While constantly envisioning ways they could venture into business together, the duo began taking photography classes until the instructor at the school told them to find their niche and they'd be successful. And that's exactly what they did.
While they're kids loved to camp out in their respective living rooms, Leslie says she was tired of having to fold up blankets and put away pillows when tee pee time was over. And so, she says, she and Lori began thinking of ways they could design a great looking and durable tee pee for their tots.
From there, the floodgates opened. Leslie and Lori visited the Waverly/Schumacher showroom in Atlanta and were directed to Joseph Plata, a high end clothing designer and manufacturer who, along with his team, created an amazing array of fabrics for the tee pees.
The next step was to incorporate, which Leslie and Lori accomplished by packing all the kids into their minivan and taking turns at the county clerks'office to provide their signatures - one mom stayed with the kids while the other went inside to take care of business and then vice versa. These ambitious moms did the same routine with their trademark and logo and in a matter of months, managed to launch their own brand.
Next stop for Leslie and Lori...retailers. At the suggestion of the amazing contact they made at the Waverly showroom, the pair purchased a booth at the America's Mart in Atlanta and while they knew nothing about sales, orders or the intricacies of retail, they took their chances and came out on top, with several buyers instantly attracted to their tee pees.
As with any new business, there were many learning curves along the way. They vividly recall the time they bought a booth at the 1st Annual Braselton Christmas Fair and wound up somewhere near the popcorn and cotton candy machines. While their booth was adorned with gorgeous tee pees and festive decorations, patrons kept stopping by and asking for directions. "They thought we were the information booth," laughs Lori. While the sales that day were a bit slow, they learned that they had to target the outlets where they believed their product would take off.
Their perserverance, ambition and creativity has enabled them to sell their product to approximately 500 retailers nationwide. While they made a number of sales at trade shows, they say they've even cold called certain stores where they believe the tee pees could find the perfect home. Leslie says she was on a mission to get the tee pees into Saks Fifth Avenue before Lori's father retired since he worked as an engineer at New York's Grand Central Station. With determination and moxie, she called the children's buyer at Saks, overnighted a tee pee and received a call the very next day from the enthusiastic buyer who was eager to place a major order.
While they are thrilled that the tee pees have become a hit with retailers, Leslie and Lori say they are even more ecstatic that they're product has really hit a home run with buyers. What they truly treasure is the reaction they get from customers who order their tee pees online and then are completely bowled over when they arrive. "I still get goose bumps when I hear someone has received our tee pees and they absolutely love them," says Leslie.
In fact, Tee Pee for Me has even become a hit with celebrity moms and dads. From Gwenyth Paltrow, to Dylan McDermott to Angelina Jolie to Britney Spears to Jennifer Garner, there have been tons of tee pee deliveries in Hollywood and the orders keep coming in! In addition, the company is actively involved in numerous charities for children and has donated their products and services to several fundraisers across the country. They currently offer 12 tee pee designs and change many of them each year to keep their brand fresh, new and enticing to the little Indians who will camping out in them the moment they arrive on their doorstep.
Leslie and Lori no longer live in the same cul de sac but no matter the distance, they still make a dynamic duo. After having three children, Lori moved to St. Simons Island, GA along with her husband who is a builder and Leslie still lives in Dacula, GA with her two kids and husband who is a military officer. While they can't meet at midnight in their driveways to brainstorm, they're still on the phone constantly - mapping out their next move and laughing about their lives every step of the way.
For more information about Tee Pee for Me, click here to visit their website.