What started as a way to make some extra money has grown into a successful full-time career for Debby Vordemesche.
Vordemesche started her singing telegram business nearly 29 years ago. As a frustrated singer/actress raising two children, she wanted a job that would provide an extra income and allow for flexibility. The solution was to start an in-home business. Twenty-nine years later, Vordemesche still runs Sweet Seren-Aides out of her home.
Making special occasions even more special is her business. Customers call on her for singing telegrams for birthdays, proposals and other good news.
But it’s the behind the scenes work that consumes most of her time.
“I am a one-woman show,” she says. “I answer the phone, describe the characters available, schedule the telegram and personally deliver it to the recipient.”
These characters include the Super Singing Chicken, “Flossie” the French Floozy and “Happy” the Happy Heart.
Vordemesche says she has learned a few lessons along the way. For starters, the business model has changed over the years. At first she offered 22 characters and employed a large talent pool. However, though customer feedback she found that people were upset when they weren’t getting the same Super Singing Chicken or Flossie the Floozy they had seen at another party.
A turning point came when she decided to scale down her work force and provide a more consistent product.
“I decided to do all the characters myself and give the customers what they wanted,” she says. “I had established the characters and the skits, so I should be the one to present them.”
Looking back, Vordemesche says her job has been anything but dull over the years. A few standout memories include being voted Cincinnati Magazine’s ”Best of Cincinnati.”
She also has had her share of celebrity encounters, such as singing to boy band heart throb Nick Lachey as a surprise telegram.
Romance is in the air when she sings to girlfriends as a marriage proposal in the chicken costume. The women are floored when she “lays” an egg with a diamond ring in it.
Vordemesche says her work is gratifying because the rewards are “double-sided.”
“I bring smiles and laughter to everyone that I meet while in costume,” she says. “The people make me smile because I know that I’ve made them happy for at least a few minutes of their challenging day.”
As with any job, Vordemesche says that she has faced her share of obstacles. On two separate occasions, an appendicitis attack and a shoulder injury threw a wrench in her routine. But the show must go on. In the case of the broken shoulder, she found a way to “wing it” – literally.
“I didn’t miss very many telegrams because I wore my chicken costume with a navy blue sling and told everyone that I had my wing clipped,” she says.
Photos: Amy Storer-Scalia
Model: Debby Vordemesche