SAN ANTONIO — Airman Nicole Pompei Zettlemoyer has experienced a whirlwind of life changes. Her small business, Wreaths by Nicole P, exploded in a good way after being interviewed on KENS 5 in December of 2020.
Her story about how she makes military wreaths went viral. National news outlets picked it up and soon she found herself having to create a waiting list that currently stands at 1,800+ orders.
The original inspiration to create something out of old uniforms came to Staff Sergeant Pompei Zettlemoyer when the military switched uniforms in 2020.
"I wanted to find something to do creatively with them," she said. "I was home on leave – and my mom helped me make one and I posted it on Facebook... The next thing I knew, I had people reaching out saying, 'Oh I want one' – and I thought, 'This could be a good little side hustle.'"
Earlier this year SSgt. Pompei Zettlemoyer's mother, who helped get her started and taught her how to craft the wreaths, passed away after battling cancer shortly after seeing her daughter get married. This year SSgt. Pompei Zettlemoyer bought her first home with her husband, a fellow musician in the Air Force Band of the West.
SSgt. Pompei Zettlemoyer said her patient customers mean everything to her.
"People send me pictures and letters... I get to hear so many stories and I've made some for Gold Star Families – and some that really hit you right in the feels," SSgt. Pompei Zettlemoyer said. "It's been really cool to be part of people's military journey to close them out with retirement gifts... I even got to make one for the highest-ranking enlisted person in the Air Force – (Chief Master Sgt. JoAnne S. Bass) Chief Bass – and I fangirled pretty hard on that one."
Outside of her business, SSgt. Pompei Zettlemoyer is an accomplished bassoonist in the military and competes in Olympic weightlifting. She recently returned from Denver where she competed on a national level.
Here's how to learn more about SSgt. Pompei Zettlemoyer's business: