The audacity, right? While we're wondering how to pay our mortgage, or keep our job, or tell Mom we can't fly home for the holidays, LindaJoy Rose is selling fairy dust.
And that's just for starters.
There are potions and mists that will boost your karma and chase away the bogeyman. There are investors. There is talk of franchise stores.
Business is booming, says Rose, 55, perhaps because "people are looking for something whimsical right now."
• • •
Rose's story begins in southern California. Remember when California was so new-age, when any idea, no matter how outlandish, could be spun into a trend?
Rose lived there, studied Jungian psychology and worked as a hypnotherapist. Her career took her to Japan, where she trained other therapists, and with all that travel she acquired a taste for aromatherapy.
During one bleak period in her life, she volunteered at a preschool. She became fascinated with children's night fears and traumas.
"I thought, what if I could get into their psyches in a very whimsical way," she says.
So she mixed lavender, tangerine and jasmine essence with flour, added a little mica to make it sparkle. She poured it onto a feathered wand and sprinkled it over the children and their bedding.
Instant fairy dust.
• • •
Four years ago Rose and her husband relocated to Tampa, wanting to live closer to her father-in-law. She has never had children. Sometimes she wonders if she was destined to serve other people's kids instead.
Her Fairy Line enterprise rolls
out more than 150 products, from oils and ointments that help kids concentrate on homework (or so they say) to tea sets, costumes, even some naughty items for adults.
There are books and stickers and inspirational cards, featuring a cast of characters entirely of Rose's invention. Girls clubs preach social responsibility and self-empowerment, and she has formed a nonprofit foundation to take her messages into lower-income communities.
Everything is "fairy-tastic" and "fair-apeutic" in Rose's lexicon. She calls her employees "fairies in training." There is a marketing fairy and, this being 2009, a social media fairy.
She has a kiosk in International Plaza. She used to be in more malls, but had trouble with shoppers who confused what she does with the occult.
Hers is not religion, she tells anyone who will listen.
"We want people to follow their hearts," she says. "But people don't know what their hearts really are any more. "
Do fairies really exist?
Rose says they do, although probably in another dimension. She talks about life force and guardian angels and things being interconnected.
Drawing on Jung, she describes a collective unconsciousness that allows individuals to do pretty much anything, if they can unlock the personality, or muse, that she has personified as the fairy. "It's that element of magic inside us that wants expression," she says.
In addition to this kind of self-actualization, she said, the fairy concept is a way to help kids hold onto their innocence in a world that has them idolizing musicians and athletes who invariably fall from grace.
You might find it hard to read her materials, with their pink pictures, syrupy content and claims of magic, without rolling your eyes.
But look at it this way: Our sons spend a fortune on video games that simulate war, right? Athletes become millionaires by chugging sports drinks. My T-Mobile bill could feed a village.
Now consider the $15 retail price for a bottle of Fairy's Breath Anti-Monster mist, which a small child sprays where he thinks the monster dwells; or Drama Queen Diffusing mist, which a preteen inhales for calm and focus.
It smells good. The ingredients have biological effects, Rose says. And even the act of using them could provide comfort.
"Power of suggestion is your first line of effectivity," Rose says. "Then you have the concept of giving your child a coping tool."
Despite the recession, or perhaps because of it, Rose says her products are selling briskly, with sales in recent months about double what they were last year.
She's not alone. Her Washington-based competitor, efairies.com, announced recently that its sales are up by 12 percent.
"People want to feel better," Rose says.
I'm almost sold until she tells me the potions and homilies will work on adults, too. You know, the rest of us, playing by the rules and losing anyway, grinding through days bereft of magic.
"Most people don't have 20 minutes a day to meditate," she says as I prepare to rush off to my next appointment. "Just look at your schedule.
"But everybody can sit down, perhaps, and they can do a Bahari balancing breath, or an Isabella over-the-rainbow technique, or they can hug a tree and connect to Esmeralda, who's the nature fairy."
Sorry, Dr. Rose, that last eye roll was involuntary.
Marlene Sokol can be reached at (813) 909-4602 or email@example.com.