DOWNERS GROVE – The tablecloths Laura Eboli made for her two teenage daughters for their first birthdays are now covered in signatures and special memories, written by old friends and family every year as they gathered around the birthday cake.
Like a baby book, the tablecloths collect those moments from each year. But instead of gathering dust on a shelf, friends and family get to relive those moments every time they're brought out for the next birthday celebration.
"This is just a solid reminder of a more simple time when people wrote messages that lasted," the Downers Grove resident said. "Cards get thrown in a drawer, but this, everything lives on. The child will be able to look back and see messages from their grandparents and friends. They can see their own handwriting, you can kind of watch their handwriting change. They kind of grow up on the tablecloth."
After getting the basic idea from a friend, Eboli went all-out with her tablecloths – it would take her four hours just to cut out all the differently shaped fabric pieces that outline each of the 10 spaces where birthday revelers could write their message. Soon, she was getting requests from friends at baby showers to make them one of their own.
After hand-making the cloths for years, Eboli has started a business named Mabel Mabel, and sourced a manufacturer to produce her intricate tablecloth for retail sale. She just got her first shipment in last month, and buyers can find the gift item for sale at several area stores, including Style Studio in Downers Grove, My Sister Kate in Hinsdale and Vintage Charm in LaGrange.
Next month, she will travel to a large convention in Atlanta where she hopes to further expand her distribution and sales.
"I've designed it to be for both a boy or a girl," she said. "The idea is that it really is for a first birthday or a baby shower gift. It really is that special, unique gift, if someone is looking for something out there, this is it."
Eboli's background is in advertising and marketing, and this is her first foray as an entrepreneur.
"It's been quite the challenge," she said. "It's very exciting and it's all a little scary at the same time. Something that's always lived in your head, and then once it's out and you start rolling with it, it's a whole different ballgame. It takes some patience and time. The challenge with my product is that nobody really knows what this is right now. Once people hear about it and understand it is, they say, 'That's just the greatest idea.'"
Visit MabelMabel.com for more info.