Friendship first, business second leads to creative success for Pickle Mamas
Posted November 1, 2015
It started organically. And it continues, organically. The women who formed the Pickle Mamas started as pickle sellers, continued as hula hoopers and have dipped their toes in everything from home organization to Reiki healing to jewelry and clothing. Let's throw some yoga and actual hula hoop making in there too.
They hula hoop across the Triangle, having become popular fixtures at some local events, especially in the children's areas where they bring out hula hoops (including Go Ask Mom's event at the Midtown Farmers' Market in September). And they also teach the skill in workshops, classes and even hula hoop-making birthday parties.
But, Pickle Mamas is much more than a business. It's the natural extension of a deep friendship between three women - two moms and another mom-to-be.
"We all have different aspects that we shine in," said Grayson Hampson, one-third of the Pickle Mamas. "It's a place for us to be creative."
At other points of their days, the three Triangle women who make up Pickle Mamas - Hampson, Meghan Kerr and Angela Duke - are doing something completely different. Hampson is raising her young son with plans to return to her career in design in the new year. Duke, who is expecting her first child, is a sales account executive for Apple Rock Displays. And Kerr, a mom of two, is a senior fiscal manager for contracts and grants at N.C. State University.
The group started 15 years ago when Hampson and Kerr, students at Meredith College, traveled across the country, following the band Phish. To pay for their travels, the two started selling pickles in the parking lot, making some pretty good money. To pass the time, they'd hula hoop. At one point, a concert goer pointed the two out and mentioned the "Pickle Mamas." Consider that the Pickle Mamas' delivery date.
"It totally found us," said Hampson. "This whole thing found us."
Hampson and Kerr took hula hooping seriously. Not satisfied with the standard hoop that you'd find at a toy store, the two investigated ways to make their own sturdy hoops. Hoop sales also eventually became part of their business, along with jewelry and clothing sales.
After graduating from Meredith, the two got to work in the real word. But they never left the Pickle Mamas behind. In fact, they added to it. In 2008, Duke entered the picture after meeting the two at a hula hoop class.
Today, they all have leadership roles of some kind. Hampson is the "boss." Kerr is the "leader." And Duke is the "manager." They work together to support each other professionally and personally, helping each other find balance in all parts of their lives.
"We all offer unselfishly to the group," Duke said. "We just give and it always works out."
What's next for Pickle Mamas? They don't even know. They hope to continue to spread their love of hooping across the region. And they all expect that Pickle Mamas will be the place for their various other creative pursuits.
"Whatever we're into," said Kerr, "we throw it under Pickle Mamas and we take it to the world."
They have some upcoming classes. Duke will teach a fitness hula hooping class from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., Wednesdays, at Wake Forest's Alston - Massenburg Center. The next five-week session begins Nov. 25. Register through Wake Forest's online park programs site (search for "hooping").
The trio also sometimes teach classes and workshops at Cirque de Vol Studios in downtown Raleigh. And Kerr teaches a noon, Monday, yoga class at N.C. State. The group's website also has information about upcoming events and its birthday parties.
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