When Kylee Leonetti says her business is a cut above, she isn’t speaking just metaphorically. Leonetti Confetti makes artisan confetti, each piece of fluttering paper meticulously cut by hand and, borrowing a theme from snowflakes, no two pieces are alike.
Why, one may ask, do people need handmade confetti when manufactured machine-cut confetti is readily available? It’s a question she asked herself.
“I never thought people would need this or buy this,” she admits. It turns out that so many people have wanted to buy it that during wedding and graduation seasons, she employs as many as seven scissors-wielding assistants.
Leonetti Confetti — she jokes that with a name like Leonetti, she had to make either confetti or spaghetti — grew out of necessity. A photographer by trade, she wasn’t satisfied with the manufactured confetti she used for family photographs. It was flat, heavy and wouldn’t hang in the air very long. And when it was in the air, the pieces were so big they blocked the faces in the pictures.
So she started to experiment with homemade confetti.
“Much trial and error and two vacuum cleaners” later, she has developed her own unique product.
“I’ve been finessing the method for a decade,” she says. “I use a high-quality tissue paper — all recycled, by the way — that has a spring to it. It’s much more photogenic.”
Leonetti, who still works as a photographer and videographer, launched the confetti company out of her Minneapolis home four years ago. “I have a room full of confetti in cages,” she says. Although she and her husband, Christian Jensen, are partners in the business, she has claimed the title of chief confetti officer.
The company has drawn praise from the recovery community because it employs women in drug and alcohol rehab through an arrangement with Wayside Recovery Center in St. Louis Park.
“It’s a chance for them to get back on their feet,” says Leonetti, who has family members who have faced addiction. “It’s a very marginalized community with a lot of stigmas attached to it. It can be hard to get a job. Plus, it’s a very cathartic craft.”
She also has spun off an operation in which her employees hand-paint bags made in Nepal by women who have been victims of human trafficking.
Both the confetti and bags are sold online at leonetticonfetti.com.