Mother of 3 makes jewelry out of breast milk

Ann Marie Sharoupim has made over 15,000 jewelry pieces with her business “Mamma’s Liquid Love” by encapsulating one of the most priceless gifts a mother can give to her baby: breast milk.

“Breastfeeding is physically and mentally draining,” Sharoupim, a 35-year-old mother of three from Rutherford, shared with NJ Advance Media. “When moms get their piece, I’m often told, it’s their most prized possession. I’m so blessed to run a business that makes such special keepsakes.”

Sharoupim started her online jewelry business in 2016 and creates her unique keepsakes from her home. In 2015, Sharoupim had her second daughter, Gabriella, and was struggling to produce enough breast milk while also dealing with postpartum depression and anxiety.

“I had my first daughter, Rebecca, in 2013,” she said. “Motherhood changed my world. What I once thought was difficult, paled in comparison to nursing a child eight times a day and pumping for her 10 times a day to keep her alive.”

Asking for help, Sharoupim’s close friend gave her a two-week supply of breast milk, which not only provided her with some relief but inspired her to create a priceless gift.

“I constantly thought of how to repay her and by Christmas time of that year, I perfected a chemical formula that would be able to preserve breast milk,” Sharoupim said. “I gave her a necklace made from her son’s milk and she broke down and cried. She pushed me to start Mamma’s Liquid Love. I feel so fortunate to be able to turn my passion into a business.”

Sharoupim graduated from Rutgers University’s Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy in 2011 and worked as a full-time pharmacist for nearly 10 years before she focusing on her business fulltime. Utilizing her background in chemistry, Sharoupim said she was able to conduct various trials to successfully produce a chemical and mechanical process that solidifies breast milk.

Growing up, Sharoupim would make bead jewelry and enjoyed gifting her pieces to her friends and seeing their reactions. “There’s something so fulfilling about creating something that people find to be beautiful. That feeling I had as a child was reignited when I started Mamma’s Liquid Love,” Sharoupim said.

Sharoupim said being a working mom and starting a new business was no easy feat.

“I did not go full time with my business until 2020, so I was working my pharmacy job, taking care of two young children, and trying to run a business,” she said. “I was surviving on two-three hours of sleep a night. My family actually held an intervention to try to get me to close my business.”

By 2019, Sharoupim thought she might have to close down her business, but found someone to help her run it. “It was as if God was telling me, ‘You’re not done. You’re meant to do this,’” she said.

Sharoupim has sold over 15,000 jewelry pieces and has expanded her business to include creating unique pendants and gems out of clients’ breast milk, hair, placenta, ashes, umbilical cords, and even baby teeth.

“After producing breast milk pendants, I started experimenting with my placenta capsules,” she said. “Placenta capsules produced a beautiful amber color. I started getting more requests such as umbilical cords and hair. Women intend on purchasing just one piece, but it becomes their most prized possession. It symbolizes their hard work and their sacrifice.

“Over the years we’ve had more men order for their partners. It’s not only a beautiful gift but is also a symbol of appreciation. They get a lot of brownie points.”

Sharoupim received her first ashes request from a customer who had ordered a breast milk piece previously.

“She tragically lost her husband and asked if we could make her a keepsake with his ashes,” Sharoupim said. “She loved the piece we made years earlier and told me we were the only company she trusted with her husband’s ashes.”

Orders declined during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Sharoupim explained. “I took that time to remake my website, switch platforms, design and release 50 new items, and redesign my packaging,” she said. “Making those changes were game changers for my business. The second half of 2020 resulted in two times the sales of 2019. You have to learn to shift your mindset and not accept failure.”

Sharoupim donates a portion of her sales to the Littlest Lamb, a non-profit that helps provide food, shelter and education to hundreds of orphaned children in Egypt.

“Growing up, my parents always said ‘Money is important, but not for what it can buy, but for what it can do’,” she said, “I carried that with me throughout my life and charity is an integral part of my business. My mom was orphaned at the age of five, so Littlest Lamb is dear to my heart.”

In Egypt, adoption is illegal, leaving many children in dangerous situations, she said. Many orphans are physically and sexually abused, she explained. “We partnered with littlest lamb in 2021 and have raised (and) donated over $120,000 since,” she Sharoupim said. “Littlest lamb is expanding their property and are awaiting permits to build. My hope is for Mamma’s Liquid Love to fund their project and rescue over 100 orphans.

“We’ve also donated to several organizations surrounding infant loss. We create keepsakes for parents that have gone through the unimaginable loss of a child. I hope to do a lot more in the future.”

Please subscribe now and support the local journalism YOU rely on and trust.

Vashti Harris may be reached at [email protected].