The whole pacakage: Marriage, baby, home and homecoming mums

Sept. 23, 2011 at 4:23 a.m.

Laura Gonzalez shows part of a garter used during homecoming for a Victoria West High School student.

Laura Gonzalez shows part of a garter used during homecoming for a Victoria West High School student.

When Laura Gonzalez first walked into her new, three-bedroom home, any dreams her fiance may have had for a man's pad didn't stand a chance. She had staked her claim.

The family of three moved in August - just in time for homecoming and just in time to transform a small bedroom with hardwood floors and plenty of natural light into a mum-crafter's utopia.

What started three years ago as a few crafts on the kitchen table has become a bona fide small business, its headquarters stocked with layers of ribbon, garland, feathers and trinkets.

"My glue guns are always on because no telling," Gonzalez, 22, said.

Since the beginning of this year's homecoming season, Gonzalez has stapled, tied and glued, glued, glued, almost 30 mums - all while transitioning into full-time mommy-hood.

Gonzalez named her operation after her 6-month-old daughter, who naps in her crib right off of the mum studio. Madisyn's Glitz and More is a one-woman operation that has spread through word of mouth and Facebook, prompting strangers to light up Gonzalez's phone with detailed requests for homecoming mums.

"I wish I knew how to do this when I was in high school. It can get expensive," Gonzalez said, petting a half-finished mum for West High School's homecoming.

Any money Gonzalez makes from selling three or four mums, she uses to restock her growing supply of glitz, neatly organized in her room.

She recycles old ribbon spools, enlists family members to search for deals and stocks up on discounts from the Christmas sections after the holiday in an effort to keep her prices low. After all, Gonzalez said she can remember not long ago, when as a high schooler, the price of mums could rack up.

She said she doesn't skimp on even her cheapest mums.

"I make it the way I know they will like it. I know people are struggling. I do it because I like to do it."

Making mums is a good gig for a first-time mom, Gonzalez said, because it keeps her busy and allows time to spend with her daughter.

"If you do everyday what you like, you'll never work a day in your life. I'm going to do this as long as I can," she said.

Eventually, her fiance Frank Salazar Jr. even got on with the project - especially since it's moved from drowning the kitchen in garland to occupying its own neat space.

"Last year, (he) asked, 'Are you almost done? How much longer?' Then when he saw the money come in, he's like, 'OK, can I help you?'" Gonzalez said, laughing.

Madisyn does her part, too, tasting the ribbon, grasping the shiny bling and mostly looking good on mama's lap. Gonzalez said she wouldn't mind outgrowing this house - at least the mum room - and continuing to expand her business.

She also plans to return to school to study nursing or cosmetology, using some of the mum money along the way.

"It's a good start. New house, baby, we're engaged," she said. "It's working out good for the both of us. We can't complain."



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