Marking Time

A Dutchess County entrepreneur’s novelty alarm clocks ring our chimes

Fifteen years ago, Lorraine Festa was living through a phenomenon common among women in their mid- to late-20s. “My biological clock was ticking,” the Beacon resident ruefully admits. “I had never really cared about it before. But all of sudden, there it was. And all I wanted to do was throw out the battery, turn the hands back, or maybe hit the snooze button for a couple of years.” Her gut reaction prompted the proverbial light bulb to pop on in her head. “I had this idea of making a real biological clock,” she recalls. “I thought it would be funny for someone my age.”

Fast-forward to early last year, when Festa’s brainstorm — a tongue-in-check, working “biological” clock — debuted. The old-fashioned twin-bell alarm is decorated with a portrait of an anxious, nail-biting female (who, the dial dramatically tells us, is watching “the years speed by in horror”). “The standard clock numbers have been replaced with 25, 26, 27… then they blur into the mid-30s,” Festa laughs. Almost as amusing as the clock itself is its packaging — designed by another Beaconite, Kirsten Heincke — which features more of Red Hook illustrator Brad Hamann’s pop-art graphics. (We love the conversation balloons with caustic comments like “You know, you’re not getting any younger” and “You can’t tuck your 401K into bed at night.”) “It’s an all-Hudson Valley creation,” Festa points out.

Almost immediately, the clock was a hit on the novelty gift-show circuit. Festa formed her own company, called love • time • disco, and went to work dreaming up three other humorous timepieces (she dubs the items “Wake-Up Calls”). With tag lines like “You can’t party like a rock star forever,” the “Time to Grow Up” clock is more or less the male equivalent of the biological clock for women. Designed with harried moms in mind, the “Bedtime” clock “counts down in five-minute increments to the magic hour of 8 p.m. — bedtime!” says Festa. And the “Time to Come Out” version is a “fun and light-hearted” gift, she says, for anyone who’s been closeted for too long. “I tried to hit on common times in our lives that people can relate to,” says the clocks’ creator.

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Currently, some or all of Festa’s product line — besides the tick-tocks, she also sells cocktail napkins and magnets with the same designs — is available at about 50 retailers nationwide (locally, Suburban Groove in Bedford Hills carries her clocks). T-shirts, she says, should be ready later this year. “It’s tough to start a business in this climate,” Festa says. “I’m learning a whole new industry. It’s fun and frustrating, exhilarating and exhausting.”

Next up: a Wake-Up Call for the “Bushed Businesswoman,” perhaps?

Wake-Up Calls clocks ($15.99), cocktail napkins ($5), and fridge magnets ($4) can be purchased on-line at


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