Cordova native crafts girly accessories for all ages
by Jennifer Cohron
Mar 13, 2011 | 2308 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This “Ami” top hat is from Luna Bella’s Victorian Elegance Collection. - Photo Special to the Eagle
This “Ami” top hat is from Luna Bella’s Victorian Elegance Collection. - Photo Special to the Eagle
Tara Atkins likes to make girls feel pretty, whether it is one of her daughters, a patient at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital or a stay-at-home mom like herself.

Atkins, who was raised in Cordova, owns Madison-based Luna Bella. She specializes in handmade bows, headbands and other dress-up items.

Atkins said she enjoyed exploring crafts stores in Huntsville after her family relocated there when she was 17.

She soon began making jewelry and hair accessories for fun.

"I liked to make my friends pretty. I think wearing something in your hair or wearing a piece of jewelry to accentuate an outfit makes you feel nice," Atkins said.

Several years later, Atkins started participating in craft shows.

In 2008, she decided to turn her hobby into a full-time job. She left the dance-wear store where she was working so that she could stay home with her three children.

She said she never imagined when she asked for a crafts room in her new home three years ago that it would one day house a business.

"I think it was a nudge from God," Atkins said.

Luna Bella, which is Italian for "the moon is beautiful," has been more successful than Atkins anticipated.

The Internet, particularly Facebook, has helped Atkins achieve her five-year goals for the company in just two years.

Some product placement in gift bags that are given to celebrities after the birth of a child or another significant event also helped make Luna Bella pieces popular in Hollywood.

"I have a few well-known actresses who purchase from me and several professional athletes," Atkins said.

Atkins is now making more money than she did when she was working outside the home.

She fills hundreds of orders each month. Fans of her work live as far away as Central America, Russia, Australia and New Zealand.

Atkins describes her style as eclectic.

She is currently interested in vintage pieces, such as flowers that she makes from 1950s and '60s era clothing she buys in thrift stores.

She made a wedding veil for one bride using fabric from the wedding dress of the woman's great-grandmother.

Luna Bella's inventory includes headbands, bows and clips, tiny top hats, tutu dresses and skirts, baby shoes and necklaces as well as wedding and formal wear.

Her daughters, who are 12 and 8, heavily influence her work. As they get older, they are asking for more grown-up jewelry and accessories.

"A lot of the things I make are now aimed toward teens, tweens and even adults. I decided that if I'm making it, I want to wear it too,"Atkins said.

Atkins cautions that running a profitable crafts business requires more effort than many people think.

She crafts all of her pieces herself, although she gets some help from her family with small tasks like cutting ribbon and fabric.

She said she is proud of the fact that every item sold by Luna Bella has care and patience put into it instead of being manufactured at a factory by machines.

Atkins believes that Luna Bella has prospered in spite of the recent recession because parents are still willing to splurge on their children.

"We cut back all the time on ourselves, but we don't want to cut back on our children. Sometimes a $5 hair bow makes a child feel better than a $30 toy," Atkins said.