Hayleigh is an amazing 10-year old in many ways. She was a miracle baby, surviving a life-threatening congenital birth defect. She is a “mirror twin” to her sister (they have opposite handedness, lose opposite teeth, andtheir eyes exhibit opposite strengths and weaknesses). Having worn hearing aids since she was 18 months of age, she is a very independent user of her binaural behind-the-ear hearing instruments (her sister has normal hearing). She and her twin also perform in community theater, memorizing their lines and singing and dancing.
Probably the most unexpected thing about this very confident and engaging young lady is that she holds a provisional patent from the U.S. Patent Office forher unique hearing aid charms, aptly named, Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms.
It all started when she was 5 years old, and she and her sisters were at her grandmother’s house, drawing jewelry. She wanted to make jewelry for her hearing aids, and decided to turn it into her own little business. “I just want people to enjoy wearing their hearing aids and to make them feel special,” Hayleigh explained.
Her mom, Rachel, added, “This really struck a chord with us. We had talked with other parents about how hearing aids could be camouflaged in color or hidden behind long hair. And here was our 5-year-old and her sisters telling us there was a way to make them stand out and shine! We loved the idea.”
PATENT GRANTED—AT LAST
Hayleigh is also a very patient entrepreneur.
While waiting for the initial patent to be approved—a nearly 3-year process—she couldn’t wear her charms, advertise them, or promote them in any way. Then the momentous day arrived last September, when the provisional patent was granted. Hayleigh said, “A provisional patent means you get the patent for one year, then you can decide if you want to go for the full patent.” She is now looking for opportunities to keep her business growing and hopes to get a web page to share her creations with the world.
In addition to making hearing aid charms, Hayleigh designs and creates earrings, too. She gets her supplies from craft stores, and has about 50 designs available so far, including hearing aid charms with Swarovski crystals. She is working on some new ideas to make the charms even more convenient for little hands to use and change them. She proudly wears her creations to school— usually chosen to match her outfits, of course—and whenever she goes out with her family.
Even though most of her designs are for girls, she hasn’t forgotten the boys who want to show off their sports favorites. Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms have recently gone on display for sale in the office of audiologist, Michele Labrie, AuD, and children aren’t the only ones attracted to them. “I really like that the charms are helping people to feel confident about having hearing aids,” Hayleigh said.
Hayleigh has another lofty goal—to donate 10% of her proceeds to furthering research for hearing impairment and the education of the hearing impaired. She plans on making her first donation to Hear in New Hampshire (www. hearinnh.org), a non-profit organization providing a comprehensive auditory/oral education for young children who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Hayleigh’s business card simply states, “Designer & Creator.” to that she can add, “Rising Star.” You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maureen Doty Tomasula,AuD, is Product & Marketing
Making it easier to help children with hearing problems achieve their full potential