Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms

2 07 2011

Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms was one of the exhibitors at the annual Hearing Loss Association of America Convention, held last month in nearby Crystal City, Virginia.

HAYLEIGH’S ROCKY START
Before Hayleigh Scott was born, a sonogram revealed that she had a congenital diaphragmatic hernia, which displaced her organs. Her parents, Rachel and Andrew, were given options to terminate one baby, in-utero surgery, or to just “watch and wait.” They opted for the latter, with much prayer and support from family and friends. Her twin, Vienna, was healthy at birth; Hayleigh was not. She was in the ICU for two and half months and had to be quarantined for the first two years of her life. They noticed her hearing loss when she was 18 months old. She was diagnosed with severe-to-profound hearing loss and has been wearing hearing aids (and decorating them!) ever since.

AN ENTREPRENEUR IS BORN
When Hayleigh was five, she decided she wanted to show off her hearing aids with some “bling.” She started drawing sketches with her sisters and a few years later, their mom helped them make the designs into jewelry. With the help of her mother, father, twin sister Vienna and younger sister Sarah, Hayleigh turned this kitchen table venture into a full-fledged business, Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms. She encourages her customers to celebrate their uniqueness by embellishing their hearing aids and cochlear implants and not trying to hide them.

She and her two sisters make all the jewelry, which includes more than 50 hearing aid charms (see sample at left). They also create cochlear implant bling, bracelets, earrings and necklaces. Their newest creations are colorful and fun Tube Twists (shown at right) and Snake Tube Twists. And they’re not just for girly girls (and big girls)—they create charms for boys and tomboys, too! The charms are reasonably priced—from $10 to $25—and shipping on all orders is free in the U.S. and international shipping is just $5. Hayleigh is committed to giving back to the community she serves—ten percent of all proceeds are donated to furthering hearing research and education of the hard of hearing and deaf community.

A PASSION FOR BUSINESS
Her parents then applied for a provisional patent for her invention. A three-year process, this meant she couldn’t wear the charms, promote them or advertise them during that time. Now that’s what I call an extremely patient entrepreneur. Hayleigh and her sisters are so engaging and lively, and their enthusiasm for their products and their business is contagious! As a self-employed person for more than 20 years, I can relate to their joy and enthusiasm for their passion. Their booth was always busy and Vienna later told me that they did really well in their first time as exhibitors at an HLAA Convention.

Audiologist Douglas Beck conducted an interview last year with Hayleigh and her mother about Hayleigh’s hearing loss and her blossoming business for The American Academy of Audiology website. From that interview, I learned that Hayleigh and Vienna are “mirror twins.” I wasn’t familiar with that term until now. It means they have opposite identical features, like left versus right handedness and their hair parts on opposite sides. Read that interview transcript here. Author Maureen Doty Tomasula wrote about Hayleigh in her article, Sharing Her Special Charm, published in The Hearing Journal in September 2009.

SHARING A COMMON BOND
Hayleigh may not know this, but she shares an honor that I was privileged to receive a few years ago. She is the first place winner in the Student Category of the 2010 Oticon Focus on People Award. Congratulations, Hayleigh! I received first place in the Adult Category in 2008. Hearing Loss Magazine editor Barbara Kelley secretly nominated me for the award. Oticon flew all the winners and a guest to Denver for the ceremony, and I wrote about that amazing experience (thanks again, Barbara!) on my blog here.

To continue in the “six degrees of separation” vein, I met my friend and HLAA member Lynn Rousseau while in Denver at the Oticon Awards event. She was a first place award recipient in the Advocacy Category. We became fast friends and her life story was so interesting that I suggested to Barbara that we profile her in Hearing Loss Magazine. She made her cover feature debut in the May/June 2011 issue, which I wrote about here.

I photographed the entire Scott family (including Hayleigh’s adorable cherub of a brother, AJ) at the end of the Convention. Look for Hayleigh and her family in a future issue of Hearing Loss Magazine!

All photos (except product photos) © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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