A handmade memory; Local woman creates custom hairpieces

Anna Otto has a knack for helping make a bride's special day even special. She is the owner Ruffle Couture and makes custom head pieces, an example of which she is wearing in this picture. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Anna Otto has a knack for helping make a bride’s special day even special. She is the owner Ruffle Couture and makes custom head pieces, an example of which she is wearing in this picture. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Every bride wants something unique on her wedding day, whether it’s the dress, the cake, the shoes or the decor. Anna Otto helps bring a little uniqueness to weddings with a one-of-a-kind headpiece.

“Brides really want something tailored to them,” Otto said. “They want something made specifically for their wedding day, so I do a lot of that.”

Anna Otto is the creative hand behind Ruffle Couture, where she makes customized head pieces. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Anna Otto is the creative hand behind Ruffle Couture, where she makes customized head pieces. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

When Anna Otto got married in 2009, she wore a birdcage veil that wasn’t easy to find at the time. After several friends asked about getting a veil similar to hers, she started making them herself and started her business Ruffle Couture.

“I started this as kind of a hobby after my second daughter was born in 2010, and it kind of snowballed,” she said.

She started making headpieces around 2010 for friends, as gifts for baby showers and wedding showers, and more. She eventually moved to an online shop on Etsy.com. Although she had been on Etsy before, she never thought she was talented enough to sell anything of her own.

“It was kind of by accident, I kind of just stumbled upon it,” Otto said. “But it’s turned into a big thing, and that’s good.”

Otto makes many personalized headpieces, working directly with brides, seeing photos of their dresses, flowers and more to make sure the piece will be the right fit for the big day. She makes the pieces by hand, though she also has two sewing machines to work with.

“I just have a little office in my house, and actually up until last week it was my dining room,” she laughed.

She also makes pieces ready to sell for customers to pick out.

Otto’s business doesn’t stop at headpieces. She also started making scarves after some friends liked one she made for herself.

This is one of Otto’s jobs, as she is also a full-time mother of four young children. Although she closed her Etsy shop after her fourth child was born about six months ago, she hopes to reopen it soon. She has still been making some customized pieces.

“I’m already working on my fall line, which is exciting, and I’m working on a couple of different bridal pieces for some local brides,” she said.

Otto’s custom bridal veils range around $100, depending on the time and materials it takes her to make the piece. Some of her ready-to-sell pieces are less expensive. Her scarves range from about $20 to $60.

Otto had many friends and customers who wanted to see her products, but since she didn’t have an office for a while and she creates her pieces at home, she wasn’t set up to show her creations anywhere in person. Many local people who knew her didn’t want to only look online.

“They want to shop with their hands,” she said.

Examples of Anna Otto's custom headpieces lay out at her work area in the basement of her home. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Examples of Anna Otto’s custom headpieces lay out at her work area in the basement of her home. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

That’s when she and her friend Kristy Rooney started A Handmade Christmas, Indie Craft Market. The craft market, which took place at the Corcoran Center in Austin last year in November, features handmade or craft items local and non-local people make and sell.

“I needed to create for myself a market, or a place to sell, to local people,” Otto said.

She also wanted to give other people with handmade businesses a chance to sell locally. Otto said a lot of product moves during that craft market. This year, the market will take place at the Historic Hormel Home Dec. 11 and 12. For more information about the market, visit ahandmadechristmas.com.

Otto sells at a few other craft shows during the year and hopes to eventually sell her items in stores, but for right now she wouldn’t be able to meet the demand.

“Being a one-woman show I would say is a huge challenge, because I’m the marketer, I’m the sewer, I’m the fashion forecaster,” she said.

Creating the headpieces and scarves isn’t just about business for Otto. It’s also a creative outlet for her. She enjoys getting outside the house and interacting with and meeting different people. Otto said the flexibility of being her own boss has been nice as well, and she has connected with other small business owners.

“There’s definitely a sense of camaraderie and community here with the small business owners,” Otto said. “And I think that’s cool.”

Otto said one of the coolest aspects to making her pieces and scarves is seeing people wearing them. She recalled a few years ago seeing a woman she didn’t know in Hy-Vee wearing one of her scarves. She was excited because that was when she knew people other than her friends also liked her pieces. She hopes people enjoy the items she makes.

“I put a lot of thought into everything that I make so I guess I hope people get [the feeling of] fun and pretty,” she said.

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