Inside an upstairs room at a West Linn home, the yellow walls lined with elegant designer purses, beads, buttons and blue butterflies, offer few clues that this room was once filled with the trappings of a little boy.
The children’s books and toys have been replaced by fashion spreads and patterns. The worn denim jeans have given way to fine leathers and fabrics.
But this was, and will always be, Max's room.
“It's my favorite room in the house," says Jayne Dearborn, Max’s mom. Max was Jayne’s middle son. “Max was an amazing gentle soul,” described Jayne, “he had big brown eyes and he was always happy.”
But in 2001, at the age of seven, Max got sick with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. In just a handful of months, he was gone.
“It’s something you can’t ever imagine, and you never think it will happen to you,” says Jayne.
After Max died, the void left behind was enormous. Jayne focused on family, and in an effort to heal started reconnecting with her creativity.
She eventually gave up her career as a dietician to become a designer. And finding it comforting, she set up shop in Max’s old bedroom.
“So this is where I started and I would make these small handbags out of silk and I sewed them myself,” explains Jayne.
Now, Jayne’s designs are so popular they are sold in more than 100 boutiques around the country.
The designer handbags carry the name JayneMax on the outside, and on the inside there is a little piece of Max. A small blue butterfly he drew for his Mom decorates each bag’s lining, along with butterflies drawn by other children with cancer.
“This is our signature lining and it’s part of our story,” says Jayne.
So is the Blue Butterfly campaign, a non- profit inspired by Max and his butterflies, to fund Leukemia research.
Jayne donates a portion of the profits from each purse. In just two years, the campaign has donated over $100,000 for research. Something his mom calls the silver lining to the story of a little boy gone too soon.
More info: Jaynemax.com