SPRING, Texas — It’s football season and here in Texas that means it’s mum season too. The treasured Texas tradition dates back to the 1930s. Through the years, the mums just keep getting bigger, flashier and more expensive.
One woman in Spring has been making the homecoming mums right out of her home for the past 30 years.
“This all got started when my daughter was a freshman in high school," Elizabeth Cleaver said. “I helped four little boys do their homecoming mums and then they brought their friends, and they brought their friends."
In the beginning, it was something she did for fun, but Cleaver quickly realized her knack for mum-making could be her next career.
“I was in sales, and it was my fun thing to do and I would take vacation at mum time and do so many orders," she said.
When she retired, she turned her game room into her craft room.
“I just go down the list and they tell me what they want; some get real detailed," Cleaver said.
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Mums have become a rite of passage for Texas high schoolers and the shopping starts early. Cleaver says some customers make appointments as early as February. Sometimes moms buy their daughter’s mums months before they even have a date.
The name mum comes from the flower Chrysanthemum. They’re decked out with ribbons, teddy bears and trinkets. Students wear them to homecoming, usually pinned on a dress. Some of Cleaver's custom creations, however, need some extra support.
“They probably weigh between 50 and 75 pounds, there’s one back there that’s pretty hefty," she said.
It wasn’t until a customer put her on social media that Cleaver became a star.
“I didn’t even know what Instagram was and she called me The Mum Queen. Well, that’s all it took," Cleaver said. The name took off and so did requests for her to teach her tricks.
“One of my best-selling items is the Liz twist," she said.
However, the thing she is most known for is bows on her mums.
“Probably this year our most expensive has been $1,300 but the average in here has been $450-$500."
The Mum Queen knows it’s not for everyone.
“Some people think they are outrageous, and they don’t want to pay that price," Cleaver said. “So, you are either into it – or you’re not. It’s just like you either own a Louis Vuitton or you go to Target and buy your purse."