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Metal Ribbons help people remember, honor

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Joy Curry was looking for a way to honor her mother's memory when she stumbled onto a business last year.

Her mother, Brenda Counts, died of ovarian cancer last fall. Curry, 32, was looking for an ovarian cancer awareness ribbon to attach to her mother's gravesite.

Curry found flags and magnet ribbons, but no lawn ornaments. She couldn't find any businesses online that offered what she was looking for.

"My husband said, 'I can make that,'" Curry said. "I thought, this is awesome, so he painted some more."

The ribbons have become the basis of her business, which she simply calls "Metal Ribbons."

Each of the handmade lawn ornaments is painted with the colors and design of the customer's choice: Purple for Alzheimer's disease awareness, red for heart disease, yellow for childhood cancer, and so forth.

"We can make any color that's recognized as national awareness," Curry said.

The 18-inch by 10-inch ribbons come with a stand that can be set in the ground. They can also be fixed to gravesites.

"I think [the ribbons] help people raise awareness," Curry said. "We had some people give them as gifts. Someone gave [one] to their 12-year-old niece. That kind of made me sad."

Curry said she's selling the ribbons not only as a way to make a profit, but also as a way to help people remember and honor their loved ones. The motto of the business is to honor, remember and support someone close to you, she said.

A portion of the proceeds from each of the ribbons benefits an organization that supports the cause.

While Curry's husband, Brian Curry, made the first one, she now pays a friend to make and paint them.

Since starting the business six month ago, Curry has been selling the ribbons online and at events around town.

She runs the business out of her Charleston residence. Without a storefront, she relies on word of mouth and the business generated from Metal Ribbon's website and Facebook page.

"We've shipped them quite a few places," Curry said. "We've shipped two childhood cancer ribbons to Florida, [some] to Ohio, Virginia. I think once people see them, they'll want them, but pictures don't always do them justice."

Curry and her husband relied on their own money to start the business, she said.

"We had to be committed," she said. "We're using our own resources. We didn't get a loan. [We have] good faith that it will take off."

The mother of 3-year-old Charlie and 7-month-old Jackson said the past six months of being a business owner have been busy.

"It's hard," she said of balancing motherhood and the business. "I'm up early wrapping ribbons because [I] can't just take two hours out of my day to work on the business."

At the same time, Curry, who earned a business degree at the University of Charleston, said working has been good for her. She's wanted to return to work since she gave up her position as a project manager at Pray Construction Company when her mother became ill, she said.

"That's been good for me, to do that kind of thing," Curry said. "I worked three days a week when my first was born."

For more information, see www.metalribbons.com.

Reach Lori Kersey at lori.kersey@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.


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