A with The UPS Store  for small business week May 5-9, 2014. I thought I would share some of the questions and answers with you so that you could learn a little more in-depth about us and our story.

 

Elan Lee, the inspiration for Atutudes

Elan Lee, the inspiration for Atutudes

Why did you start your own business?

We became business owners quite by accident. My best friend, Jennifer Lee, and I were planning her daughter’s first birthday party. We purchased a tutu at a local shop, but it was not exactly the perfect one. We decided to do a little research and try our hand at making them ourselves. Once I made the first one, I was hooked! I quickly realized that it ignited a passion inside me. It was so much fun and a great outlet for my creativity. We decided to try our hand at a local flea market to see if anyone would be interested in them. The response was overwhelming! Everyone that walked by the booth, even if they did not purchase a tutu, remarked at how cute they were. Quickly, we knew we were onto something and realized that the flea market was not the perfect place to sell them. We tried our hand at starting our own website. It was very difficult to get the word out about the website and grow traffic without a large marketing budget to get started.

I was reading Martha Stewart Living and came across an article about Etsy. I decided to check it out. I opened our shop in 2010. Atutudes was born! The rest, as they say, is history. Etsy made it much easier to grow our business due to its built-in base of handmade fans and shoppers. It is the #1 retail site for handmade goods with literally millions of potential customers.

 

What obstacles did you encounter when deciding to start your business?

It was tough finding tulle that would be safe for children. We really took the time to ensure that our products were safe. We had tulle samples safety tested until we found the right brand. Our tulle is lead-free, flame-retardant and made in the USA.

 

What ultimately inspired you to take the leap of faith and start your business? We were really weary from making the tutus, storing them at our homes, taking them to the flea market early on Saturday to set up, finding we sold out of the size a customer was looking for before the day was over, packing everything up on Saturday night to take home, and doing it all over again on Sunday. I knew there had to be a better way! Etsy has been such a blessing to us. We are able to get paid for the item, order the supplies, make and ship it. There is no need to keep each size of each item we offer in stock.

 

What support was most critical to that decision to start your business? Did you seek the help of mentors? What support has been most critical to your success?

Our husbands and family are our biggest cheerleaders. They are always there to listen, help and encourage. I am also blessed at the enormous online community of business owners that are always willing to help me figure out a solution to a problem or bounce an idea around with. I have made many amazing friends through networking.

 

If you didn’t own your business today, would you start it all over again?

Absolutely! And much sooner. It has been an amazing journey and I am grateful for the way it blesses my life daily.

 

Kristal_Lauren Holden

The Walking Dead’s Laurie Holden poses with Atutudes tutu

Kristal_Ali Fedotowsky

The Bachelorette and E! News Correspondent Ali Fedotowsky poses with Atutudes tutu

What is your favorite part of owning your business today?

We have been able to do some pretty amazing things with Atutudes. One of the best ways we increased our audience was by participating with The Artisan Group to have our products featured at the GBK Luxury Celebrity Gift Lounges honoring the nominees and presenters of Oscars, Emmys, and Golden Globes. Our participation proved to be very effective in generating a buzz for our business. Through The Artisan Group, we also got our tutus into the hands of such A-list celebrities as Beyonce, Jessica Alba, and Jessica Simpson, just to name a few.

Mermaid

The Sutter’s at Blakesley’s birthday party

In 2013 we were chosen to create a custom mermaid themed tutu for the original Bachelorette, Trista Sutter, for her daughter Blakesley’s birthday celebration. I have followed Trista and Ryan’s love story from their first date on the Bachelorette. We worked closely with Natalie Klein of Hollywood Hot Moms to create the perfect outfit for Blakesley’s special day. Natalie and Trista were kind enough to let is use the photos from the party in our Etsy shop. The best day was the day my OK Magazine arrive in the mail with a photo of Trista hugging Blakesley who was wearing an outfit I created. I was beyond thrilled!

Miss Iowa, Nicole Kelly

Miss Iowa, Nicole Kelly

This past year we were also selected by Miss Iowa USA, Nicole Kelly, to create a custom accessory for her appearance in the Miss America Pageant’s Annual Show Us Your Shoes Parade. I was thrilled to collaborate with Miss Iowa to create something special for her big day. She is one of the most inspiring ladies I have ever had the opportunity to collaborate with. Iowa’s official state flower is the wild rose. She asked me to create a hot pink rosette necklace/headband and pin to coordinate with her gorgeous outfit. I was over the moon to see her on television. She was kind enough to be thank us on her Facebook fan page along with allowing us to use a photo in our shop! Her photo in our creation also appears on the Miss America Website and Facebook page.

