Laurie Oharra thought that by the time she reached her fifties, she’d be getting ready to retire. But when her husband lost his job, the whole family had to make do.
After being laid off at 58, the only work her husband could find was part-time bartending for minimum wage. Rather than live off his tips and her small salary from her job as a legal assistant, Oharra decided to fortify her Etsy shop, Laurels by Laurie. What started as a hobby is now an important income supplement.
This Christmas season, the Reno, Nevada mom is trying to improve her family’s shot at a happy Christmas by bringing holiday cheer to other peoples homes in the form of big, festive berry wreaths.
Oharra calls her wreaths “classic with a modern edge.” She hand-makes each wreath out of silk flowers and branches. One of her specialities is sculpting a wreath into a heart shape. All of her wreaths are priced under $55.
“No two wreaths are the same,” she told the Daily Dot in an email. “I had a customer one time at a craft show years ago say to me: ‘You know, your wreaths could be passed down generations. They are that well made and traditional but with a little something extra.’ I try very hard to hold my work up to that standard.”
Oharra said she loves selling on Etsy during the bustling Christmas season because it gives her a chance to chat with customers and find out how her wreaths will be used. She recently got an order from a woman who bought three of her wreaths to decorate her grandmother’s new home at the assisted living center.
“These things always touch my heart,” said Oharra. “To know someone starting a new phase of their life will be admiring and looking at and enjoying something I made with my own hands, and lots and lots of love.”
Even as Oharra struggles to make ends meet in her own home, she never stops thinking about creating somebody’s perfect wreath.
“The sellers on Etsy, like myself, are really willing to go to the ends of the earth practically to make a customer happy and maybe make a friend in the process. Selling on Etsy brings a new dimension to to the word ‘shopping,’” she said. “And I love it.”