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Finishing touches


Sherie Holder-Olutayo

Finishing touches

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IMAGINE walking into a room where you immediately feel like you have been transported into a scene in a fairy tale, or maybe even one of your children’s favourite movies, where the colours and characters seem so real it’s as if they have come to life right before you and seem capable of leaping off the walls.
You can reach out and touch some of the animals perched aboard Noah’s ark or perhaps your more adventurous side might feel like climbing into a three-dimensional tree, or diving into glistening blue waters. If you think that scenario seems impossible, think again because that’s exactly what happens when you and, more importantly, a child step into one of the hand-painted children’s rooms done by Meredith Haynes and Lisa Stiebel.
This creative twosome make up Happy Faces, a business that more than lives up to its name when children see their creative prowess and the intricate finishing touches turn their rooms into a fantasy land.
While the kids and their parents may enjoy the finished product, Meredith and Lisa enjoy every stage of the room’s transformation, from the sketches that they initially show to parents, through to the finished product.
“One of the greatest things for us is hearing from the parents how much the kids love the rooms,” Meredith said.
While it’s amazing to see how two people from different backgrounds – Meredith, who does social media marketing, and Lisa, an architect – can find common ground and passion through painting murals.
“For some odd reason we have similar styles,” Meredith revealed.
“People often say how do two artists come together and blend your work so it doesn’t look like she did this wall and I did that wall. But it’s pretty seamless so you can’t tell who did what. The only thing is that as an architect I leave her with the houses.”
Their camaraderie was actually forged out of a friendship long before they ever decided to work together. Actually their decision to join forces happened by chance, although there was some hint of divine interference.
“Meredith did a programme with me called You’re Designed To Shine and during the first week you had to create a page that showed our dream, our passion…what we love to do,” said Lisa. “She’s marketing and social media and my profession is architecture, but our dream pages were so identical that afterwards I said maybe we should think of working together.”
That was the beginning. One of their first clients was the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
“The Optimists had asked Lisa to do the Paediatric Oncology Ward at the hospital and we teamed up on that,” Meredith said.
“That’s the room where kids who have cancer get chemotherapy,” Lisa said.  “Some of these kids are coming from other islands where they don’t have family and they have to sit down for hours feeling horrible in a grey room. So we totally transformed the space to someplace cheery where they have hope.”
“We got really good feedback from the children and the doctors,” Meredith added.
Though they had teamed up they were still doing work for charity and helping their friends who were having babies transform their nurseries.
Since the moment Happy Faces was born, they haven’t regretted a moment.
“When we used to do this for charity or for our friends’ nurseries, we thought we should make it into a buisiness,” Meredith said. “But at the end of the day it is art. When you’re doing something that’s your passion you just want to keep on doing it to the best standard you possibly can.”

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