When Lourdes Leon-Vega of Coral Gables got pregnant with her second child, she felt like she was starting over again in a new world. It had been 10 years since the birth of her first daughter, Linnette, and everything had changed. "It was all new products and new systems. I went shopping for baby things, and I didn’t know how many bibs or how many blankets to buy," Leon-Vega said.
At 29 weeks, Leon-Vega was diagnosed with placenta previa and put on bed rest. For several weeks, the Type-A mom was forced to rely on friends and family for help. After her daughter, Alexa’s, premature birth, Leon-Vega found herself back in the hospital with complications. With a background in healthcare, Leon-Vega thought there should be a system to help moms go through what she went through. Now she owns Tutti Bambini, a maternity concierge service and boutique.
The Big Idea
Tutti Bambini is a maternity concierge and baby boutique. It offers personal consultations and classes for new and expecting families, either at the Tutti Bambini facility in South Miami or in-home. Class offerings include Baby 101, CPR, prenatal fitness and lactation, among others. Private or group sessions are available, as well as package deals. Prices range from $45 for an individual class to $250 and up for a package.
Leon-Vega previously worked as Director of Service in the family business, Leon Medical Centers. The centers, which offer everything under one roof for Medicare patients, inspired Leon-Vega to offer a one-stop shop to new and expecting families.
Leon-Vega, who has a degree in business administration from St. Thomas University, worked in nearly every department at Leon Medical Centers, from the information desk to referrals to medical records, over the 15 years she was there.
IF YOU GOTutti Bambini is at 7211 SW 58th Ave. in South Miami. Call 305-669-1400 or visit tutti-bambini.com.
When Alexa was 3 months old, Leon-Vega started looking online for baby planners, to see what else existed in the marketplace. She found several home-based planners around the country, but none in a stand-alone facility.
Leon-Vega found a 1,500-square-foot space to lease in South Miami. "I wanted a place where moms could go and be comfortable and talk about their needs," she said. She flew a certified baby planner from Colorado to Miami to certify herself and two other women who had joined her venture.
Tutti Bambini opened its doors in August 2011, offering Baby 101 and CPR classes. She gradually began to offer more classes, such as sibling training, preparing for multiples and prenatal fitness. A boutique was set up in the facility, with newborn to size 12 clothing, accessories and baby gear. A mock nursery was designed in the back.
Leon-Vega said the staff, now numbering three in the maternity area and two in the boutique, has tweaked offerings since they opened. They tried a prenatal yoga class, but space was just too tight. A daddy-only class has recently been introduced. They also began offering custom packages as clients expressed their needs. Some international clients, who move to the United States for two to three months for their birth, often solicit help to rent apartments or cars.
Leon-Vega handles Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram postings, adding things like events, classes, congratulations to new moms, sales and new products. "I’ve had PR firms offer to do my social media, but I would lose that connection," she said.
She places value on building a family-like atmosphere, where new moms return to visit and have coffee, and befriend other moms.
Leon-Vega has bought ads in Brickell and Unique Me magazines and she has a staff member who is a doctor liaison that visits ob/gyn offices to do presentations and drop off fliers.
Initial Capital Outlay
About $15,000 to $20,000 was spent to get off the ground, including certification, leasing the space and initial inventory. The business serves 10 to 20 families a month and is not yet profitable.
Tutti Bambini is expanding to a 12,000-square-foot facility in Coral Gables in the spring. The first floor will include a baby gear and maternity showroom, breastfeeding room and event room to be used for baby showers, lectures and events. The second floor will have two spa rooms for pre- and postnatal treatments, fitness rooms, a photo studio and meeting rooms. "It’s everything a mom could want, pre- and postnatal," Leon-Vega said. "They could find it there."
The initial challenge was "making people understand everything we do, because there are so many things," Leon-Vega said. The challenge now is to open the new facility, because they are so tight on space, she said.
Leon-Vega rises at 7 a.m. and sees daughter, Linnette, 12, off to school. She and Alexa get ready for the day, and head to the Tutti Bambini office together. Leon-Vega employs a nanny to watch over Alexa during the day, but the 2-year-old often can be found napping in mommy’s arms during a meeting, or talking to customers in the showroom.
They leave the office by 3:30 p.m., so Leon-Vega can be home when Linnette returns from school. Then it’s homework, dinner, bath and bed. Between activities, Leon-Vega uses her phone to return emails and calls. She has made a conscious effort to spend less time on the computer so she and husband, Otto Vega, a physician, can spend time together. "When you're a working mom, it’s a challenge, but you just juggle it," she said.
"If you have an idea, research and investigate it, then run with it," she said. "If you feel right about it, and if you are passionate about it, you will be successful."