Inspiring Women: Tully Phillips

By catherine | August 8, 2013

The summer seems to be flying by and I can’t believe it’s already August, and time for our second installment of Inspiring Women!

This month I am excited to introduce you to another dear friend of mine, Tully Phillips.  Tully is a trailblazer in the world of gluten free sweet treats, an entrepreneur, and an all around cool chick. After graduating from SMU she attended culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu in Austin. She then moved to New York City, where she interned at Gramercy Tavern and dove right into the foodie scene. While at Gramercy, Tully learned she was gluten intolerant. At the time of her diagnosis, there were not many options for those living gluten free. Rather than throwing in the towel and resigning herself to a life without sweet treats- Tully set out to create delicious – yet completely gluten free – goodies. Through this culinary adventure, she came up with many scrumptious recipes and wanted to share her creations with others. The result was Tu-Lu’s: the first 100% dedicated gluten free bakery in NYC.

After several years living in New York, Tully relocated to Dallas, where she continued to grow her business. There are now three successful Tu-Lu’s: the original NYC bakery and two locations in the Dallas area. As a gluten intolerant person, myself, I can attest to the joy that a dedicated gluten free bakery brings! I have watched many children who live gluten free walk into the bakery, and, when they realize they can eat anything in sight, the lights in their eyes and the smiles on their faces, tell me Tully is onto something really special!

See her answers to our questions below.

Tully in the Tu-Lu's Bakery on Sherry Lane

Tully in the Tu-Lu's Bakery on Sherry Lane

What inspired you to start your business?

When I became gluten intolerant and went on a GF diet I found it easy to navigate around a dinner or lunch menu. What was missing was sweet treats! I was living in NYC at the time and even there I couldn’t find a great GF bakery. I was a professional chef cooking savory foods for catering companies but started experimenting with baking at home. Once I figured out a few great recipes I was sure that THIS was the business for me.

Biggest challenge you face as a woman owned business?

I think my age paired with being a woman were both challenges opening my business. I was barely 28 when I signed the first lease in NYC. Being younger than some of your employees is very interesting but being firm and steady was a way to overcome that. I also had to show them that I was willing to pitch in wherever needed whether it was washing dishes, helping customers or sweeping the floor. Participating in every aspect of your business encourages respect and this goes for men and women.

Best piece of advice you ever received? From who?

Well it was probably more of a warning that advice! My step father worked in the restaurant industry for 30 plus years and his first piece of advice was “Don’t do it!” The success rate for restaurants/ retail food business is extremely low so I did understand where he was coming from. I took that “advice” and it helped me to be cautious when opening. I tried to make sure I didn’t overspend with every piece of expensive equipment and decor and also didn’t over hire. I started out with 1 full time employee and 2 part time at the NYC store and now there are 10 people! We expanded as we sales grew. I wanted to be able to sleep at night so investing too much money would have made me super stressed out.

What’s your morning routine?

I wake up around 6:45 am and make breakfast my husband and myself. I typically walk the dog and go to the gym in the morning, run errands and then go to the bakery to meet with our manager.

Calendar: Paper or Electric?

Paper! I like seeing everything for the week written out and love being able to flip forward to see what’s coming up. You really can’t do that on your iPhone as well.

How do you find work/ life balance?

I think you can’t sweat the small stuff. I used to let everything that happened at the bakery consume me but now I just take it one day at a time. When I’m home I try to be present for my husband and not always distracted by work. It’s difficult when we are open 7 days a week but at least the bakeries in Dallas close earlier than our 10:30 pm closing time in NYC!

How do you tame your email box?

I try to sit down once or twice a day and tackle all emails. It’s amazing though how they continue to pile up!

Favorite organizing tool/ trick for business.

I am a huge fan of google docs. We are able to share and continually update lists and forms between all the bakeries and managers. I also am a fan of checklists and forms in general. We have one for everything at the bakery. Daily to-do lists for the register employees, scooping lists for the bakery case, prep lists for the bakers, order forms, etc. Making the lists and updating them is actually one of my favorite things to do! As far as organizing the store goes, we strive to keep organized every day. Sometimes that doesn’t happen but we make up for it another day. It’s always a work in progress.

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