What started out as way of connecting with family and loved ones during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has now become a business venture for Kearny resident Laura Catrambone-Hempel.
Fairy Yard Mother sets up exterior balloon decorations and lawn sign displays. These works of art began popping up all over Kearny neighborhoods as families were trying to figure out how to celebrate special events like birthdays and graduations from their homes.
“When we weren’t able to see anyone, I just wanted to show my family members how much we cared for them among everything else we were feeling at the start of the pandemic,” said Hempel. “I wanted show them without saying anything that they were loved and they were missed. To see their faces when they came out to this surprise on their front lawn was priceless.”
With a large family, Hempel had a lot of practice. Her first project was at her mother’s house for Mother’s Day. By setting up flowers on the front lawn with her family’s faces on them, the seeds to bringing back some hope and joy to others were planted.
“I was across the street when she came out of the house and she was just bawling when she saw it,” she said. “I never spent Mother’s Day without being with my mother. It was heartbreaking and I would sit up night after night thinking about what I could do just to show that although we’re not there physically, we’re there.”
Following Mother’s Day, there were more milestones to follow for more of Hempel’s family members. Her nephew was graduating high school. There was no prom due to the pandemic and there weren’t going to be graduations ceremonies either. So she set up a balloon arch outside of his house along with graduation pillars to so he and other classmates in the neighborhood could simulate a graduation ceremony.
“These kids lost so much during the school year,” Hempel says. “Everything was taken away from them. So we hosted a ceremony for them and every kid got to walk down the driveway and had a speech.”
Word soon traveled about what Hempel was doing thanks to her sister, who would frequently make Facebook posts featuring these displays. Recently, local Kearny business Brother’s Bakery was hurting like many other businesses over the past year.
With St. Patrick’s Day on the horizon, they wanted to showcase their deserts to get more people in. Hempel helped dress up their window display, it became a hit. The Bakery has now hired her to handle every holiday.
“I think during this whole time, while everything has been depressing, there’s always a silver lining and this was it for me,” she says. “These are the things that will stick in your head and make everything more memorable.”
Fairy Yard Mother has been an official business for the past four weeks, with up to four to five jobs a week, and is now extending outside of Kearny in locales like Jersey City, East Hanover, Elizabeth, and Oakland. Fairy Yard Mother can be found on facebook.com/fairyyardmom with contact information as well on Instagram at instagram.com/fairy_yard_mother?igshid=13haq62hvkbq3.