Every month I will be providing a spotlight on a local Essex business. They are all run by parents and either provide a service or gorgeous product that is worth a spot on my blogs.
This month is Laura from First Treasures. I first met Laura at a Basking Babies Maldon Coffee Morning and her products are simply gorgeous. She made all of the parents feel at ease whilst they were having their castings and the end products speak for themselves.
All Little Dreams Chelmsford and Colchester families who have worked 1:1 with me, also get 10% off as a special gift. Let’s meet Laura and find out how she has created such a lovely brand. Make sure you keep reading as her piece of parenting advice is absolutely perfect.
Tell us a bit about yourself, your business and how it started.
My name is Laura and I set up First Treasures 13 years ago, just after the birth of my first child. As soon as he was born my world changed; I felt as though I wanted to freeze time, he was just so precious and perfect! So I began learning to create 3d castings of his hands and feet for me to keep and remember how tiny he was. Then, a little later I started to make the outprint tiles and jewellery, these products were my First Treasures of him…
First Treasures started from very humble beginnings; working from my kitchen at home, creating castings for friends and family. I soon realised that I absolutely loved creating these memories for people and the positive feedback about my products blew me away! So I set about creating the brand and building my business; slowly but surely with the help of my previous career in marketing, First Treasures has grown to what it is today; something I am very proud of.
First Treasures has now created over 4000 professionally made 3d baby hand and foot castings, family handclasp sculptures and outprint tiles from my bespoke countryside studio near Chelmsford in Essex.
I still wish I could freeze time, as I now have 2 children who are getting incredibly grown up and I am left wondering – where did that time go? BUT I have created castings of them over the years to capture them when they were tiny and I am thankful for that. I have also created these special memories and keepsakes for so many local families too!
What is the process from someone making the first enquiry to having a beautiful product in their home.
The First Treasures studio is located at the end of a private drive in Boreham, Chelmsford. There is ample space for parking and the studio door is accessed from an enclosed courtyard adjacent to the customer parking spaces.
You will be put at ease from the moment you step into my studio; you will be guided through the layout, design and colour options of products, whilst being shown all of the example frames and castings on display.
The casting process is thoroughly explained, and very relaxed, everything will be done at your child’s pace, my experience and expertise means that the whole process is completely stress free. The casting process is completely skin -safe, your baby/child will have their hands or feet wrapped in a tepid mousse mixture which then becomes firm (but flexible) after a minute or two to allow them to slide out the hand/foot – which will come out clean.
Your baby doesn’t have to be asleep to have the casting done, the casting material and technique I use allows them to be able to wriggle a little during the process. I also have a box of distraction toys at hand should it be necessary! Some parents feed their babies during the casting which can help relax them.
There is no minimum age for babies to have a casting, I have cast babies as young as a few days old, right up to toddlers and older children. There is no upper age limit either, grandparents are very keen to have their hands casts with their precious grandchild.
3d casts take approximately 1 minute for each hand/foot. For outprints, it literally takes seconds for each one. I usually allocate 45 minutes for appointments, to allow time for choosing colours / frame types and for cleaning the studio in between castings.
The moulds for the castings are taken at the time of the appointment, but the magic really happens after you go home…
Once out of the mould I painstakingly remove any imperfections by hand to ensure that each cast captures every last detail of the hands and feet, therefore jewellery, fingernails, joints and palm lines are all clearly visible in each finished product. Casts are then sanded, shaped and prepared for painting. Paint finishes are then applied in many micro fine layers ensuring no detail is lost.
Studio castings at First Treasures are a world apart from ‘at home casting kits’, every part of the casting process is professionally executed and crafted, drawing on years of experience and design skills. Virtually any design request can be brought to life, the only limit is your imagination!
Once customers leave the studio, the castings take between 4-5 weeks to be created, throughout which customers are given regular updates on the progress of their castings in the production process. Completed orders are then collected from the First Treasures studio.
What is the best part of your job, and how do you manage family life and owning your own business.
The absolute best part of my job is creating beautiful physical memories for families. This can be baby casts which are incredible to look back on with your kids as they grow, but also wedding and anniversary sculptures, which can be really touching and poignant especially for older couples. I consider myself very honoured to create these for people.
I’m not going to lie, running First Treasures alongside raising a young family is not always plain sailing! Especially when my children were babies, the struggle was real trying to put in the hours in the studio when they wouldn’t nap or I was sleep deprived (which was the majority of the time for the first 2 years of each of their lives!) But to have created a successful business and still be going over 10 years later makes me very proud. I also love the fact that I can put my children first and always get to school assemblies, sports days or be there if the kids are ill. That is always my priority in life; to put my kids first.
What advice do you give to parents bringing babies and children to your studio.
The main piece of advice I give is to just relax! There is no expectation for your baby or child to be asleep for the casting to be successful or for them to be still! That is not realistic and I don’t need them to be. I always leave plenty of time between customers so it is never rushed, there is plenty of time to decide on the colour combinations you would like (everything is bespoke) and also for nappy changes / feeds if your child needs it. (They always
You also sell other products, tell us a bit more about these.
My new personalised gifts range celebrate all your children’s ‘Firsts’ from keepsake boxes, first curl and tooth fairy bags, milestone cards and framed baby shoes.
Personalised Tooth Fairy Bags – have them ready and waiting for when your little one has their first wobbly tooth!! Baby’s first ever haircut can be a pretty emotional milestone – these gorgeous little personalised bags are perfect to capture their first curl forever! Both are available with pink or blue writing featuring your baby or child’s name.
The milestone cards are botanical inspired eucalyptus themed with 24 cards in each pack. These include age milestones and developmental milestones such as sitting unaided, first solid food, first tooth etc.
I also create a wide range of beautiful personalised jewellery, capturing those unique, fingerprints, handprints, footprints and pawprints in stunning silver and stainless steel. All of our hand, foot and fingerprint jewellery pieces are made to order with each piece unique.
What was the best piece of parenting advice that you were given and what would you tell a new parent!
Just do you – try not to compare you and your children to others; it is not good for your mental health! And remember people’s Instagram grid is not their actual reality!
How can people contact you?