Helping the Tooth Fairy - and African children
By BRIAN BECKLEY
Kent Reporter General assignment reporter
May 28, 2009 · 11:05 PM
Like most good ideas, the kernel of Elisa Hope’s new business grew out of a need at her house.
One night two years ago, the mom of three was up trying to find a tooth that one of sons had hidden under his pillow in preparation for the Tooth Fairy. Hope searched and searched, but without much luck.
“He had hidden it really well,” she said with a smile.
Suddenly, Spencer, who was 7 at the time, woke up and Hope, not wanting to break the illusion, dropped to the floor and hid there for 20 minutes until her son fell back asleep.
As she was lying there on the floor, inspiration struck.
“I decided we needed to find a designated place for his tooth,” she said.
What if she created a pillow with some personality that also contained a small pocket in which children and parents could put lost teeth awaiting the Tooth Fairy.
She began working on designs for a series of pillows, working with kids to help pick out the original 12 designs: a cowboy boot, an aquarium scene, a princess tiara and several others, each with a secret spot to stash a tooth.
“All of the designs have a pocket in them,” she said.
This month, her new business Sorrisi Decor launched its Web site and began offering for sale, Hope’s Tooth Fairy Pillows. Named for the Italian word for “smile,” the company not only sells the pillows, but plans to donate half of the profits to Medical Teams International to provide dental care for children in West Africa.
“That’s my passion,” said Hope, a mental health therapist by trade.
Hope said she was working with a young girl who hid her smile in embarrassment and it reminded her of her own three younger siblings who were adopted from a Russian orphanage, all of whom had dental issues.
The theme is laid out in the company’s motto, “Here a smile, there a smile.”
Hope admits her pillows are a bit expensive at $49.95 each, but called them a “boutique-style pillow” of “heirloom quality” and said kids could use them even after they stop losing teeth, as well as possibly pass them on to their own children in the future.
“There isn’t anything else out there quite like this,” she said.
Hope said she tried to select the 12 designs based on the “kid’s eye perspective” she got from talking to her children and others and said the pillows are “real high on the tactile value,” with different fabrics and embroidery, something she knows is valuable from her work as a therapist.
Though she initially designed and sewed some of the pillows herself, Hope has contracted out with manufacturers who sew them in small bunches for her, but she’s still kept busy buying and preparing the materials that are sent to the manufacturers.
And when things don’t always go right, Hope has to make up the difference, such as not being able to find the pink ribbon which creates a fringe on the “princess pillow.” In order to meet her orders, Hope said she had to buy white ribbon and dye it in a soup pot in her kitchen.
But from the humble beginnings in her Scenic Hill home, Hope said she hopes to take her product across the nation.
“I would love to see this nationwide in boutiques,” she said. “I really want it to be a company that is growing.”
And despite the current economic downturn, Hope has no qualms she is on to something.
“We’re always going to have kids and we’re always going to have them losing teeth,” she said with a big smile of her own.
ON THE WEB
Sorrisi Decor will officially launch its new line of Tooth Fairy Pillows at 7 p.m. May 30 at Marie Haggin Accessories in Kent Station. For more information or to purchase a pillow, visit www.sorrisidecor.com. For more information o n Medical Teams International, visit www.medicalteams.orgContact Kent Reporter General assignment reporter Brian Beckley at email@example.com or 253-872-6600, ext. 5054.