LYNDHURST, N.J. -- Nancy DelloMonaco started her business of making dolls and owls out of re-purposed fabrics to scratch a creative itch. Never did she realize her products would transform lives.
DelloMonaco’s business, Stitch Witch Me, started in 2011. She calls it her version of a “witch’s brew.”
“When I was a kid, I used to love the stories when a witch would put all sorts of unusual items into a pot, and out came a butterfly,’’ DelloMonaco said. “You never know what’s going to happen. That’s the way I feel. I’m creating new things and I never know what’s going to come out.”
DelloMonaco makes all the products herself. She started with fabrics from her children’s worn clothing. Her owls pillows inspired Rutherford breast cancer survivor to launch post-mastectomy kits, "Bob's Boxes."
All of DelloMonaco’s products are made on a sewing machine. Some parts are based off a template, some are not. She draws all the faces with a fabric marker, and then stitches them. Each item takes about three to five hours to produce. She sells her products at craft shows and online, and prices range from $10-$90.
“Sometimes I like them to tell a story,’’ DelloMonaco said. “I name all of them, because I put so much time into them. I will see a name in there as I go along. With the owls, I put something in there that shows a little bit of good luck and hope. The first person who purchased one did so for good luck. It seems to do the trick.”
And that’s where DelloMonaco sees the reward in her work. One of the unintended benefits of her products is the emotional lift that people feel when they purchase them. Post-mastectomy women who receive care packages from Bob’s Boxes have found great comfort in DelloMonaco’s owls and dolls.
“I’ve received emails from people that tell me the item is one of the best things they’ve gotten,’’ DelloMonaco said. “It’s something cute and fun, and it can do that much good. It’s really humbling. It gives you a lot of enthusiasm going into the next day. They’re not just decorative.”
At a recent craft show in Montclair, DelloMonaco told the story of a young girl from Australia. She was wheelchair bound and unable to speak. “She lit up when she saw this mermaid,’’ DelloMonaco said. “She had such joy on her face. If I didn’t sell another item the rest of the day, it was good. It was that perfect moment.”
DelloMonaco said she’s surprised the emotional impact her products can have on customers. “It surprises me that a lot of people love the stuff as much as they do,’’ she said. “It’s one of those things I never expected, but I’m thrilled every time.”
Her market ranges from young boys and girls to senior citizens. She sold a “monster doll” to keep bad vibes away from a young boy’s bedroom. “He thought the monster would help him fight them off,’’ she said. “You just never know what people are going to see in these dolls.”
DelloMonaco spent part of her employment career in the corporate world. She said unleashing her creative side provides a much more rewarding career.
“I love being creative, love being able to tell myself that I can take the morning off, and love to see the looks on people’s faces when they see the product,'' she said. "It could be cute, adorable or creepy, and it’s different than anything they’ve seen in any other place. This career is a lot more fun.”