Damita Bonnemere hopes that she’ll one day be able to get in touch with her part-time Pinterest self on a full-time basis.
The Auburn woman works as a mental health therapist for Cayuga Counseling Services by day. By night, she’s a crafter, exploring creative interests that first manifested when she was a teenager.
Since moving to Auburn from Pennsylvania around three years ago, Bonnemere has created festive favors for celebrations held by family and friends — a birthday party here, a baby shower there. She said she’d post her work to Facebook, and it wasn’t long before she was getting calls for more customized designs.
And when she found herself with “a whole floor” of floral arrangements and orders in her house, Bonnemere figured that maybe a business could work.
She has since opened Custom Celebrations in Auburn with a five-day-a-week operation to start. The specialty party shop on State Street celebrated its grand opening July 15 with a ribbon-cutting hosted with members of the Cayuga County Chamber of Commerce and the Cayuga Economic Development Agency.
Bonnemere said Custom Celebrations offers personalized ribbons, custom candy bar wrappers, novelty chocolates, invitations, balloon gift wraps and more. She said “the sky’s the limit” with products customers need for their parties, but Custom Celebrations asks for five to seven days of lead time to prepare the orders.
“It is totally personalized,” she said. “If they can imagine it, we can do it.”
A native of Peekskill, Bonnemere said she moved to Auburn because it reminded her of her hometown.
Her business has been years in the making. Bonnemere said she prepared for around five years while attending graduate school at Mercy College, later purchasing items like used furniture and repurposing them to meet her needs.
Bonnemere said Custom Celebrations has services for a variety of patrons, whether it’s the mother with young children or the bride-to-be. The store itself has a rear room where customers can go online and customize their choices with a tablet, or browse magazines for ideas.
“We wanted a place where people who are planning parties can take a moment to decide what they want as opposed to the chaotic children’s birthday parties out front,” Bonnemere said.
Her future goals for Custom Celebrations include delivery, more products and more staff. She’s a single mother with three children — her youngest, at 17, helps her out at the shop every once in a while, she said.
Deciding the scope of her business, Bonnemere said, was done with the help of the Cayuga Economic Development Agency. In working with the agency, Bonnemere said she was able to remain grounded with her concept while discovering the uniqueness of her business to the local area.
Indeed, Bonnemere said, she found that the specialty party shops offering custom-made goods in the Cayuga County area are few and far between.
“I felt the residents of Cayuga County deserved a little something that was closer to home,” she said before adding, “I think that’s essential that (local businesses) all find a niche and not duplicate services.”
This article originally published in The Citizen.