Each time such amazing opportunities present themselves I just look back and can’t believe that a small-town Alabama girl could do such unbelievable things. Someone pinch me!

 

What has been the greatest benefit to you starting your company?

In March 2013 I lost my full-time job of 17 years at a local print shop. If it were not for my Etsy shop, I could not have paid my bills. I was able to support our family and not have to draw unemployment. I recently started another “day” job in November of 2013. I love my new job and am so happy there. Both jobs are a blessing in my life. I get to work with wonderful, supportive people every day. The peace of mind knowing that I always have the freedom of a backup plan is invaluable.

 

What is the most difficult part of owning your business today?

Knowing when to take a break. I am so passionate about it. I am constantly on social media or returning emails into the wee hours of the night. I absolutely love learning new things and connecting with people. I am getting better at allowing myself down-time.

 

Would you ever consider mentoring someone else interested in starting their own business?

Absolutely! I love to help others with the knowledge I have gained through the years. I am a member of a couple of small business groups and help anytime I can. I think it is especially important for women to be supportive of one another. We are the only ones who can truly understand the challenges women face in such a fast-paced society.

 

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to someone considering starting their own small business?

Don’t be afraid! Just go for it. I was personally terrified of taxes. Look for mentors to help you through the things you don’t know. Build a team of supportive friends and fellow business people. Community is key to making it. Be original. Be social. Be supportive of others’ dreams. Make new friends. Let your light shine! Only you can share your unique and exquisite gift with this world. Be YOU-tiful!

 

So what’s next for you and your business?

We are always looking for new and exciting opportunities. We are submitting one of our items for consideration to The Bachelorette television show on ABC. I also will have one of my recipes published in a cookbook releasing this Spring called The Sisterhood of The Traveling Apron. It is written by a good friend of mine, Aimee Broussard, of Aimee Broussard & Co., who I met and bonded with through social media. I am honored to be chosen to be included and considered her friend because I think she’s pretty awesome herself!

 

xoxo,
Kristal

{How To} Tell If Your Tutu Is Safe

Atutudes Gumball Tutu Header

I thought that it was important to share a little knowledge on how to tell if your tutu is well made and if it is safe for your child. Before Jennifer and I ever sold our first tutu, we spent several months searching for tulle that is safe, lead free and flame retardant. We wanted to ensure that our products would not harm your children. We had some tulle tested by a laboratory that we bought from a very popular craft store. It came back as unsafe for children’s products. I had already made several tutus to prepare for our first trip to the flea market. I immediately destroyed all of them and started from scratch. Here is how you can ensure that you have a well-made, safe product:

Atutudes Aqua Birthday Tutu WM

1. All of the tulle we buy is made in America. It does cost more, but it is worth it. So please don’t buy the cheapest thing that you see. Our tulle is lead-free and flame-retardant. We feel this is very important. We do not want your little ones wearing a tutu for their birthday party or wedding where we know there will be candles. I am saddened to see many, many tutus for sale that are not well-made, charging cheaper prices, and made of tulle that I know is not certified safe for your child. I can usually tell by the colors and styles. If it has a pattern or is glitter tulle it is likely not safe. The safe tulle should be treated with glitter AFTER it is made. Be sure to converse with the seller you are buying from to ensure that the are using lead-free and flame-retardant tulle. If not, DON’T BUY IT!
Atutudes Effie Trinket WM

2. Look closely at the knots and the hemline. If the lines of the tutu or tutu dress is lumpy, bumpy, sloppy, uneven, spread apart, you an see the elastic from the outside, or loose looking DON’T BUY IT. Zoom in on those photos to see. If it is loose, your child can get their little fingers in their and untie it. Also, I often see sellers touting their tutus as better because they are sewn. Sewn does not make it better. If the craftsman is skilled and experienced, it will be well made and last long whether it is sewn or not. I have many customers who tell me they are still wearing their tutus over a year later and have even passed them down to other little ones who are still wearing them.

