Dress like a princess
By Ashley McLeod, Staff Writer
Feb 3, 2014, 12:53
ASHLEY MCLEOD/HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT After selling items online for some time, Deanne Kump decided to open The Tutu Cute storefront on Oct. 1 in Colonial Heights.
COLONIAL HEIGHTS — After Deanne Kump gave birth to her second child, she ran into a problem that many new mothers have: people mistook her newborn son for a baby girl.
When she gave birth to her third child, her first daughter, in July of 2011, it happened again.
“Everyone said ‘He’s so cute,’ and I was not letting it happen again,” Kump said. “So I had her in bows, headbands, all of it. I went nuts with all the stuff.”
Kump began dressing her in bows and accessories almost immediately. There weren’t many places locally where she could purchase the items, so most of them came from online vendors. When going out, so many people asked about the products that she began to think to herself there was a business opportunity in these items.
Kump began by making tutus and bows for her daughter. She would text pictures of the items to her friends, who would want the products as well. At one point, one of her friends suggested she set up a table of her products at a local vendor show.
“I set up a table and within two hours I sold out of everything on my table, and I walked home with my tablecloth and my table,” Kump said.
After the show, Kump and her husband, Dustin, knew she was on to something.
TuTu Cute was born. They set up a Facebook page for the business, and within the first year online had over 2,000 people on the page.
Online sales shot up, and at the same time Kump was selling items out of her walk-in closet in the family’s home. The family moved after outgrowing their house, and didn’t want such traffic in their home. Kump started the Bow Mobile, selling her products out of her car.
“I would load my car with bows and I would just come to town and tell people to meet me,” Kump said.
As sales rose, sitting for hours selling her products, while taking care of her children, began to become too much. So Kump decided to try and open a storefront, making it easier for her to sell her products and take care of her family.
Kump looked into her sales records and determined a large majority of her sales in Virginia were in Hopewell, Prince George, Colonial Heights and the surrounding areas. Kump decided on Colonial Heights as a location because it was a popular area, near a mall, and a sort of midpoint from her sales area to her home.
The business already had a huge following on Facebook and through the company website, so they chose to not be right next to the mall, but somewhere they could have their own traffic and not in the middle of all the other businesses.
“She was online for two years, and we already had a good level of customers, so we didn’t have to be right out in the center of the Boulevard,” said Dustin Kump. “People already knew us, so once we disclosed the location, they started coming in and just spreading the word.”
The Tutu Cute storefront opened Oct. 1, filling a niche that no other store in the area has done. Since opening, the Kumps say that business on both the website and in store has been growing.
“Every day I get so many new customers, and there is constant new travel,” Kump said.
The storefront gives customers the chance to see the quality of the products, as well as make sure the items are the right size or color before buying them. Kump says opening the store has given her the ability to meet customers and help them to figure out what they’re looking for, as well as build relationships with them.
“It’s nice because the customers can get to know me along with what I sell,” Kump said.
The store, located at 117C Orange Avenue in Colonial Heights, is open Tuesday through Saturday, and Kump is there every day to assist customers.
While the business began featuring items for little girls, Tutu Cute also sells accessories for boys, such as bowties and suspenders, as well as women’s clothing and accessories, and even home accessories. Kump also allows custom orders for the products she makes, which include hair bows and tutus.
For more information, visit www.tutucute.net or call 804-520-1500.