Temple piñata makers ship their in-demand creations across Texas and the US.
DAVID STONE | OUR TOWN TEMPLE
Pearl Hernandez’s first attempt at making a piñata was more than just a “hit” at a birthday party. That 2015 effort also launched a family business that is booming today.
“I had just got married and was still new to the family, and my husband’s niece was turning 6,” Pearl said earlier today. “I wanted to make a big impression. She had mentioned she wanted a piñata so I tried to find her one. We went to several stores, but I wasn’t impressed at the selection.”
Pearl decided she would make her own.
“I started Googling and watching YouTube videos, and I decided it might be doable,” she said. “I stuck with a simple design — a big round donut with pink frosting, sprinkles, eyeballs and shoes. It was very cute.”
The big pink donut was an immediate hit with the kids and family members.
“They wanted to know where it came from and after I told them I made it, the orders started rolling in.”
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Pearl grew up in Ennis but moved to Temple 10 years ago to be with her eventual husband, Juan.
“He is a welder, and when he gets home from the job, he goes to work making piñatas,” Pearl said. “Juan builds the frames from cardboard or paper mâché, and I cut all the paper by hand, do all my drawings by hand and attach the paper with a glue gun — my new best friend.”
“We use recycled cardboard we get from friends or other people who have moved — they’d rather donate their boxes to me than throw them away.”
Pearl said creating piñatas by hand is labor intensive — Juan often takes eight hours or longer to create the frame, and it takes Pearl almost as long to decorate the creations.
“We sell most of our piñatas through Facebook, and we don’t use a catalog as a guide for customers,” she said. “I just ask them what they want, then we design it. Some of the designs are pretty intense — there are many 2 a.m. nights at the Hernandez house. We try to do about eight piñatas per week.”
The business — Piñata Pearls — has provided hundreds of candy-stuffed creations over the years for birthdays, anniversaries, Cinco de Mayo, graduations and holiday parties.
“Yes, we’ve made hundreds,” Pearl said, “and they go everywhere. I just shipped one to Tucson, Arizona, and we’ve had recent orders from Alabama and Tennessee. They search on Facebook and find us, then they see our work and order.”
“I still have family and friends in the Ennis area, and it has spread by word of mouth up there,” she said. “I make at least two trips per month to Ennis, Corsicana and Waxahachie — usually I carry at least eight piñatas at a time. Sometimes I have to make more trips.”
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The piñatas range in size from about six inches to 3.5 feet in height or width, and they range in price from $15 to $150 or more.
“It all depends on the design and how much detail the customer wants,” Pearl said. “We ask what they envision, then make it.”
Oddly enough, the most sought-after piñata is the Buccee beaver. Pokemon, Mickey Mouse and NFL inspired piñatas also are popular.
“I’ve made logo piñatas for Temple, Belton and Harker Heights high schools — I even sent a dragon piñata to a school in San Benito.”
In addition to using colored paper, Pearl also applies a little makeup to her creations.
“I don’t use my good stuff, but older makeup,” she said. “It helps create shading and defines colors.”
While the Hernandez family operates Piñata Pearls from their home, that may not always be the case.
“I’d love to open a piñata store Downtown Temple,” she said. “And eventually we are going to need more help — more creative hands and minds.”