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Friday, 31 October 2014

Carlisle woman hopes her Keepsakes idea can make big impression

If innovation is the key to success in business, Danielle Hammond is on to a winner.

Keepsakes photo
Danielle Hammond and Mark Bowes with baby Ella and one of their mementos

The qualified make-up artist has started a business making plaster casts as mementos.

Subjects can include a baby’s hands and feet, an expectant mum’s pregnancy bump, newlyweds holding hands, a face, or a pet’s paw impressions.

The finished casts can be framed, mounted on a plinth or kept in a box, and make unusual keepsakes or gifts.

The idea is not unique but the nearest direct competitor is in Cornwall.

Miss Hammond, 26, set up Keepsakes by Danielle in July and runs it with her partner, Mark Bowes, 27, from their home in Greystone Road, Carlisle.

She said: “People can buy kits on the internet to do this sort of thing but they rarely work and usually disappoint.

“We use a product called alginate for the mould, which is non toxic.

“It is what a dentist uses to do dental impressions. It sets very quickly but captures lots of detail.”

Prices start at £35 and go up to £180 for a series of casts, perhaps as baby grows bigger over several months.

The setting time for the mould varies from 30 seconds to two minutes.

If it isn’t right first time, the process is repeated.

The youngest model to date has been a two-week-old baby.

Miss Hammond said: “We guarantee that we get a perfect cast and we do it until we get one the customer likes.

“We go to the customer’s house. Young children are a lot calmer when they’re in their own environment. When they’re in new surroundings they can be distracted.”

She delivers the completed cast by hand.

She added: “Once the cast is done the mould is destroyed, so it’s a genuine one-off.”

Miss Hammond originally trained as a beauty therapist.

She came up with idea for the business when she moved back to Carlisle after completing a degree in make-up artistry and special effects at Bradford College.

She still works as a make-up artist for photo shoots and films.

She worked on The Maniac Project, a low-budget yet award-winning independent horror production by two Carlisle film makers, since acquired by a Los Angeles distribution firm.

She also teaches beauty part-time at Carlisle College.

But she hopes that Keepsakes by Danielle will become a full-time job.

Miss Hammond said: “When I had my daughter, Ella, a year ago we did a 3-D cast of her hands and feet.

“Then I started doing them as a favour for friends and they were really pleased. I got encouraged to do it for other people and it really snowballed from there.

“We did a Christmas fair at the Crown & Mitre Hotel because we knew they would be perfect as Christmas gifts.

“I’d like my own shop one day so that people can come in and see what I do.”

In the meantime, customers can look online at www.facebook.com/daniellehammondmakeupandkeepsakes/info. Miss Hammond can be contacted on 07841 744796 or by email at keepsakesbydanielle@gmail.com.

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