As a former preschool teacher and designer for a large arts and crafts company, my dream was always to build a creativity center for kids. That dream came true in 2013, when I opened Fabby-Do Creativity-Crafts Café after operating it as a mobile business for three years.


Whether hosting birthday parties replete with pizza and cupcakes or just parents looking for unique and creative experiences for their kids, my business was growing nicely. Then the pandemic hit—and I had to pivot, quickly.


One of my managers suggested I start making TikTok videos to stay relevant and keep the public engaged at a time when parents were not very interested in bringing their kids into my shop. My first reaction was “I’m so old; nobody is going to watch me.” But with suddenly so much free time on my hands, I gave it a try anyway. And I’m so glad I did.


Keeping it fab


Since then, Fabby Do’s TikTok account has been an ideal platform for telling our story, building a large TikTok audience and generating awareness beyond our local area. This, in turn, has helped me carve out an e-commerce element—selling creativity kits called Kitschy Kits—which was instrumental in staying afloat and profitable during the worst times of the pandemic.


All of my videos are viral dances, outfits of the day or blog-style. Miss Fabby-Do, my longtime persona, translates nicely to TikTok by conveying the positive energy and essence of my business. It’s silly and fun, and it clearly works.


To mix it up and keep the content fresh, I sometimes record videos doing walkabouts in my community: talking with the mailman, visiting the bakery where I get coffee and bagels and showing off my newly decorated Volkswagen bus.


I also use TikTok to promote special sales, going live over holidays and selling to viewers directly just like the QVC shopping channel does on TV. Those events also drive customers to our online store. There’s always a surge of online buying when I go live.


Recording results


Thanks to devoting so much time and energy to TikTok, I’ve seen huge growth in my company’s social media presence and general awareness. Today, I have about 220,000 followers and drop a new video every day.


I’ve built TikTok into my work schedule, reserving four or five hours on Wednesdays to produce the 10 to 15 videos we will drop the following week. There’s nothing high-tech about this: My manager shoots the videos using a cellphone or an iPad and then posts them on Fabby-Do’s TikTok accounts.


When I first started posting videos in 2021, I’d get 100 or so views. But all it takes is for one video to go viral to ramp up your following. In my case, a video about Halloween got 5.3 million views just four months after I started my TikTok account. I respond to every viewer comment, as I know that when I engage with people—regardless of what they say—they are more likely to remain loyal followers.


What I learned early on is that a TikTok video is only as good as its first three seconds. That’s how long you have to grab a viewer’s attention, which can be a challenge. To “wow” my viewers, I sometimes mimic what other TikTok influencers and celebrities are doing, using viral music, sounds and dances while spotlighting my shop and my products.


Not only has TikTok helped me grow my business, it’s also boosted my brand to almost dizzying heights. Most notably, my colorful and often-quirky videos caught the attention of the producers of NBC’s Dancing With Myself, resulting in an appearance as a contestant on that show last summer.


Reeling in new customers


Now that parents are comfortable bringing kids to my shop again, one might think TikTok has become less valuable. But not so. When I ask new customers how they heard about Fabby-Do, the answer—whether from kids, parents or grandparents—is almost always TikTok. More and more, we’re hosting parties for groups outside of Philadelphia and New Jersey, expanding our geographic reach.


It turns out that even for a primarily brick-and-mortar business like mine, TikTok can be a great way to engage and reel in new customers. People are eager to know the person or people behind the brand—and showing personality, humor and creativity helps. I encourage every business owner to give it a try.

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