Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Deaf woman opens storefronts hoping to inspire others with disabilities

ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – After years of dealing with prejudice and discrimination in the workplace while looking for a job, a deaf woman from Albuquerque opens her own business – and some of the products are already a hit. Bath bombs and beauty products weren’t part of Christi Leonardi’s original career plan.

“I actually wanted to study anthropology. I wanted to be an anthropologist, but my daughter was showing signs of disability and needed me, ”said Leonardi, owner of the Hotsy Totsy house. “I had to spend more time with her and be there for her while she was going through these things.”

Leonardi is deaf and knew only too well the importance of being there for her daughter, so she dropped out of college. However, finding a job was not easy. Because of her own disability, she was often discriminated against when looking for a new job, says Leonardi.

“The biggest obstacle is communication and taking it seriously. I think being both a woman and deaf has the same difficulties, ”said Leonardi. “People assume that you are not intelligent because you are deaf. You don’t have the courage to be in a position of power or authority or to be successful, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. “

Eventually, to make extra cash, she started making bath bombs and selling them on Etsy. The launch of Hotsy Totsy House, Leonardi’s online business rooted in self-care, quickly caught celebrity attention and became a favorite for award bags.

“I like making her really, really pretty. Sometimes they’re a little rustic, sometimes gold, but they have to be pretty and unique in their own way. It also has to be really good for the skin, ”said Leonardi. “I did the Grammys and this will be my second time, actually the third time I do the Oscar swag bags.”

Now, after years of development, the single mother and entrepreneur is opening her first stationary shop. She hopes that not only will she be able to provide luxurious goodies to the locals, but she will also be able to provide other job opportunities that were not available to her.

“My ultimate dream, I want to open more stores, I definitely want to open more stores,” said Leonardi. “I want to create jobs, I want to create jobs that offer living wages and decent wages, I want to offer opportunities to other deaf people.”

As for the person who primarily inspires the company, Leonardi wants to teach her daughter that she can do anything that comes on her mind. “She is doing great. She is doing wonderfully. She’s helping me in the shop right now by labeling everything with price tags. “

Hotsy Totsy Haus celebrates its grand opening on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The new store is located at 10301 Comanche Rd NE, between Eubank and Juan Tabo.

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