We had the good fortune of connecting with Terry Worley and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Terry, what makes you most proud of the business you’ve built?
I started TUTUTerry almost 6 years ago, at age 50, and have had growing success over the years. This past year, I have had a significant growth in private clients from around the world for my designs. What makes me incredibly proud about my business is that I now have a following of dancers and clients that have grown to trust me in aesthetic decisions while knowing they will get a product that fits well and is appropriate to their own aesthetic, age, body type and artistic expression on stage. I start out with every client with a long conversation, whether in my studio or over the phone or email about/with the dancer. During this conversation I am able to ascertain the more personal desires of the dancer while getting a sense of the person behind the character they are trying to showcase on stage. It is the best part of my new career. I love getting to know the client and I get to meet many interesting people along the way. I also always ask for a picture because that helps me be able not only verify the measurements that were sent but also to get to see the dancer and see if there are any body differences that I need to be aware of when patterning. These more intimate details and conversations always lead to a product that is tailor made to the dancer and my clients have appreciated this aspect. I have been able to send many tutus around the USA and abroad, and I always get pictures of very satisfied clients in their custom costumes. This brings me joy and continues to increase my confidence in what I am able to do for clients. I am proud to have their confidence, loyalty and friendship.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My strengths have always been in science and math and I started out in pharmacy school which I didn’t complete. Then I started a degree in fashion merchandising, but got married early. I went back to science three years after I married and finished a science degree in medical technology, Summa Cum Laude. I worked for many years in clinical laboratories but then needed to quit to take care of my autistic son at home. Over the years, I’ve made all of the bedding for my children and window treatments for my homes. I dabbled in home decorating working for Decorating Den back in the 90’s as a weekend job and then proceeded to rebuild/refurbish a historic property. Essentially, I have been a jack of all trades over my life time. I have used many of my skills learned at home from my grandmother and my education to help support many other side jobs that helped me stay in mental shape and still remain an at home mom for my growing children. I also have chaired several non-profits throughout my life while my children were growing up. I have been very involved in community efforts for music as chair of a symphony, architecture through the historic preservation society and now ballet and theater. Today, I have culminated all of my experience throughout my lifetime to develop a business that pretty much sums up my potential. I use math to work out shapes in garments, I have an eye for symmetry, balance and proportion from construction and leadership skills from all of my non-profit experience.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I am so blessed to live in San Diego! I have hosted a couple girls’ trip here in my home. After my mother died, my sister and I decided to honor her by making sure we see each other at least twice a year. She lives on the east coast and so we have done our girls weekend trip when she has come out to the west coast. For our sister’s weekend, we went to downtown and shopped at Seaport, ate at various restaurants and ended the Saturday evening at a couple of clubs. With my girlfriends that live here, we enjoy the San Diego Musical theater productions at the Horton Grand Theater! We try to get to a couple productions a year. We also enjoy the Kaaboo music festival! Another girls weekend, with my besties from the east coast, we spent time hiking a nearby canyon and explored Balboa Park and Seaport Village. I also love, to cook so I treat my family and friends to a homemade paella in my backyard!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My grandmother has been my greatest influence when it comes to my design aesthetic and sewing. She was a couturier from Cuba, who emigrated in 1948 as a widow to find a better job. She landed in NYC and worked as a sample and pattern maker for many years in the fashion district. She learned patterning and dress making as a child in Cuba. I still have her templates and original text book, in Spanish, copyright 1932, with me in my studio. My grandmother was an expert in drafting patterns for anything she saw in any magazine. She would make me dresses, skirts, beautiful tops with many of the fabric remnants that she had from several fashion houses from the 50’s and 60’s. She was amazing! I learned to sew from her and I wish I can go back and pay more attention to the patterning part of it. Patterning from scratch is my weakness and I have learned to work with different patterns over the years to manipulate them to what I want, but is it not the same as coming up with something yourself. I have toyed with the idea lately, about going back to school and working toward a degree in fashion design. Who knows… maybe I start a third career at 60! I have inherited many of my grandmother’s notions and fabric remnants. As a way to honor her, I put something of hers in almost all my costumes. When appropriate, it can be a button, or even some hem lace from France. It’s a way to say thank you for all she taught me! Today I am using many of her remnants as the fashion fabric for the front of face masks. I have made over 150 masks for friends and family and have shipped to several states. It is my way of giving during this time of Covid-19 quarantine.
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