CBS NEWS --- An innovative member of the U.S. Air Force is spreading joy and honoring colleagues with her creations, using a commonly used military item.
She started a company out of her home in San Antonio, Texas that turns old uniforms into patriotic wreaths, and she's lifting spirits, one wreath at a time.
Air Force Staff Sergeant Nicole Pompei is using her hobby to help bring military careers full circle.
Pompei is the founder of "Wreaths by Nicole", which was started unintentionally after posting a picture of an early creation to Facebook.
"…I was like ‘hey ladies, what do you think?’ and 20 females were like I need one! And I was like ‘oh, i’m not intending to sell these but okay!...’. My mom was like ‘okay, lets go! I got some fabric, we're gonna cut a whole bunch of stuff before you leave, let's do this,’" said Pompei.
She fabricates the wreaths using old military uniforms –- some sent in from around the country, and some, with plenty of history.
"…When they're the really old uniforms, like I had to cut ones up from 1946, I was like ahhhh do I cut these oh my god! History!,” said Pompei.
"…I want to put a lot of care into it, when I make it. The uniform, I respect it so much. So I want to make sure it's a good quality product that is going to bring meaning and worth its money and worth it's time... I love seeing the reactions of people. My made-up slogan is "wreaths by Nicole P,, making moms cry since July 2020”.
250 wreaths later, and an inbox full of requests, their impact is being felt around the country. Retired Army Master Sergeant Matt Law gifted one to a friend and fellow service member.
“She pulled out the gift bag and she just, she was flabbergasted by it because it had her name on it at her rank, you know, it was, it was the uniform” said Law.
“Seeing how much that it meant to her to see a symbol of what she has done for her through her career, something that symbolizes her service, her dedication, it made me feel really good and without Nicole coming up with this idea, it never would have came to fruition.”
“I can't get enough of the reactions of people when they receive their wreath, and it's really heart warming to know that you made this thing that caused somebody to react in such a heartfelt way like Matthew and his friend. I watched that video and she was beyond words and tears automatically started falling down her face, and I was like, that's why I do it,” said Pompei.