Updated: Feb 28, 2022
How It Started
During her time as a postpartum and newborn nurse, Holly Lara spent countless hours helping new moms start their breastfeeding journeys. Getting to witness those first few days of a relationship that lasts a lifetime is such a special gift, and it deeply impacted Holly’s heart. She remembers hearing of breastmilk jewelry while working in the hospital, and it piqued her interest. So, when her second child was born in January of 2020, Holly tried her hand at making her breastmilk into a ring, and learned firsthand how unique and precious this type of keepsake truly is.
Three months into her postpartum journey with her son, Holly’s 3-year old daughter was diagnosed with a form of brain cancer that would require 15 months of treatment. Immediately, Holly knew she would not be able to continue her job as a nurse. She wanted to be there for her daughter every step of the way, plus had her young baby to care for! Serendipitously, right before the diagnosis, Holly had posted her jewelry on her Facebook page. Comments and DM’s came pouring in with requests from other mothers wanting their breastmilk preserved and honored the same way. Holly got to work refining her creative process with the new medium.
Now, she devotes 100% of her creativity and entrepreneurial spirit to crafting special one-of-a-kind jewelry to commemorate that magical rite of passage for other mothers. She has made over 1,500 pieces for women in every state, including several different countries worldwide. Each piece she makes is also a reciprocal act; as it enables Holly to work from home, take care of her kids, and support her family.
Holly’s daughter is now in remission from her cancer, and she says they are taking it day by day and appointment by appointment. Holly’s ability to be present with her children, everyday, has made all the difference in the world for her family; and it’s launched a new trend among postpartum moms.
So how does one make breastmilk – a liquid – into jewelry? Holly started by looking up the process online, buying some DIY kits, and good old trial-and-error. The results were pretty–but a vivid bright white color. Holly wanted something more natural looking, so she joined a Facebook group of other artists, and started asking questions. More trial and error led her to a method she really likes and has stuck with ever since: she cooks the milk on high heat with a preservative that kills off the bacteria, and lets it dry out for a few weeks. That turns it into a crisp texture, which she then grinds into a fine powder. She mixes it with epoxy resin and makes it into a stone using a mold, then creates the ring or necklace.
A Lasting Legacy
Some of the stories people share along with their orders for breastmilk or cremation ash jewelry have moved Holly to tears. She beams with gratitude to get to give people a lasting memento from something that once was. Moms may never see their little one’s chubby finger all wrapped up in their hair as they nurse and coo at them again, but they can look down and see a ring that has all that blessed energy preserved and encased in its beauty.
“I love making these pieces for the moms because I know how special each and every breastfeeding journey is. It means so much to me to make something they can cherish and maybe pass down to their kids,” Holly says.
Every breastfeeding journey is unique, and with Holly’s gifted craftsmanship, she makes a solid memory into a stone that will last a lifetime. Most of her work is done with breastmilk, but about 20% of her orders are for cremation ash jewelry. A commemoration of a different sort; one Holly says she feels honored to be a part of. “To be trusted with a loved one’s ashes, and make them something to wear to feel like that person or pet is with them at all times, is priceless,” she says. It’s a precious stone, indeed.
Click here to see current popular designs on the Tree of Life website.
Written by Chelsea Hover
For Holly Lara