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A lifestyle magazine for Central Florida's modern parents

Laura Haftel: Tugging Along 15 Years Strong

Photo: Jessica Friend

Do you have a list of places that you consider classic Winter Park? If so, chances are Tugboat & the Bird is pretty high up there.

This Park Avenue gem is owned by Laura Haftel. Almost 20 years ago, Laura was a buyer for Macy’s and later ran 10–15 stores for the Gap. When her husband, Matt, was admitted to Stetson University for law school, they packed up and moved to Orlando. Not long after, Matt and Laura had two children, William and Gracie. 

When her children were ages 2 and 4, Laura decided the travel for work was just too much. She realized that she needed a schedule that worked better for her family. When she found out that a children’s boutique in Winter Park was for sale, Laura knew she could put all her skills to work. The Haftels purchased Tugboat & the Bird, which they have owned for 15 years. 

Tugboat & the Bird sells perfectly curated kids clothing, toys and gifts. Through the years, they’ve expanded from just special occasion and traditional clothing to include everyday outfits for little ones. There’s a variety of pricing and styles, but one thing is true for every clothing item in the store: they must pass the touch test. Laura doesn’t purchase anything she hasn’t seen and felt in person to ensure that all the clothes are comfortable for little ones.

For Laura, being part of the community is one of the biggest joys of owning the store. “I love working with our customers; they are the heart of our brand, and they’re amazing.” 

Though running a business was more work than she expected, it afforded Laura the flexibility she needed to be more present with her family. When her kids were young, Laura would leave every day to pick them up from school. She credits a fantastic sales team with giving her the freedom to leave the shop in their hands each afternoon. 

Now that they’re older, Laura’s kids are part of the business too. When she was a fashion-focused tween, Gracie was the inspiration for Tugboat & the Bird’s sister brand, Pink Oranges, a shop for older kids. Today, Gracie handles all of Tugboat & the Bird’s social media, helps with buying and has a hand in the paperwork and accounting. She’ll be heading to Rollins College after high school. William is a computer engineering major at George Washington University, but he still handles much of the store’s website programming. 

Laura acknowledges that it’s hard when your kids move away, but also sees it as a positive. “If you raise your kids well — they’re happy, and they find a good environment — then you’ve done your job.”

And of course, Laura’s husband, Matt, is a part of the Tugboat team too. In addition to all he does as a father and lawyer, he can be seen on the weekends at the store unpacking boxes, fixing lights and even plunging a toilet or two.

What’s next for Laura? Now that she’s got more time on her hands, Laura plans to write a children’s book about a little tugboat and a bird, of course! 

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Family Events

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March 2019

March 9, 20199:00 am
Free


This is a family friendly project. Hunger Heroes of all ages are welcome.





It’s easy to forget about the hunger that exists in our own ...

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March 9, 201911:00 am
Festivals https://www.eventbrite.com/e/saturday-in-the-park-tickets-55011173902


The College Park Neighborhood Association (CPNA) is hosting Saturday In The Park With Music And The Arts. This is a daytime and evening event that will include a wide variety of entertainment options for all ages.




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March 9, 201912:00 pm
Festivals / Free


Families are invited to visit the 7th Annual Touch-a-Truck event on March 9th from 12-3 p.m at the CFE Arena. This is a free, interactive experience for kids of all ages.





Touch-a-Truck ...

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March 10, 20199:00 am
Free


This is a family friendly project. Hunger Heroes of all ages are welcome.





It’s easy to forget about the hunger that exists in our own ...

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March 10, 201912:00 pm
Class http://www.artroomorlando.com/index.htm


It's Mommy & Me time at The Art Room. This fun painting class is for parents and their child, age 4 and up. Have fun quality time painting sweet treats!
Call to register: 407-909-1869
$50 per couple; all supplies included
709 Main Street, ...

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March 15, 20196:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Play Date


Drop your kids off for a night to themselves in a safe, supervised and friendly environment. They will enjoy themed games, crafts and gym time. Included is this packed night of fun is always a great movie and yummy pizza.





Drop your kids off for a night to themselves in a safe, supervised and friendly environment. They will enjoy themed games, crafts and gym time. Included is this packed night of fun is always a great movie and yummy pizza.





For potty-trained 3 year olds up to 5th graders. All for only $25 per child ($15 for each additional sibling). Call for availability: 407-365-6800


March 15, 20196:30 pm
Play Date


Join us on Friday, March 15 for a special Family Swim to Celebrate the Colors of the Rainbow! We will have raffles, crafts, pizza and and open swim. Raffle winners will be announced at 7:45 p.m., and you must be present to claim your prize.



Join us on Friday, March 15 for a special Family Swim to Celebrate the Colors of the Rainbow! We will have raffles, crafts, pizza and and open swim. Raffle winners will be announced at 7:45 p.m., and you must be present to claim your prize.





Reservations ARE required for this event, so call 407.614.6363 to reserve your spot. This event is FREE for Goldfish Swim School members and their family. Cost for non-members is $5 a person, with a $15 maximum per family.


March 16, 201911:00 am - 11:45 am
Educational / Free


Sensory Storytimes are special needs-friendly, relaxed and interactive. These programs are designed to increase your child's comfort level with the library environment. Children of all ages and their families are welcome on one Saturday of the month from 11 a.m.-11:45 a.m. The 2019 scheduled alternates monthly between East (Oviedo) branch ...

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March 22, 20199:00 am
Class http://edibleed.org


During this Spring Break Seed-to-Table Workshop (Cost: $80) with Edible Education Experience at the Emeril Lagasse Kitchen House & Culinary Garden in College Park, kids 10-15 will learn how to make brunch favorites like crepes, breakfast potatoes, eggs, fresh pressed juice and make-your-own fruit jam to bring home.


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March 30, 201911:00 am
Festivals / Free


Check out the newly updated (and beautiful) Rieter Park (301 W Warren Ave, Longwood, FL 32750) for a family-friendly day packed with music, great food and lots of fun. There will be a FREE kid zone featuring a pirate ship, shark ride and maybe even a mermaid or two. A huge variety of ...

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