Business Takes Aim At Cancer
By Patrick Cronin
Hampton Union, Friday, April 27, 2012
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
HAMPTON -- A Hampton woman started a hair clip making business to pay homage to her late mother, who died of cancer in 2008, and to raise money for others who are battling the disease.
Amy Lantaigne started Tootsabella 18 months ago, selling the homemade hair clips online.
"I just wanted to do something to pay tribute to my mom, and this was just another way I could do that," said Lantaigne, a stay-at-home mother with two children.
Lantaigne said her late mother, Sharron Schab, was a hair dresser who loved accessories. She was also her greatest champion and inspiration to "do better."
All the proceeds from Lantaigne's "Cancer Cure" clip and a percentage of sales from other designer clips go to the Conquer Cancer Coalition, an organization that meant a lot to her mother.
When her mother was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2003, Lantaigne said, she wanted to find a way she could help others effected by the disease.
First, Lantaigne channeled the energy into trying to convince the state Legislature to pass a bill to establish cancer license plates with proceeds going to fund cancer prevention, patient support and research.
When that didn't work out because of a lack of support, she decided to refocus her attention. That is when Tootsabella came about.
Lantaigne said she got the idea for the business after someone gave her 4-year-old daughter, Mia, some hair clips as a gift.
"I thought, 'These are cute,' but I could make these and I could do a better job making them."She made clips resembling baseballs, watermelons, shamrocks, bunnies, ducks, flowers and whatever else came to her mind.
When friends started complimenting her on the clips that Mia began to sport, she decided maybe this could be the avenue she was looking for to help others.
Tootsabella is the nickname Lantaigne's mother used to call her, and now she uses the name for her own daughter.
The former business and technology teacher said starting Tootsabella was right up her alley.
"I have always enjoyed creative things," Lantaigne said.
Each clip is handcrafted. She makes it a point to use products from other small business crafters, including all embroidery items.
Lantaigne hopes the business becomes a success.
"It would be nice to give the Cancer Coalition $100,000 each year," Lantaigne said. "Then again, I'm a one-woman show, and I can only make what I can make."
The coalition funds palliative care programs and cancer research grants through Boston's top hospitals.
During her mother's treatment, Lantaigne got to know the Zukers, a Massachusetts family who started the organization in honor of husband and father Michael Zuker, who lost his battle with lung cancer in 2003.
What she likes most about the group, Lantaigne said, is it ensures that funding goes to help those with all types of cancers.
"I think lung cancer has this stigma that you did it to yourself, when that isn't always the case," Lantaigne said. "There are also other lesser-known cancers that are notoriously underfunded."
[Rich Beauchesne Photo]