"The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don't wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope." — Barack Obama
I’ve only seen Sarah Baxter three or four times in my life. She’s a human, my mom’s friend. And I don’t like her.
I’m sure humans find Sarah lovely, my mom certainly does. Probably other kitties feel the same way too. Me? I don’t like human females. Period. I don’t like them befriending my mom. I don’t like them coming to my house. I especially don’t like them putting their hands all over me. And that’s exactly everything that Sarah did. All of it.
Now, however, I think it’s time I revisit my aversion to Sarah. You see, I want something she has. But I’m afraid the fact that I terrorized her the one time she had me over for a visit, might hamper my efforts to get what I want.
And what is that?, you might ask. It’s simple. I want a tutu. Come to think of it, I want a wand and a bit of fairy dust too.
Alright, let me go back to the beginning. Mom and I met Sarah when we first moved to Madrid back in 2010. She was 22 at the time. Just a preschool teacher out and about for a year abroad in Spain. Mom liked being her friend. I guess they bonded over small things like chocolate and pumpkin carving for Halloween. The closer they got, the more evident it became how crafty Sarah was. She would always carry a new bracelet, or a headpiece handmade by her.
Sarah would often talk about her tutu making business and how, along with teaching, it was her passion. Me? I would listen to her and mom talk about it and think ‘Girl’s crazy. There’s gonna be no tutu making in this economy. People don’t have money to spend on frivolous things like tutus’…
She moved back to her hometown of Spokane, WA the summer of 2011. What did she do once she got there? She focused entirely on her tutus. It was during that time that her business was most successful. Incredible, huh? But entirely true. I’m always spying on mom when she’s at her computer. Most of the time she thinks I’m staring longingly at the keyboard, and I am, but every now and then I look at the screen as well. I like to cyber-window shop too. I’m a girl, after all. Every single time I could see Sarah posting new pictures of her creations, and customers!, on Facebook, Etsy and Pinterest.
That’s when it hit me – Sarah, the tutu-making redhead, was being successful! And I simply have to get my paws on one of those tutus. So, two weeks ago, I had mom Skype with her and get her to dish on how it all happened.
I was amazed to hear that she actually started her business back in 2008, when the financial crisis was steadily, and rapidly setting in. She was in her first job as a preschool teacher, when she made one for herself to wear at one of the school’s Christmas events. Inspiration came from the students, and from the fact that she never wanted to wear one as a tomboyish child.
Everyone fell in love with her tutu, and immediately started asking where they could buy one like it. Soon she realized she needed to come up with a plan to make money over the summer, and the tutus provided an excellent opportunity.
Now Sarah has expanded her product line to include glittery unicorn horns (her most popular item!), flower power wands, fairy halos and viles of fairy dust. Fairy dust!!! When describing her client base, I overheard her eloquently describe it as an ‘interesting dichotomy’ of children under the age of 7, dance studios, adult party goers frequenting raves, costume parties and concerts. And while she started locally, vending in Portland street fairs and festivals (where she lived at the time), she now mostly sells her creations online, reaching customers worldwide. All of which is music to my ears, as this means that a request coming from a chic, blogging feline living in Madrid won’t seem too crazy to her.
I still had my doubts, you know, because of the challenges the current economy presents – so I insisted mom ask – Does she consider herself successful? She does. Her business has consistently grown and turned a profit for the last couple of years. While the investment of hours could seem big to an outsider, Sarah loves it so much, she says it’s more of a reward than actual work. And that is something I can truly respect.
Now I hope she’ll be so positively surprised and pleased that I blogged about her, that she’ll forget my, erm, transgressions, be inspired by my
beauty, writing skills, story and make me the most wonderful tutu ever. Oh, yeah, and mom says I should apologize. So I guess I’m sorry Sarah… Please make me a tutu!!! Please!
The Magnificent Madam Mims
Sarah Baxter is a 24 year-old American tutu making fairy. She’s the daughter of Canadian dad, Dennis, and Irish mom, Susan. Born in Canada, and raised in Spokane, WA, she started her business, TipTop Tutu, at the age of 19. Her parents have been instrumental to her success, always being supportive of her compulsion to create and allowing her to turn their basement into an insane tutu factory. She now lives in Barcelona, where she teaches English as a foreign language.
This is the first of a monthly profile series by Positively Critical, called It’s Not Business as Usual. The finances of the world have been changing for a while. Media and the minds of those who are short-sighted have and will continue to focus on the negative, calling this a crisis. Both me, and my mom firmly believe that this is a wonderful time for citizens of the world to reinvent ourselves and evolve. To prove so, we aim to share with you as many success stories as we can find of real people who are making it happen.
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