Inspired by her childhood love of Hello Kitty, Shaynie Suzanne Edwards, 43, of South Charlotte, launched her web-boutique luvtut, a collection of unique, handmade treats, in 2011. Shaynie has seen great feedback from social networking sites including Pinterest where she reaches customers in places she otherwise wouldnt through traditional advertising.
Q. How did luvtut begin?
A. My love for tüt started when I was a little girl and Hello Kitty merchandise arrived in my neighborhood store. I could not get enough of all of those cute little stickers, pencils, and stationary! When I was 18, I moved to England and ended-up living there for almost 20 years. The last place I lived was in Brighton, which is a funky seaside town, filled with little boutique shops and fantastic restaurants. I became very inspired by interior design and the handmade home decor that was happening in Brighton at the time.
When I moved to Charlotte six years ago, people loved all of the tüt that I had acquired from living in England and from my travels around Europe... so began my business venture in launching a web-boutique!
Q. What does Tut mean?
A. My British husband's definition of tüt is "useless knick-knacks that gather dust"! However, MY definition is "a trinket, decoration or detail used to beautify your space
Q. What makes luvtut unique?
A. Most other web-boutiques carry a variety of choices and colors per product which I find very overwhelming when shopping online. I intentionally chose products that go together, room-by-room, to form a sort of decorating kit. So, the 'living room kit', for example, is made-up of linen cushions, a City Candle, a Type Map, and our fun Emoticon bookends.
Q. What products do you carry?
A. I carry homewares and gifts that are all handmade with love, so each individual item is truly unique.
Q. Where do you find most of your products?
A. I source most of my products through artists I have found on ETSY, an online handmade marketplace. I love working directly with the artists who are always so flattered whenI want to feature their products on the web-boutique. They are willing to make products exclusively for my boutique and also do small quantities which has allowed me to be able to 'start small' and see how sales go. Q. What products were made exclusively for luvtut?
A. I created a range of City Candles that were inspired by my time of living in England and traveling to beautiful European cities. There are currently four candles in the range - Paris, Bruges, Prague and of course Brighton - and I have a couple more in production.... Charlotte being one of them!
Q. What is your favorite product?
A. I luv all of my products, but if I had to choose an absolute favorite it would be the City Candles. I spent a lot of time perfecting the scents so they smelled like the cities as I remember them. Paris smells like sweet chocolate patisserie, Bruges smells like crisp linen and Belgian chocolate, Prague smells like clove, cinnamon and aniseed, and Brighton smells like salty sea air and rock candy. The artwork on the boxes is also too cute! I plan to make prints of the artwork to sell since I have had several inquiries from customers.
Q. Can we find any luvtut in any Charlotte stores?
A. I have retail space at The Boulevard in South End, and I also do trunk shows at interior shops such as Post & Gray and Slate.
Q. What is your favorite part about living in Charlotte?
A. The weather - after living in cold, rainy England for so long it's a real treat to have so much sunshine! Charlotte is so accessible to the wonderful outdoor life that North Carolina as a state has to offer - mountains, beaches, lakes - we have really enjoyed living here and watching my daughter, Macy, flourish in this environment.
Q. What do you miss most about England?
A. I miss lots of things about England... my friends, the life we used to have there, and funny enough - the food! Meals in the pubs and restaurants in London and Brighton are some of my favorite memories of living there. Macy was born in Brighton and we moved to Charlotte when she was almost two, so she doesn't remember much about living there. We are hoping to go back next summer for a visit to show Macy where she was born, and I will be scouting more tüt for the boutique!