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Mother-daughter duet crafts successful business

JESSICA EBELHAR/LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

Sonja Bettendorf, left, and daughter Ursula Bettendorf, co-owners of Tipsy Totes, are seen Thursday in their downtown business in Las Vegas. The two have a line of handcrafted, luxury bottle carriers and wine bags.

JESSICA EBELHAR/LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

Bustier double wine carriers are displayed for sale Thursday at Tipsy Totes, a year-old boutique at 1039 S. Main St. in downtown Las Vegas.

JESSICA EBELHAR/LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

An appropriately plaid scotch carrier is seen at Tipsy Totes. The shop's owners, Sonja and Ursula Bettendorf, hope to expand their business by selling their wares wholesale.

By LAURA CARROLL
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

The white-satin corset, lined on top and bottom with white tulle, sits atop the shelf, its vertical lines of rhinestones sparkling. To the right, a black leather bustier beckons.

Both are just big enough for a bottle of wine or two.

Inside the year-old 1,200-square-foot Tipsy Totes store at 1039 S. Main St., the mother-daughter team of Sonja and Ursula Bettendorf are creating handcrafted, luxury bottle carriers and wine bags that are anything but typical. In the front of the store, some displays show off holders shaped like high heel boots, cowboy boots or lipstick.

“We try to have fun with our holders. We don’t like traditional,” Ursula said.

For the boys, the duo is creating male-focused holders, including the shotgun shell and one made from blue-jean fabric.

“You can never tell what we’ll come up with next,” Ursula said.

The business idea came to the duo after drinking wine, when they decided they wanted a nicer carrier for the bottle.

Sonja, 65, acts as president and her daughter Ursula, 34, is creative director for Tipsy Totes. Both said they thoroughly enjoy working with each other.

“I think it’s wonderful because a lot of times we have the same thing in mind. We understand each other,” Sonja said.

At times they do conflict on designs, but Sonja said they get over it quickly.

“Sometimes we have a tie- breaker,” Ursula said. “One of us has to be the good loser. It’s cool because you have that bond.”

They’ve been in their location for a year, but might be looking to move as they’re in need of more space. They do all their production in about 800 square feet at the back of the store, with help from two part-time employees.

“It used to be half and half, but we keep moving the wall forward,” Sonja said. “Every time we have to enlarge back there we take more of the space here.”

And, they’re looking to take their holders wholesale as the next step in their business’s evolution.

“Eventually we’d like to be in wineries because it’s such a perfect fit,” Ursula said. “We’re starting a big campaign shortly.”

Customers include tourists walking by on their way to elope and event planners looking for a unique party gift. The pair also sell their products online and fulfill orders at their brick-and-mortar location.

The shop’s most prevalent pieces — the bustier holders — range in price from $135 to $300. But prices for Tipsy Totes wine carriers range from $65 to $200.

“We have something for everybody,” Ursula said.

The totes are made to be gifted and regifted or kept as unique pieces of art, and each can be customized to a customer’s needs.

Contact reporter Laura Carroll at lcarroll@reviewjournal .com or 702-380-4588. Follow @lscvegas on Twitter.