Breakfast At Tiffanys Tutu Dress

3. And sometimes the photos being used are not even their own work. Do your research. If a shop has many, many different mannequins, models and their photos do not look cohesive, most likely they have stolen other shop’s photos and are not their own. You will order something lovely that is pictured and end up witha shabby looking product that does not look anything like the photo. Please do not support shops that also post photos and say, “We didn’t make this it is just to show you what we can do.” You have no idea what the finished product will look like. DON’T BUY IT!

Atutudes Peacock Tutu WM

Jennifer and I are very passionate about creating
the best products on the market for you.

We hope that when you think tutus and
tutu dresses you will think Atutudes.

 

xoxo,
Kristal

 

 

{NEW DESIGN!} Peach Tutu by Atutudes

tutu, tulle, blush tutu, blush tulle skirt

Moriah

I am so excited to share a preview of this shoot I did with the amazingly
talented Danyalle Campbell from Dany C Photography.

tutu, peach tutu, peach tulle skirt

Atutudes Peach Tutu modeled by Moriah at a historic home in Fort Morgan

I was lucky enough to catch her in Gulf Shores Alabama on vacation last week.
she had her beautiful daughter, Moriah, model for us. Isn’t she gorgeous?
And I was lucky enough to get her to snap a few pics of me too.

Moriah and Kristal

Moriah and Kristal

Moriah and Kristal

Moriah and Kristal

You can purchase this tutu at:
https://www.etsy.com/listing/186909419/peach-tutu-by-atutudes-girls-1st

Stay tuned for more to come….

xoxo,
Kristal

{Recipe} Strawberry Sweet Tea with Strawberry Ice Cubes

Southern Strawberry Sweet Tea Recipe by Atutudes

Southern Strawberry Sweet Tea Recipe by Atutudes

Before I turned 39 I was looking for a special place to celebrate. While doing research
I found a website for A Spot of Tea in downtown Mobile on Dauphin Street.

Just look at these adorable ladies leaving a baby shower tea party in their Southern finest…

Ladies leaving A Spot of Tea

I was instantly intrigued by their extensive menu and tea offerings. I decided to gather with my girls for a nice birthday lunch. The waitress recommended their famous Strawberry Iced Tea. After the first taste I was smitten. I must have had a pitcher all by myself that day.

I later went back for lunch with my mom. We go to lunch together at least once a week. While there I learned a special tip. After admitting how much I love the tea to my waitress, she told me they sold the strawberry syrup there and that was how you make it. I did not buy it that day.

Torani Strawberry Syrup

Upon my shopping trip to World Market this week I spotted Torani Strawberry Syrup in the coffee section. I decided to buy a bottle and see if I could recreate the magic at home myself. I was slightly nervous on the amount to use, etc. Upon trial and error I have perfected it for you to make at home. However, if you are ever in Mobile, Alabama I recommend you make a special trip to A Spot of Tea. It is one of my favoite places to eat brunch and lunch.

Atutudes Southern Strawberry Sweet Tea

Strawberry Sweet Tea with Fruit Ice Cubes

Ingredients:

1 Lipton Family Size Tea Bag
1/4 Cup Torani Strawberry Syrup
3/4 Cup Sugar 1 Quart (approximately)
Water

Place the tea bag in a pot with water onto the stove. Turn on High and watch the pot until it just looks like it is ready to boil. Warning: Do not let the tea bag boil as it may bust and you will have tea leaves in your tea. Ain’t nobody got time for that! Remove from heat and turn off burner. Let the tea bag steep while you prepare the pitcher. Fill a Quart pitcher about 1/3 of the way with cold water. Add the sugar and stir so that it will start to dissolve. I use a quart Ball canning jar because it reminds me of Nana’s house.

Southern Strawberry Sweet Tea Recipe by Atutudes

Southern Strawberry Sweet Tea Recipe by Atutudes

Take the warm tea in your pot and pour into the sugar mixture. The heat will dissolve the sugar completely. Add the strawberry syrup to the mixture and stir. Fill the pitcher the rest of the way with cold water. Stir well to thoroughly mix the ingredients. Place in the refrigerator until well chilled. While the Strawberry Tea is chilling, make the Fruit Ice Cubes.

Fresh Strawberries

 

Items needed to make Strawberry Ice Cubes

Fruit Ice Cubes

Ingredients:

Strawberries
Water
Ice Trays (I used heart shape)

Cutting the Strawberries

Wash your strawberries. On a cutting board, cut the green tops off and slice them in 1/8″ slices.

