Pirouettes come naturally – even for dogs – under clouds of tulle

By People Staff
Updated July 13, 2010 02:55 PM

The idea for Kirsten Stiff Walker’s latest business came during a pressured moment at an audition. Stiff Walker needed to come up with an occupation for herself to play in her role, but it couldn’t be what she did professionally, which is to act, sing and dance.

She looked down at the poodle at her feet, thought of her dog, Lola, who used to go into her costume closet and emerge with sparkly clothes on her head. Stiff Walker then said, in her cheesiest Southern accent, “I design doggie tutus!”

She went home that night and decided to put Lola into one of the children’s tutus she had lying around (Stiff Walker also owns a children’s theater school), and to her surprise, they fit.

“I figured out what I needed to change for a dog,” Stiff Walker tells “I started sketching and trying to put them together –and now we have Princess Lola’s Tutus!”

Stiff Walker devoted time to researching materials that wouldn’t irritate sensitive canine skin, and figuring out where to place sparkles and rhinestones that would give her tutus a little extra something. And she certainly wasn’t selling them at that point. Instead, she was handing her tutus to strangers she saw walking their dogs.

“It’s so much fun to give them away!” says Stiff Walker. “I know it sounds silly, but it’s so adorable to see the animals running around. I call them my dog-kids.”

The Princess Lola’s Tutus designs, which are made to order, range in price from $30 to $175, can be sized from XXS to XXL, and come in multiple colors and styles (is your pooch more Moulin Rouge, or Sugar Plum Fairy?). Soon, Stiff Walker hopes to introduce a cat tutu line to her collection.

“We put it on our cat as a joke, and he was prancing around and didn’t even mind wearing it,” she says. “They’re so comfortable. We’re going to be expanding the line to other animals.”