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Meet Rachael Aune of Cutie Play Tutie

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rachael Aune.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Rachael. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I NEVER expected to go down this path and abandon my budding career as an actress/spokesmodel, however out of a necessity that arose as a new parent, I conceived an invention! One day while driving, I told my mother-in-law Marci Aune (over speakerphone) how fed up I was with sanitizing dropped toys (as I reached behind my seat to pick up Quinn’s rattle), she replied “wouldn’t it be neat if someone made a skirt decorated with bits and bobs to amuse her on the go”. When I got home I began searching online for such a product, but couldn’t find anything like it. That’s when I decided to make one.

I called my parents, Tom and Glenis Murphy, in Australia to discuss this ingenious idea and instead of balking at it, being teachers, they encouraged me to explore it from both a fashion and educational standpoint. So, I enlisted the help of a few friends from the modeling world, my cousin Emma Sadd, who happens to work as an early childhood caregiver and nationally acclaimed dance teacher and my cousin’s mother-in-law Dorita Francisco, who just happens to be an impeccable seamstress! Tom, Glenis and Emma suggested age-appropriate and engaging play-based activities that comprise fabrics; my graphic designer Radit Indrajit, Quinn and I came up with appealing themes and characters for each of the skirts and Dorita brought our visions to life by constructing the prototypes!

And, there you have it; my extended family and I created an original line of adorable, interactive separates all because I took time off work to make and raise a baby. I’m so proud of what my family and I have accomplished… Hopefully our skirts will make life a little easier for caregivers on the go and “ride time” more stimulating for tots.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Aside from the 7500 miles separating my team/family and I? (Thank heavens for Skype) …Teaching myself to sew. Before this endeavor, I don’t think I’d threaded a needle. (Take that back, I made a cloth pencil case in the 7th grade.) Dorita generously donated her time to educate me on design, textiles and construction. She has been EXTREMELY patient.

I’ve capitalized on the combined talents and resources of people I trust, respect and can ‘pay later’!

Cutie Play Tutie – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
So what do we do? Something no one else does! We make EDUCATIONAL FASHIONS for infants and toddlers. Yes, we have coined a whole category of apparel! Our family business is called CUTIE PLAY TUTIE and we hand make ACTIVITY TUTUS & INTERACTIVE SKIRTS that feature visual, auditory and tactile stimuli to amuse, inspire and teach kids.

The Activity Tutu

Challenge your baby to do, think and feel! The first of its kind, “IN THE GARDEN” is our innovative activity tutu for infants that stimulates the senses and improves fine motor skills. It provides ready access to SIX bug themed stimuli constructed from mirror and crinkle paper, shiny fabrics and threads, rattles, squeakers, fleece, net and felt. The bugs are bright, colorful, light, compact and sewn securely to the outer shell of the skirt.

Keep her amused and engaged while you’re:
– Driving
– Standing in line
– Eating lunch
– Shopping
– Doing laundry etc.

ONE SIZE; 0 – 24M or up to 30lb/13.6kg

The Interactive Skirt

Most dress up clothes for toddlers are factory made, fair poorly in the machine and come with only one or two accessories. If they happen to be customizable, you’re usually limited to ONE design. I know because I’ve purchased a small wardrobe full. My family and I were sick of overpaying for cheaply made character costumes that our kids couldn’t put on by themselves and grew tired of within minutes. Our solution? Handmade INTERACTIVE SEPARATES – that not only amuse toddlers but inspire creativity, expand play AND TEACH!

Through the use of Velcro patch accessories and themed cotton prints, toddlers are able to design and redesign their own dress-up clothes as they learn about different environments and their inhabitants. “UNDER THE SEA” is our interactive sea themed skirt for toddlers. A joyful mix of Velcro sea creatures can be attached to this underwater panorama of friendly reefs and lagoons. The skirt is light, bright and colorful.

ONE SIZE; 2 – 4YRS

Customers may choose their set of complimentary patches from the options below:
– Original Under the Sea Friends — BROOKE the BLUE TANG FISH, CHARLIE the CRAB, LYNNE the LOBSTER, OLIVIA the OCTOPUS, SMITH the STARFISH, THOMAS the TURTLE and WILLIAM the WHALE;

– Under the Sea New Friends — CHARLIE the CLOWNFISH, CARRIE the CLAM, DOMINIC the DOLPHIN, SASCHA the SEAHORSE, SAMANTHA the SMALL FISH and SOPHIA the SQUID;

– Under the Sea Special Friends — BABY ELIN the INFANT MERMICORN, BECCA-CORAL the MERMAID, EMMA-RAINBOW the MERMICORN, IARA-MONTANA the MERMAID, NERIDA-JESS the MERMAID and QUINNIE-PEARL the MERMAID.

As a conscientious Mompreneur, I’m all about quality and value for money; our business was built around these principles. Our tutu skirts are beautifully made, comfortable to wear, machine washable and priced affordably.

We demand a lot of our kid’s clothing and so should you! One skirt CAN do it all: clothe, amuse, inspire and teach!

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Sewing the clothing labels on my first prototype! I had helped make an actual garment; a wearable garment!

Nah, it’s still early days… I foresee my proudest moments eventuating later in the year when I connect with the autism community. We’d love to donate! We believe our sensory tutus and skirts, being durable and interesting to touch, would be well-received by autistic toddlers and their caregivers/therapists.

Pricing:

  • “IN THE GARDEN” Activity Tutu — $39.99
  • “UNDER THE SEA” Interactive Skirt — $44.99
  • Velcro patch accessories sold in packs of six or seven, depending on the collection — $9.99

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Casey Nelson

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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