Model Mom: Little Leuvy’s Natalie Te Hao is living her dream of making cute accessories
We’ve all been there: Growing up with parents who only want the best for us. Such is the case of 32-year-old Natalie Te Hao who had initial plans of becoming a doctor, as advised by her parents. But the artist in her prevailed, and she took short courses on dress-making among others, and finished a program on business administration. “I’ve also started selling accessories by joining craft shows in Manila. But then, I had to go back to Davao to marry the love of my life. Davao has always been my home. Nowhere else can I imagine pursuing my dream business but here,” said Natalie, who is mom to two kids, Leuvane, 6 years old; and Leighton, 1.5 years old.
She started making accessories for their personal portrait shoots when she was pregnant with Leuvane. She explained, “There were so little options in the market back then, and most of them are overpriced!” This made her realized that this is what she was meant to do, to her very own kids accessories line that’s of good quality and affordable, too!
Her husband has always been her number one fan, giving her frequent nudges to sell her creations. When asked how she felt after her very first sale, she revealed that it was very humbling: “It was quite hard to believe that someone would actually spend on the things you make with your bare hands!”
From their very first bazaar which was a total hit, Little Leuvy has since then been made available online. The brand also put up a physical store in SM City Davao, “I was hesitant at first, am I ready to take a bigger leap? Can I pay rent, my staff, taxes, bills?” It was, again, her husband who gave her that much needed push by telling her, “You will never know until you try! If you make it then good, but if not, then move on and take it as an experience.” It has been three years since Little Leuvy set up shop, and the store is always filled with pretty things to try and bring home.
Read on and be inspired by Little Leuvy’s journey:
MB: Why the name Little Leuvy?
Natalie: One of my favorite shows is Little Lulu. I don’t know why but my husband’s family and I were starting to just sing it to Leuvy (our daughter) to that tune of the song “Little Leuvy Little Leuvy with freckles on your skin.” And that’s how I “Little Leuvy” came about.
MB: What are your accessories made of?
Natalie: We work with any material that catches my eye! We have leather, felt, cotton fabric, suede, PVC film, chunky glitter leather. We always have something new to offer! We also have fun materials like our glow in the dark leather and UV color changing leather. I am hoping to finally be able to pursue a project I have in mind for the longest time – using recycled materials! You can’t imagine how much scrap we have every week, which I am still holding on to until I finally figure out a design for it.
MB: How many product lines do you have now?
Natalie: Right now, I can’t keep track exactly how many, we just grew throughout the years. Aside from headbands and hairclips, We now have earrings, bracelets, and necklaces, detachable collars, shoe clips, and the product line we are working on right now is our functional kids room decor. We have a sneak peek of our playground décor which also serves as an accessories holder. We also have a few pieces for little boys like our wooden bow tie and party hats. We really have a wide range of fun accessories, and our favorite gift sets, of course, for easy gift giving ideas.
MB: Who is the Little Leuvy girl?
Natalie: She is my boss! The girl behind all this is the love of my life and she’s the inspiration behind the ideas and for me to keep me going. Sometimes, when I just feel so tired and drained, but her words like “Mommy, this is so pretty!” or “Mommy, I love all your Little Leuvy stuff!” are the words that matter most and put me back on my feet. I am actually glad that I started Little Leuvy, because she has become so picky with her accessories lately, she always wanted it glittery, colorful and girly! And we have all those!
Natalie Te Hao shares her tips on how to get your business up and running:
1. Start slow.
Take baby steps (it will bring you far eventually) especially with kids to take care of, you don’t have to rush everything. Take it slowly but surely and plan carefully. You don’t have to put up a shop immediately. You can test the water first through bazaars and online selling
2. Do what you love and love what you do.
As cliché as it may sound, this is very true. If you love what you do it will show and people will see it in your product or service. And of course, your business should be something you can see yourself doing for years, something you are really passionate about
3. Think of a motivation other than the profits.
For us, we are more inspired by the joy and smiles we can bring to mommies and kids to keep us going, the little profit on the side is just a bonus!
Don’t lose hope that easily. It takes time for your business to grow. Some days you will get zeroed but see that as a challenge. Believe in yourself and believe in what you sell. You will get there!
5. Family will always be first.
And don’t forget, always have that extra time for your family. Be ready to drop everything else whenever your kids need you. Set your priorities, because they will only be little once.