Here is an excerpt from another article written about Hayleigh's Cherished Charms...
By HATTIE BERNSTEIN
Hayleigh was 5 and drawing at her grandmother’s kitchen table in Texas when she designed her first hearing aid charms.
“I don’t remember how I got the idea. I was drawing pictures, and my mom walked in and said, ‘What is that?’ And I think that I said, “Charms that go on your hearing aids,’” the kinetic 10-year-old said during an interview at her family’s kitchen table.
The large window next to the table offered a hilltop view of orchards and forest that stretched for miles.
But Hayleigh, a fifth-grader, focused on what was under her nose: a display of hearing aid charms and pierced earrings she has been designing, creating, and selling for the past year, ever since she received a provisional patent for “Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms.”
Hayleigh’s creations grew out of her imagination and her earliest childhood experiences.
She was born with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia, a hole in her diaphragm that resulted in the misplacement of her organs.
Her heart was located under an arm and her stomach, intestines, and bowels assumed the space meant for her lungs.
Doctors knew before Hayleigh, who has a twin sister, Vienna, was born that she was facing serious challenges.
They offered Hayleigh’s parents, Rachel and Andrew, little hope and few choices: They could abort the 16-week-old fetus and allow her healthy twin to develop alone; Rachel could undergo an experimental procedure with low odds for success; or they could do nothing.
“We did a lot praying,” Rachel said.
She leaned closer to her daughter.
“We decided we’d give you a chance,” the mother said.
A day after her birth, Hayleigh had surgery that relocated her organs and mended her diagphragm. She weighed 4 pounds, 7 ounces, and was sustained by feeding tubes and ventilators.
The doctors had told her parents that they would put her on life support only if she weighed at least 4 pounds and 6 ounces.
Hayleigh had been born with three-quarters of one lung and one-half of the other, not enough lung capacity to survive, the medical experts had agreed.
“We couldn’t talk to her or touch her because that made her heart beat faster,” Rachel recalled.
She was baptized in the ICU, with just her father and his pastor present. No other non-medical people were allowed.
“She made it. It was an incredible miracle,” Rachel said. “Her heart moved itself back to the right location. Her lungs filled her chest cavity and were full-sized and functioning.”
Until she was 18 months old, nobody realized Hayleigh had a hearing impairment.
“When she was first diagnosed with the hearing impairment, we thought, ‘Another thing to throw at this little one’,” Rachel remembered.
“It’s embarrassing to say, but you project on your child the future, adolescence. The teen years are difficult if you have something visibly different about you. You want your child to be as loved by everybody else as you love them.”
Not long after, Hayleigh’s parents learned that their little girl would need eyeglasses.
“First hearing aids, and now glasses,” the mother said.
Family members and friends were encouraging.
“You can grow her hair long and cover the hearing aids, and people won’t notice,” they said.
But the mother also worried about her child’s speech.
At the time, she said, she didn’t know that early intervention, including a preschool for deaf children, would allow her daughter, who has severe to profound hearing loss, to easily read lips and to fluctuate her voice.
“I was still in that old mind frame, that someone profoundly deaf speaks with a heavy tongue, and that isn’t the future of hearing impaired any longer,” Rachel Scott said.
Still, it took several years, and her daughter’s continuing interest in designing hearing aid charms, for the mother to understand what her daughter already knew.
“I had to step back. I said, ‘Wow!’ We were way off base here, and being different isn’t something we should hide or mask, but we should celebrate it.”
Now, there’s no stopping Hayleigh, who enlists the artistic talents of her sisters. (both girls also have little businesses: her twin makes purses and sells them, and her little sister does the same with tote bags.)
Hayleigh designs and constructs the hearing aid charms and also makes matching pierced earrings for anyone who uses one hearing aid and wants a matched charm for the other ear.
Some of her charms are fancy and sparkly and come in silver and gold colored metals. Others are brightly-colored glass beads and plastic that replicate hamburgers, hot dogs, soccer balls, lady bugs, turtles, frogs, baseball caps and snakes.
Still others, including a group of “changeable charms” that she sells in sets, reflect holiday themes.
And there are also mother-daughter pairs and dangling Swarovski-like crystal charms that fit into hearing aids and pierced ears, or both.
Interest and sales, the young jewelry maker said, have been strong from the beginning.
“A woman who couldn’t get her ears pierced bought a cute little pair of lady bugs that we first thought would go to a kid,” Hayleigh said.
She sells her charms at her audiologist’s office, where recently they were spotted by a woman who sells a line of popular catalog jewelry.
The sales representative asked the little girl and her mother for samples, saying she wants to propose Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms for the catalog.
Hayleigh also sells her charms online and at craft fairs.
The budding entrepreneur is learning early that success depends on going the extra mile for her customers. It also requires giving back.
After receiving a letter from someone who purchased a single charm and sent it to Hayleigh asking for a match, Hayleigh not only produced the match but added another pair at no charge.
She donates 10 percent of her profits to schools for the hearing impaired and to hearing research.
To promote her creations, which cost between $8 and $18, she wears them, matching colors and designs to her outfits.
“The first time I wore them to school, the gym teacher complimented me,” she said.