An Orleans mother and grandmother makes colourful – and useful – creations from her home
A few years ago, Laurie Violini’s daughter and her friends were all starting families. “It seemed everywhere I looked, there were babies and toddlers,” says the longtime Orleans resident.
New babies mean that gifts had to be given, and she gravitated towards presents that were both practical and unique. “I loved the teething beads and had bought a necklace for my daughter when her oldest was teething. It was so expensive so I looked into making one.”
This was a natural thought for Violini, 57, who has always been a creative person. Inspired by the adorable babies around her, she decided to try her hand at making them herself.
She ordered some silicone beads from a supplier in Ontario and made a few teethers and pacifier clips. After receiving compliments on the items she was making, it occurred to her that she could start a small business.
After discussing it with her husband of 34 years, Chewable Creations was born in February 2018.
Sourcing her materials directly from the supplier in bulk has allowed her to keep costs low.
“This is something I feel is really important,” says Violini, a mother of two grown children and grandmother of two girls. “I would rather sell a larger quantity at a lower price than a smaller quantity at a higher price.” She assembles the teethers, pacifier clips, necklaces and zipper pulls. She believes her product selection stands out – with over 65 different colours of silicone beads in various shapes and sizes and 500 teethers in stock, Violini can customize a piece with the child’s name and specific colours. “The personalized teethers and necklaces are a lot of fun to make, especially given that everyone seems to be giving their child unique names,” she says.
Other items she sells include unique silicone household and travel items, but after reading and researching products for children with autism, ADHD and sensory issues – and learning from parents about the lack of product availability – the latest addition to her line was born.
These items include zipper pulls for older children to satisfy their need to chew, weighted products made from locally-sourced materials, four-way stretch sensory socks and bed wraps.
Each item is customized to the individual. “I really try to listen to my clients and their needs,” says Violini. “Some of my products are the result of a client asking for something special for their child. To know that I am able to do something to help them in any way is very rewarding to me.”
A night owl, Violini often works into the wee hours of the morning, accompanied by her two miniature golden doodles, Marley and Dixie. The success of her business has kept her unexpectedly busy. “I really did not think this would be an issue, like a 9-5 job, but it really is,” she says. There have been many meals ordered in when I am busy in my workshop and my son has been to the grocery store a few times. I have also done a run to the pet food store 10 minutes before closing.”
In the future, Violini wants to keep showing her wares at trade shows – “I am a people person and enjoy meeting people and showing off my products,” she says – and would like to see her website take off. She lives by the advice that she gives to other would-be entrepreneurs: “follow your passion,” she says, “and enjoy what you are doing.”