Paula Lazardo never intended to make a living by painting baby helmets, but life has a funny way of bringing us exactly where we need to be.
The grandmother from Washington state said she’s always loved art, so when a friend asked her to turn a baby’s practical medical helmet into something more fun, she gladly agreed.
These helmets are used to help infants’ heads form correctly. They’re only needed for the 10 percent of little ones who have plagiocephaly, a condition that flattens part of their soft skulls.
As soon as the baby’s doctor saw Paula’s decorations on the helmet, he knew countless other patients would want one too — and helped spread the word!
“He saw the benefit of having the helmet painted for his clients,” Paula explained. “It was one of those snowball things…” Now, nearly 99 percent of what I do is paint for babies! Which is the best job I’ve ever had.”
Since that first time in 1996, Paula has painted over 3,000 helmets! She still can’t believe something so simple has changed so many lives for the better, including her own.
“It’s like, ‘Who knew? Who knew?!’ I didn’t wake up one day and think, ‘I’m going to get into the helmet business,’” Paula said. “It’s just a really happy thing being able to do this.”
One of the reasons her work is so important is that these babies must wear their protective gear 24 hours a day, seven days a week for several months.
Paula frequently has her clients ship helmets to her overnight to meet this pressing need. She then creates artwork and returns it to them within 24 hours.
The artist uses only water-based nontoxic paint for her creations and charges about $200-$350 per helmet.
Her most popular design themes are aviators, sports logos, Captain America, “Where The Wild Things Are,” and motorcycle helmets. She also takes requests and does custom jobs as long as parents send her a picture or a link showing what they want.
Paula’s hope is to turn these medical tools into something fun that any kid would love to wear! She also wants to erase the stigma around babies who wear helmets, especially for parents who have to constantly explain them to strangers.
“It’s such a worthwhile thing to see babies look so cute and happy, and parents are overjoyed, and to be able to have conversations with people who look at the helmet and say, ‘That is so cute!'” ‘What is the purpose of this?’ They’re not saying, ‘Oh, your poor baby,'” Paula elaborated.
Of course, the best part about her job is bringing so many people joy!
“That’s what I love about the art that I’ve been able to do in my life: It’s always been for other people,” Paula said. “It’s been able to make other people happy. That’s why I’ve got the best job!”
She recently branched into creating miniature helmets designed to fit a child’s doll. As we know, it’s so important for kids to have toys that look like them, and Paula is helping them feel not just normal but cool!
One look at these happy faces tells you everything you need to know about Paula’s work! What a wonderful way to serve others.
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