SAN ANTONIO — A local airman is getting crafty this holiday season – making military wreaths as a side business.
Staff Sergeant Nicole Pompei has been staying busy in her off-duty time as an entrepreneur.
Most of her homemade wreath creations are made from old military uniforms, although she does take custom orders for other non-military themed wreaths, too.
So far, the feedback from her customers has been enthusiastic.
“People have been so kind with uniform donations of all sorts, especially female veterans. Everyone has been so supportive and has so many kind words to say about my wreaths,” Pompei said. “It also hits home on a personal level, since the original one was created with my mother.”
Pompei, who is a former Marine and a current airman, said she got started over the summer when she was brainstorming what to do with her old uniforms since the Air Force was transitioning to a new set of fatigues.
“I was thinking of a cool way to memorialize my old Air Force ABU’s (Airman Battle Uniforms),” Pompei said. “A friend on a Facebook page recommended I try to make a wreath. When I went to visit my mom in July, we came up with a way to create the wreath. I had posted my creation on that same Facebook page after completing it, and 20 people commented, begging me to make one.”
She had an extra special request recently – to work with some old uniforms from 1946.
“I almost didn't have the heart to cut them,” she said. “I'm happy I did. Now they have a blended momento that they can hold with them for a lifetime.”
One of her customers said getting her uniforms made into a wreath was both a practical and special solution.
“I stumbled upon Nicole’s wreaths through a military group I’m in and knew I had to have one. I’ve been watching my old, phased out uniforms collect dust at the top of my closet, just trying to figure out what to do with them. Her wreaths are the perfect idea!” Jeri Billings-Carpenter posted on Facebook. “It’s so special to have a custom wreath made out of parts of my uniform to commemorate my time in the military.“
Meanwhile, Pompei said with each order, there’s a sense of pride and fulfillment when she takes on a new request.
“Each wreath tells a story, and that’s my favorite part about it. Whether it’s old uniforms stuffed in the back of someone’s closet, to retirements, birthdays, Christmas gifts – when I make each wreath, I get to learn a bit about someone’s service and I get to honor that service in a unique way.”
Pompei added her creations sometimes cause emotional reactions and she’s thought about adding a warning.
“I often joke that my motto should be, ‘Wreaths by Nicole P - Making moms cry since July 2020.’ I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had customers tell me the recipient began crying from being so overwhelmed with their gift.”