In the age of GoFundMe campaigns and other fundraisers — where someone is always seemingly always asking for a handout — 10-year-old Hailey Henderson is using her own hands to try to make her dreams come true.
The Wesley Chapel youth has launched a home decor business — Hailey Brooke Designs — stamping personalized books for nearly every occasion.
Each sale helps pay for her figure skating lessons at Florida Hospital Center Ice, with her ultimate goal to compete in the Olympics.
Though she’s only been skating for a year, Henderson has experienced almost immediate success.
This past skating season, the Weightman Middle School sixth-grader won two competitions in her division — the 16th annual Labor Day Invitational, in Fort Myers; and, the 2018 Southwest Florida Fall Classic, in Ellenton.
She also earned a second place finish at the 2018 Orange Blossom Open, in Oldsmar.
The rink is Henderson’s happy place.
As she gracefully skates across the ice, she doesn’t have a care in the world.
“You don’t have to think about school, you don’t have to think about homework, you don’t have to think about anything else,” said Henderson, who skates for Champions’ Edge Skating Club, based out of Florida Hospital Center Ice.
“I like doing my jumps because you get a certain feeling where like you’re in the air and it just feels so cool,” she said. “I just love it.”
Henderson, however, understands figure skating is an expensive sport.
So, with some help from her mother, Melissa Nordholm, Henderson upcycles books and gathers other materials for the chic creations.
Her items are available on Etsy, an e-commerce website focused on handmade or vintage items and supplies.
The business started in August after Henderson discovered her talent for crafting with her grandmother.
Nordholm said her daughter does most of the manual labor.
“She gets to sit there and stamp them all,” Nordholm explained. “The actual design of the books is pretty much independently her.”
The personalized book sets can be customized with family and pet names, as well as favorite quotes and song lyrics.
Henderson has also branched out to specific themes, for occasions such as Halloween and Christmas.
For example, her “Trick or Treat” handmade set comes wrapped with Halloween-colored raffia and a creepy-crawly spider detail.
Henderson’s catalog of items includes a wide assortment of handmade sets, including those themed for all branches of military and law enforcement and firefighters.
Her “Protect and Serve” handmade set, for instance, comes wrapped with natural jute and adorned with a resin police ornament on top.
“It’s just so much fun. It’s like another hobby,” she said.
Her favorite design is the Breast Cancer Awareness themed set.
It’s decorated with a pink awareness ribbon and wrapped in pink raffia, with quotes such as ‘Hope, Courage, Strength,’ ‘Stronger than Cancer’ and ‘I Can and I Will.’
The disease hits close to home to Henderson. Her great-aunt has been battling it for eight years now.
“She’s been fighting breast cancer for quite a long time, so it’s pretty meaningful,” Henderson said, also adding “and I like pink, so it goes together.”
The Wesley Chapel youth continues brainstorming to come up with other book set ideas for the future.
“We’re thinking about doing a Teacher Appreciation one for the teachers and some baking ones, like ‘Bakers Gonna Bake’ or ‘Watch Me Whip,’ because it’s funny,” Henderson said.
Nordholm smiles broadly, as she considers the sacrifices her 10-year-old daughter is making to run her own business. “It’s definitely very heartwarming,” she said.
Watching her daughter in skates, makes her proud, too.
“I love that she’s got that childlike wonder and her dream is to go to the Olympics. I love that she thinks she can achieve it. It definitely makes us feel pretty amazing as parents,” Nordholm said.
So far, most of the book set orders have come from Wesley Chapel and Pasco County, but a handful of orders have come in from other states.
With each order, Henderson writes every customer a handwritten ‘thank-you’ note.
“You are the reasons my dreams are coming true, XOXO Hailey,” each note reads.
To order one of Henderson’s designs, visit Etsy.com, and search for HaileyBrookeDesigns, or visit tinyurl.com/y9wqwjpc.
Published October 10, 2018