AUSTIN - Austin is a city that encourages artistic expression in many ways. You can see it on the roads, through music and inside business walls as well. However, there is one mobile business -- the only one of its kind in Texas -- trying to break the mold in a unique way.
Ericka Lamanna has lived all around Texas during her life, before settling down in Austin about 12 years ago. During college and even throughout her career, art has been a big part of her life -- specifically pottery.
"I have a background in art and pottery," Lamanna said. "It's something that has always just been a part of my life."
With this mindset set in stone, Lamanna wanted to venture out and do something creative with her pottery. Early this year, she found her inspiration.
"I was at a baby shower at the end of last year and they made one of these belly casts, and I was thinking how cool that was," Lamanna said. "The cast just seems like the type of thing that gets stuck in the back of your closet. It just came to my mind you could make a really cool bowl out of that cast."
Before Lamanna could turn this idea into a business, she had to get some practice in first.
"I borrowed my friend's cast and started making these ceramic maternity bowls," Lamanna said. "Word of mouth just started spreading, so I started taking requests."
Since February 2017, Lamanna has been making and selling these maternity bowls to people in Austin and now around the country. Lamanna makes these bowls by glazing and firing three times at 2,000 degrees, which allows it to be safe for food, water and even babies themselves. If a customer lives outside the state, Lamanna will send them instructions for how to make the cast, ship it down to her and then send it back after turning it into a bowl.
"I've done roses, rainbows and all types of shapes," Lamanna said. "This allows me to really get creative and come up with new ideas."
One of the expecting moms who decided to get a maternity bowl is Allison Dubose, who lives in Austin as well. Dubose already has two boys and is expecting her third child in October.
"I'll be getting McKinley in 37 days," Dubose said. "We're all excited."
Dubose heard about these bowls from a friend and wanted to get one to have this moment in her life -- and her soon-to-be daughter's life -- captured in a physical object.
"I haven't heard of anything like this before," Dubose said. "It's a cool moment that not a lot of people are able to actually have. I can use this forever."
Charis Rosario is another Austin customer who recently had her baby and received two bowls from Lamanna. One of her bowls was ocean-themed and decorated with different types of animals.
"It's more than I expected," Rosario said. "It's beautiful. They're so awesome. It's a privilege to have this now and keep it forever."
As of now, Lamanna visits customers' homes and apartments around Austin to make these bowls. However, with sustained success, she hopes to expand her project beyond a part-time mobile business.
"Some day if it gets to be more than I can handle, then I plan on trying to open up a store and then see where things go," Lamanna said.
To learn more about this business, you can visit maternitybowls.com.
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