After experiencing the death of several loved ones over the last decade, Leslie Hertzfeld and her daughter, Angela Hall, felt that the best way to honor those who had died - and maybe ease their own grief - was to help others open up about their own painful losses.
Inspiration hit them in the form of a ribbon magnet that Angela saw on the back of a car on the way to the hospital shortly before both her grandfather and her mother-in-law died in March.
"I said, 'We've got to do something to remember our loved ones.' If we put something on a car magnet, maybe more people would see it and be nicer to those who are grieving," Angela said.
Thus was born Inspired To Be LLC, a mom-and-pop operation run out of Mrs. Hertzfeld's home near Grand Rapids, Ohio. Begun in August, mother and daughter sell car and refrigerator magnets that can be personalized to honor deceased loved ones.
Car magnets are $5.99, refrigerator magnets $4. They feature an angel, a tribute, and space for a name. The two women take orders via a Web site, inspiredtobe.com, and have contacted religious stores and Centering Corp., a firm specializes in grief counseling, about carrying their product.
So far, they said they have sold about 50 car magnets in the three months their product has been available.
Car magnets have become a hot niche industry since 2002 as consumers bought magnetic yellow ribbons to honor U.S. troops in the Middle East. Mike Jouver, a manager at Flexmag Industries Inc. in Marietta, Ohio, said printable soft magnetic sheets are a $50 million industry in the United States.
However, Mrs. Hertzfeld, 56, and Ms. Hall, 30, of Bowling Green, said their business venture isn't motivated by money.
It stemmed from the death of Mrs. Hertzfeld's son, Billy, 18, who was killed seven years ago in a car crash near Grand Rapids. Angela not only lost her brother that day, but 11 years ago her fiance died in an auto accident. Those losses, plus the death of her mother-in-law and her grandfather gave the women plenty of motivation.
"If you have the magnet, it honors the person every day," Mrs. Hertzfeld said.