From Boredom to Expansion

Tututu Space is a comprehensive do-it-yourself workshop taking over Montreal

Customers are greeted with a jolly feel and a colorful space.  Courtesy Tututuspace

A brisk ten-minute walk from Concordia’s downtown campus will transport you to a crafter’s haven neatly tucked into the second floor of a walk-up complex on Saint-Catherine Street W.

Tututu Space is vibrant, quaint, and smells of wax, hot glue, and essential oils. The area fits around 30 customers a session, and has three rooms dedicated to different crafts, all positioned around a long rectangular table used for painting acrylic bears. 

The comprehensive do-it-yourself (DIY) workshop provides an array of innovative crafts and activities for customers to make their funky ideas a reality. 

Tututu Space’s activities include tufting, curating a unique phone case to the client’s aesthetic taste, candle making and beyond.

Tututu Space first opened May 1, 2022, and the Atwater market was home to the workshop. Initially, the only interactive craft offered to customers was their rug-making (tufting) service. When it opened, Tututu Space was the first place in Montreal to provide this service.

“I first saw the tufting in Turkey,” explained 28-year-old Serena Liu, the owner and marketing manager of Tututu Space, who graduated from civil engineering at Concordia in 2020.

After Liu got inspired by the tufting of carpets in Turkey, she searched online for the equivalent in Canada and the United States. She realized the market was slim, expensive and inaccessible.

Liu then explained how people were bored during the pandemic and that there was a lack of crafts and activities for people to do.

Fusing her two thoughts together, with around $30,000 in start-up costs, her brainstorming for Tututu Space had begun.

This is the lovely space Tututu provides for its clients. Courtesy Tututuspace

Liu started tufting at home and thoroughly enjoyed it. She realized if people got bored in Montreal as much as she did, they would also want to participate in this activity.

Liu hoped to create an activity that was different from what Montreal currently had to offer. She had noticed how the only DIY crafts available to Montrealers was ceramic painting, and with that absence sparked an urge to fill in the gap.

For the DIY tufting, Tututu Space charges by the frame size. Their smallest size is $83, the medium size is $98, the 70-centimeters by 70-centimeters size is $128, and their largest is one meter by one meter, which goes for $280.

In December 2022, Tututu Space moved to their current location in downtown Montreal, nearly eight months after opening. Liu said the move was necessary, as the Atwater location was too small to meet the demand of her store. 

The move allowed Liu to add the numerous crafts provided today to the list of Tututu Space’s services.

Customers can pick between ten different styles of candle: cocktail candles, soy wax candles, and mousse candles from which customers can then choose from 80 different types of mousse. Liu welcomes an abundance of selection for candle-making as she finds “people are tired of the traditional candles.”

As Liu motions to a small white room with a large window and 2,000-3,000 charms stuffed in small cabinets against the wall, she says, “That room is meant for [making] phone cases.” During the weekdays, DIY phone cases and candles are the popular craft of choice by customers.

For $35 to $45, customers can decorate clear phone cases, pick charms of their desired aesthetic and pipe excess decorations with mousse.

26-year-old Naimah Amin spent around two-and-a-half hours on their DIY phone case experience. “It was so fun. They have so many options for customization. They first give you a little tray, and you pick out your charms. They have a huge selection, so you can make virtually anything,” they said.

Before starting on the craft, the staff taught Amin how to do the piping—a staple in making a Tututu Space phone case. “It’s pretty simple, and [staff] are always nearby if you want to ask for help.”

Amin is still presently using her DIY creation. “I keep getting compliments on how cool [my phone case] is, and I am always recommending people to go there,” they said.

Liu estimates Tututu Space sees about 200-270 customers per week, with a surge on weekends. From January to November of this year, Tututu Space has racked up a revenue of around $300,000, and with the love Tututu Space receives from the community, Liu currently has expansion plans.

“Right now, we have another location in Ottawa,” said Liu. She elaborated on how the Ottawa location is set to open next week as all the renovations have finished and materials have been shipped; it’s just a matter of training employees. 

Tututu Space also has locations in Laval and the West Island under renovation, as well as their previous Atwater location undergoing a face-lift.

Liu added that all of Tututu Space’s materials are exported from China. “The yarn sold in Canada is really expensive. And also does not have so many colours.” She described how the Canadian market for yarn fails to offer a more varied palette of colours compared to the factory she orders from in China. 

Liu’s husband handles most of the management when it comes to ordering materials, as he has a logistics company in both Canada and China. “He helps me to import all the yarn and all the charms and all the materials I need,” Liu said.

Social media and word-of-mouth are general ways Tututu Space gains traction. Liu manages Tututu Space’s social media all on her own, while she also mentioned how she hires university students as a form of advertising.

Recent hire Rebecca Turpyn, who studies civil engineering at Concordia, shared how it was her first day on the job, and how tufting was her favourite station. Turpyn chose this job not solely because it is close to her university, but because “it is an artistic domain.”

What Liu loves most about her work is when customers leave the crafting space, design in hand. Liu feels overwhelmingly proud that those crafts are from her store, made by enthusiastic patrons who have acted off the idea that they have the freedom to create whatever they please in her space.

Individuals or groups can book sessions on Tututu Space’s website and attempt walk-ins on less busy days.

Soy wax candles,  cocktail candles and Mousse candles are all options one can choose to create at Tututu. Courtesy Tututuspace