When you consider what our healthcare heroes have worked through since the start of the pandemic, it's no wonder the burnout factor is so high.
But a Connecticut mother found a way to take a step back from the demands of nursing by taking a chance on her herself, and it's paying off in a big way.
"Go out and just give it your all," Lynn Rivera said.
Lynn and Omar Rivera aren't just living the American dream in the heart of West Hartford. Like small business owners across the country, they are the American dream.
"It's a pretty wild ride that we've been on, five years in the making. And we don't take any of it for granted," Lynn said.
She has found a way to turn a lost art into lucrative passion.
"I create, design, sew plushies for sale," Lynn said.
But they're not your average plush toys. LaLa Dollies are one-of-a-kind and handmade with love.
"Everything is hand cut, the faces are embroidered. I use my sewing machine for some of the major stitches," Lynn said. "I stuff them up and send them off with a little note."
They're luxury dolls for kids, collectors and everyone in between. It's an idea born out of sweet memories and necessity for the mother of three.
“I remember when I was a little girl, my grandmother made me a pillow. I had drawn such an attachment to that and found some deep comfort in it. I figured maybe I can make something for my son to help him stay in his bed," Lynn said.
And it worked - more than they could've imagined.
"It really saved her, it saved us all," Omar said.
Lynn had been a full-time home care nurse for years when the pandemic hit. Making LaLa Dollies was a way to escape from it all.
"It was very therapeutic for me," she said. "I found peace in it, it was very calming to really focus on something that wasn't stressful."
Using social media and word of mouth, Lynn tapped into a community that turned out to be a game changer. The business receives and ships orders worldwide to areas like Singapore, Canada and Europe.
Looking at the website, you'll notice LaLa Dollies aren't cheap.
"You're paying for art," Lynn said.
But it's the response that brings Lynn the most joy.
"A lot of customers have reached out to me to tell me how special these plushies have meant to them...It feels really good to be able to bring something like that, to stir up those kinds of positive emotions in people just by something that I created in my own hands," Lynn said.
While she's busy butting, sewing and creating, Omar packs, ships and handles the web. LaLa Dollies are sold online and new collection drops often sell out in minutes.
"I couldn't be more proud of her. She's built it from the ground up and we get to share that story and our kids get to live it and see what it's like to put the work in, to show up," Omar said.
It's a secret to success to Rivera's are happy to share.
"Why not say yes to yourself and take a risk? As long as it's something that you're passionate about. You've got to go out and just give it your all," Lynn said.
She's still practicing nursing, but only when she wants to. Business has been such a success, her extended family often lends a hand just to help keep up with the demand.
If you'd like to learn more about LaLa Dollies, click here.
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