Atutudes Strawberry Ice Cubes

Arrange the slices in the bottom of the trays and cover with water. I used some adorable heart trays I scooped up in Target’s bargain bins at the front of the store. The sliced strawberries fit into the heart trays perfectly. Place in the freezer until completely set and then you are ready to go.

Atutudes Strawberry Ice Cubes

 

Atutudes Southern Strawberry Sweet Tea Recipe

What better container for Southern Sweet Tea? I wanted to make it cute, as if you were coming over to sip with me. I found some adorable Daisy Cut Lids at Tomkat Studios on etsy. I also found cute red and white striped napkins and paper straws at Target. I mean come on! Who doesn’t love a paper straw? I added some fun pink and white striped baker’s twine around my glass and made a bow to tie it off.

Atutudes Southern Strawberry Sweet Tea

I added my Ball Canning Pitcher of Tea, My sweet blue Ball Canning glass, my shabby chic flower arrangement from last week and my Strawberry Ice Cubes, and my cute Dipped Strawberry salt shaker to a tray purchased from Hobby Lobby and took it to my font porch.

Atutudes Southern Strawberry Sweet Tea

Won’t you sit and sip for a while?

Atutudes Hummingbird

 Or if you prefer we can grab a rocker and chat while we watch the hummingbirds eat…

Atutudes Dragonfly

Or be entertained by the dragonflies…

Atutudes Crepe Myrtle

Or stop and smell the flowers…

 

Enjoy!

xoxo,
Kristal

{Recipe} Quick and Easy Cheese Tortellini with Sausage

Quick and Easy Cheese Tortellini With Sausage Recipe by Atutudes

Quick and Easy Cheese Tortellini With Sausage Recipe by Atutudes

This Quick and Easy Cheese Tortellini Recipe is hearty choice for supper. It starts with a bag of frozen cheese tortellini with a few key ingredients to create a fresh and flavorful dinner entree. Ready in about 30 minutes from start to finish this will be a great addition to your week night supper rotation.

Quick and Easy Cheese Tortellini Wit Sausage Recipe by Atutudes

Quick and Easy Cheese Tortellini With Sausage Recipe by Atutudes

Quick and Easy Cheese Tortellini With Sausage

Ingredients:

Vegetable Oil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 – 42 oz. Bag Frozen Cheese Tortellini
1 lb. Mild Italian Sausage (casings removed)
1/4 Cup Sliced Kalamata Olives
1 – 16 Oz. Can Petite Cut Sliced Tomatoes
2 Tsp. Minced Garlic (I use it from the jar)
1 Tsp. Dry Italian Seasoning
Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Add cheese tortellini and boil until they float to the top. Do not over boil.

While pasta boils, add olive oil to a large frying pan. Fry and crumble sausage until brown. Don’t drain. Add salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Mix well. Add tomatoes and olives. Mix well.

Drain pasta and add back to pot. Add sausage mixture and combine thoroughly. Serve immediately.

I serve this with a nice green salad and garlic ciabatta bread.

Quick and Easy Cheese Tortellini With Sausage Recipe by Atutudes

Quick and Easy Cheese Tortellini With Sausage Recipe by Atutudes

Enjoy!

Quick and Easy Cheese Tortellini Recipe by Atutudes

Quick and Easy Cheese Tortellini Recipe by Atutudes

xoxo,
Kristal

{Recipe} Quick Italian Cream Cake

Quick Italian Cream Cake

A slice from the Quick Italian Cream Cake I made.

What Southern girl does not love cream cheese and pecans?

This recipe was shared with me by my Mother-In-Law several years ago and I fell in love!

Several of my friends have asked me for the recipe, so I thought I would share!

I hope you give it a try and enjoy it.

Quick Italian Cream Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 (16.25-ounce) package white cake mix (I used Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 (3 1/2-ounce) can flaked coconut
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 3 T Rum (optional)
  • Cream Cheese Frosting (below)

Preparation

  1. Beat first 4 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer 2 minutes. Stir in coconut and pecans. Pour into 3 greased and floured 9-inch round cakepans.
  2. Bake at 350° for 15 to 17 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.
  3. Sprinkle each cake layer evenly with rum, if desired; let stand 10 minutes.
  4. Spread Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake. Chill 2 hours before slicing.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 (16-ounce) package powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Preparation

  1. Beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla and pecans. Frost cake when completely cooled.

This recipe originally appeared here in Southern Living.

Enjoy!

