In The News
Fairy Princess Dreams
By Tammy Walquist
Scott G. Winterton, Deseret Morning News
For Mara Joy Luker of Sugar House, making little girls' dreams come true is a daily occurrence.
As the creator of her online business Lily Anna for Girls - Fairytale Creations, or LilyAnnaForGirls.com, Luker handmakes tutus, leotards, crowns, ballet slippers, fairy wands and fairy wings — all the necessary items for the perfect fairy-princess costume.
"I get to be the fairy godmother and make scrumptious creations little girls love," she said.
Luker loved to play dress-up as a child in costumes her mother made. She loves that now she gets to be the means for little girls all over to have dress-up clothes they will love.
Luker designs many of her tutus based on the combination of silk flowers, tulle and ribbon she finds. She loves going into the wholesale floral shop where she buys the silk flowers adorning her tutus and finding flowers she can base her latest creations on.
"(My favorite thing) is creating new things and making new designs," she said. "I like it because then they're not all the same. It keeps a newness in it every day."
When Luker first launched her business it took her a long time to make each tutu, as the tulle fabric is easily caught. However, she now has the process down to an art. It takes around 45 minutes to make a single tutu, but if she does several in a row she can do up to six in three hours.
"I want them to be perfect. I focus on getting each one perfect. I'm careful on every tutu," she said, also noting that the more one does something the easier it gets.
She is also happy to make custom-designed tutus per a customer's request. A few months ago she made two dozen custom white tutus with red sashes for a Boise dance studio's recital, as they were performing Alice in Wonderland. In other instances people want elaborate tutus with rhinestones on them or additional silk flowers.
Luker likes the fact that her business can bring others joy.
"I like knowing that I made others happy," she said. "I especially like hearing back when customers express appreciation."
Over the past three years, Luker's business has come far from its humble beginnings. It all came about from a tutu that Luker made for her oldest daughter, Lily Anna.
Luker was playing the piano for a dance studio and would bring her 2-year-old, Lily Anna, with her. One day she made a tutu for Lily Anna, just for fun. The dance teacher was so impressed by the tutu that she told Luker she should make tutus to sell to others. Luker made tutus for dancers in the studio, and everyone loved them.
She decided to expand to make not only tutus but also leotards, fairy wings and crowns. She hired an online designer from Seattle to do her Web site while she provided the pictures and text to go with it. The designer helped her come up with the fairy-tale theme for the site with the castle and clouds. Lily Anna for Girls — Fairytale Creations had officially launched.
Luker didn't experience immediate success. Business started very slow but has steadily increased and expanded. Both Christmas and Halloween sales pick up dramatically, and Luker finds she is so busy that she can hardly keep up with the demand. During the busy times, Luker will sometimes hire out work to local seamstresses.
Orders come from all over the world from coast to coast from the United States to Nova Scotia and from Germany to Singapore. After all the day's orders have been filled, Luker is able to work on her favorite part of the business: creating new designs.
"I would like to spend more time creating. There's dozens of styles I would like to add to my line," Luker said.
She enjoys creating tutus different from the traditional pink. She likes unusual color combinations such as the Woodland Rose tutu, which features a mint green tulle over a darker green with a vivid pink rose belt or the Sunflower tutu made from yellow tulle with a mossy green ribbon belt with a sunflower.
The fact that her creations allow her to be part of many little girls' special occasions or be the means of bringing them such joy always makes Luker happy.
"It's fun to get positive responses. I love it when I hear 'Hannah loved her tutu' because I know little girls are wearing a fluffy tutu," she said. "Moms even get excited to open the box with the tutu in it."
One story that stands out in Luker's mind is from an order she filled for a little girl with Down syndrome in Florida. The girl's grandmother had ordered the tutu, which was custom-made white with pink silk flowers and fairy wings. The grandmother was so excited about it that she opened the box while her granddaughter was gone.
After putting on her new costume, the girl went with her family to her favorite restaurant where she received a standing ovation. She was officially princess for a day.
"I felt like I was part of the party . . . when her grandmother wrote and told me about it," Luker said. "I love that my creations can help little girls' birthdays be special."
Running her own business has taught Luker many things.
"I've learned that anything is possible," she said. "I also discovered that anything goes in this modern day. You can have fun with it. If you put your heart into it others can tell. You can do whatever you want as long as it's done tastefully."
Above all, she loves that the costumes can create a magic for girls and their families.
"It's definitely a creative process to create a high-quality, beautiful item," she said. "It's like a dream come true and is magic being able to make something a little girl can share with her family. If there's a little girl dancing and playing dress-up in a beautiful tutu, the whole family can share in the fun of it. It's magic being able to see little girls be princesses or fairies."