Duluth Mother's Cosmetics Go Beyond Beautiful
Latasha Wilkes of Duluth and her cosmetics raise awareness for Kawasaki Disease and funds to obtain care for children with the disease.
As Latasha Wilkes put her two-year-old son Zion to bed one night two years ago, she never suspected that within hours a medical ordeal would challenge her family.
Zion went to sleep without showing any signs of illness. But the next morning, Latasha noticed he had a fever, and a rash had formed around his nose.
“The rash soon spread all over his body,” Latasha said. “And then he had cracked lips and bloodshot eyes. It all happened so fast.”
The Duluth family was living in another state at the time. Zion’s developing condition prompted multiple visits to nearby medical facilities in search of relief.
Her son’s health deteriorated, but doctors could offer no solid explanations. After searching online for a week, Latasha finally uncovered the culprit – Kawasaki Disease.
According to the Kawasaki Disease Foundation, the ailment spreads inflammation throughout the bodies of infants and younger children, eventually attacking their hearts. A clinical diagnosis is made based on tests and patient examinations.
“In six days he went from being a healthy child to being in a hospital, with doctors trying to determine if a disease had attacked his heart,” Latasha said.
In Zion’s case, doctors were able to reduce the inflammation before his heart was damaged. He continued to receive care for a few months following initial treatment, and now he has annual heart check-ups.
Experiencing how quickly Kawasaki Disease advanced and how little was known about the condition spurred Latasha to action. With her son’s health stabilized, she continued to develop online contacts with others facing the same situation as her family.
Families from the United States and abroad contacted Latasha seeking to compare notes on symptoms and treatment. Others reached out for help to obtain care for their children with the disease.
“I was fortunate to have healthcare for my son to pay for everything,” she said. “I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to be a parent, knowing that your child needs this care, and you cannot afford it. I wanted to be able to help these families get the care they need for their children.”
Latasha decided to use her skills to boost awareness of Kawasaki Disease and assist families in need. She manufactures and sells all-natural, mineral-based cosmetics – Minerals by Latasha Nicole – with a portion of proceeds going directly to families to help obtain medical treatment for their children with the disease.
Her cosmetics line includes foundation, eyeshadow, blush, bronzer, and lip gloss. She recently added vegan cosmetic brushes and jewelry.
“Women are wearing cosmetics every day, and they don’t know what is in them,” she said. “I knew women could wear these and be healthy. It would also help me spread awareness about Kawasaki Disease and raise money for the families affected by the disease.”
Latasha’s website – www.latashanicole.com – offers product purchasing options and information about Kawasaki Disease. Her online presence helps children with the disease receive the correct medical treatment, Latasha's husband Chris said.
“Our son's diagnosis was a hard time for us, we did not know what to expect,” he said. “My wife’s efforts to spread awareness have helped so many families get diagnosed. She is my favorite person.”
Latasha is working to acquire nonprofit status, which will enhance her ability to generate even more funds to help families. Her main goal remains to help those facing the uncertainty brought on by Kawasaki Disease.
January 26 is observed as Kawasaki Disease Awareness Day. Latasha's website includes symptoms of the disease and stories of families with children experiencing the disease.
Symptoms of Kawasaki disease include:
- Fever that lasts for five or more days
- Rash, often worse in the groin area
- Red bloodshot eyes, without drainage or crusting
- Bright red, swollen, cracked lips, “strawberry” tongue, which appears with shiny bright red spots after the top coating sloughs off
- Swollen hands and feet and redness of the palms and soles of the feet
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
“If it can happen to me, it could happen to anybody at all,” Latasha said. “If I can help save one child’s life, that’s all that matters – that’s priceless to me."