 

xoxo,
Kristal

{How To} Order on Etsy

How To Order On Etsy. Tips from a Top Seller

How To Order On Etsy. Tips from a Top Seller

Let’s face it, when navigating the world of
Etsy handmade it can be a tad overwhelming.

I have compiled a list of tips on how to shop for handmade items on Etsy. I believe there are a few things that consumers may not really be aware of and some struggles we sellers all seem to share. Our goal as Etsy shop owners is to make your experience the best it can be. A few key points to consider:

  • Many Etsy sellers dream of leaving the corporate world to pursue our dreams of a successful business that can support our lifestyles and families. But alas, we may not have quite made it there yet. We keep plugging along hoping to break free. What that means to you, as a customer, is that we may not be at home during the day. It is not always convenient to call you on the phone. We rely on the Etsy convo system to communicate. The Etsy convo system is great for the buyer as well as the seller. All convos are there on Etsy, should either party ever have an issue and need Etsy to step in. It is an excellent idea to have all communication in writing. I mean we don’t really know each other. It’s a lot like an insurance policy, without the high monthly premiums.
  • All of my Etsy handmade friends clearly post their current turn-around times somewhere in their shop. It can be in the listing, if it is a smaller shop. It can be on your invoice. It can be in the main shop header that is at the top of the shop’s main page, as it is in ours. If you have a dated event, please look for the current turn-around. Nothing is more disappointing for you or me than to have to cancel an order because we can’t meet the deadline. If an item is marked Ready To Ship then you are good to go. It should ship to you quickly. If not, please convo the shop owner to ask if a rush order is available. We may have room to squeeze you in. There is customarily an additional charge to rush the order.
  • Please remember that you are buying a carefully-crafted handmade item. We make these items in our homes, at our dining room tables, in many cases. Often we don’t have offices or massive storage space to house pre-made the items. A lot of the time we may need to order more materials in order to perfectly make your item for you. Our turn-around times are in direct relation to the number of orders we currently have in house. Plan ahead. Allow ample time. Be patient. We promise it will be worth the wait.
  • If you receive your item and wish to contact us about a return, please be nice. You are talking to someone who poured her heart and soul into your creation. Being rude or mean to us is not going to gain you any brownie points. When I buy something at Target and want to return it, I do not use foul language or yell at the clerk at the return desk. I don’t tell her how horrible the product is. It hurts our feelings. Although all you see is your computer screen, there is a human being typing back to you. Trying to make it sound awful to us is not going to help your cause. We promise we will be much more willing to help you out when you are kind. Sometimes it’s just not quite what you expected. Sometimes it’s just not right for you. We understand.  Before you contact a buyer for a return, please be sure you have read and understood each shop’s return policy and shop policies. Each shop is allowed to create their policies based on their needs. They can vary shop to shop. Generally we don’t accept returns on custom creations, such as a different color or size we do not offer in our shop. Rush fees are never refundable. If we rushed the order in good faith, we help up to our end of the bargain. We also do not refund shipping charges. I don’t know too many large corporations with unlimited capital at their disposal who refund shipping fees.
  • We are not there, in person, to show you around our shops. We rely heavily on notes and information we carefully compile to help you figure out what you need to know. Most of your questions can be answered in the shop announcement, shop policies, the item listings, your invoice, and the shipping section of our shops. The only way we have to communicate is in writing. Please be careful to read the information provided to you. If we are answering conversations for things that are covered in our shop, we are not making orders, adding to the length of the delivery of your items. We carefully craft our information to make it easy for you to find what you are looking for. Just take a second to read the listing. If you don’t find the answer there or in the shop announcement, please contact us at that point.

If you follow these simple guidelines we think you will be extremely pleased with your experience. We love what we do, do it with passion and love to share our creations with you. We never want you to be disappointed. We believe that a small shift in how you think about shopping for handmade items will make it a positive and enjoyable experience for everyone. We are all used to instant gratification in our shopping experience for mass produced, imported items. By shopping handmade you are making a difference in the world. You are touching many lives. You are employing someone with a dream. You are supporting your country’s economy. If you buy from me you are buying something produced in the United States using materials made in the United States. You are keeping jobs here on our soil. And that, my friend, is something to be proud of. Not many products sold in the United States today can say that.

Why be like everyone else?
Be unique.
Nurture dreams.
Support small business.
Buy handmade.

 

xoxo,
Kristal

 

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