We had the good fortune of connecting with Tressie Lee and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tressie, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Art has always been a part of my life! Drawing, painting, sculpture, bead making,
crafting, etc., I love it all. I have been in graphic design and web design for over a decade. Though I’ve loved this field of work, when 2020 came around, I started to reevaluate what it meant to do art for myself instead of just for my clients. I work from home, and that summer, I was in my usual routine of creating a fun summer schedule for my daughters. It was a 2-month schedule filled with educational activities, fun exercises for kids, science experiments, baking, and arts and crafts. I shared the schedule with one of my closest friends. She strongly encouraged me to package all the arts and crafts ideas and materials into a box and sell them to non artistically inclined moms. I let that idea simmer in my head for about a month and prayed on it until I finally thought, you know what, this is a great idea! I wanted to create a box to encourage children, invite more family time, and prompt conversations about their art.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Ao & Tauri is a bi-monthly handcrafted art and crafts subscription box inspiring artistic fun for kids and provoking conversation about life lessons and giving.
These boxes are designed with kids in mind: easy to make, fun to do, and perfectly suited to your young crafter. Every box has an encouraging theme with nine activities and all materials provided. A part of the sales proceeds will go to nonprofits dedicated to children. Kids enjoy screen-free entertainment while creating lasting memories with family and friends.
There’s nothing more exciting to me than when one of my daughters comes up to me and starts explaining what she has drawn or created. The excitement and satisfaction they share are what I want other parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles to experience with this box.
Representation matters. My box features my cartooned daughters having fun throughout the activity booklet provided. There is a definite need to show black kids a product as fun as crafts, with faces that look like theirs.
I have been freelancing for over a decade as a graphic designer and website designer. Having that business established allowed me to start my arts and crafts business without much struggle. My biggest challenge is balancing my business, family life, and a full-time job. What has helped me is having a great support system. My family and friends always lend a hand and remind me to practice self-care when overwhelmed. My kids also love to get involved with brainstorming and testing crafts which is super. From this support, I created a good rhythm that allows me to service all the avenues in my life.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Well, most of my friends have kids, so the spots I would hit up would be the Perot Museum and then over to Klyde Warren Park to eat at the food trucks and let the kiddos play. I would go on a dinner cruise on Lake Hubbard in Rockwall for a double date night. And lastly, for more family fun, I would take them to Grandscapes at play at Gamebox, go-karts, or the Ferris wheel. There are tons of eateries and activities that would round out a wonderful visit.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to dedicate this shoutout to a couple of integral people in this business venture: My kids who are my muses and keep the creative juices flowing.
My best friend Bimpe who encouraged me to sell my crafts and always helps out in any way she can.
My husband, who constantly encourages me and allows me to bounce ideas off him at all times of the day.