Ten years ago, Connie Hallett left her job working for McDonald’s Corp. to spend more time with her two boys. After working there for more than 20 years, she replaced her benefits, six-week vacations and employee car to create lasting moments in the lives of children.
Her artistic passion led her to make handcrafted ceramic plates of children’s footprints and handprints, which launched the start of her at-home business, Tiny Impressions.
“It broke my heart to go to work every day and leave my kids at daycare,” Hallett said. “I just wanted to stay at home with my kids. After taking my son to a ceramic imprint place in California, I thought, ‘I’m creative, anyway. I can do this.’ ”
She trained herself to create ceramic handprints with the help of family and friends before starting her business in October 2003.
Hallett uses nontoxic clay to gently press a baby’s hands or feet and lets parents engrave names, dates, ages or other messages before letting it dry.
The plate is then sanded, baked in a kiln, painted, glazed and baked again before being wrapped and packaged.
She can mold the clay into any shape desired, including ovals, ballet shoes, surfboards, cupcakes, owls and angels.
“I probably see Connie every three months,” said Angela Schreiner, mother of two. “She’s extremely easy to work with, and it’s incredible to see how much my kids have changed in just a few months. These items are really sentimental to me. They bring back memories.”
Customers have 30 colors to choose from, and prices start at $15 for ornaments and $33 for plates.
The process takes three to five weeks depending on the season, with her busiest days being before Mother’s Day and Christmas.
“There’s not a baby I can’t do,” Hallett said. “If I’m not busy, I can go to the hospital and get handprints for babies as young as a few hours old.”
On the opposite spectrum, she has also created handprints for a woman whose father was dying and wanted something through which to remember him.
In addition, Hallett will do dog, cat and horse prints.
“I can basically do anything that’s legal, with the exception of bums,” Hallett said. “Many parents have asked me for prints of their baby’s bums. I won’t do that.”
Through contacting various mom groups, schools and children-oriented businesses, Hallett has been able to keep her business afloat.
“The biggest challenge has been that this business is not consistent,” Hallett said. “Before, I knew when I was getting my paycheck and what my hours would be like. Now, it just depends on the season. Sometimes I work 18 hours day, and other days, it’s slow.”
For the past few years, Hallett also has partnered with Summerlin Hospital to create ceramic keepsakes for the parents of newborns who die.
She provides the clay and trains nurses at the hospital to take handprints and footprints. She will take the plate home to decorate and bring it back to the hospital, where the parents can pick it up.
“It’s a timeless memory to remember their loved ones by,” Hallett said.
She said most of her advertising has been through word-of-mouth, and many of her customers continue to come back year after year to lock in how much their children have grown with a new keepsake.
“It’s all about the kids,” Hallett said. “If you treat them like gold, the parents will come back. Despite the challenges, this business has really been a blessing.”
For more information, visit tinyimpressions.net or call Hallett at 702-279-5592.
Contact North View reporter Sandy Lopez at email@example.com or 702-383-4686. Find her on Twitter: @JournalismSandy.