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What I Bring to My Community: Celebrating Entrepreneurs With Down Syndrome

Mar 21, 2018 • 3 min read
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      Today is World Down Syndrome Day, a global awareness day which has been officially observed by the United Nations since 2012. Supported by Down Syndrome International, the day was created to help raise awareness about what Down syndrome is and how people with Down syndrome play a vital role in our lives and communities.

      This year’s campaign, What I Bring to My Community, aims to demonstrate the many ways that people with Down syndrome are valued and included as key contributors to society. Designed to empower those with Down syndrome to advocate for their rights and opportunities, the campaign highlights the ways that individuals with Down syndrome make meaningful contributions to workplaces, public and political life, schools, and more.

      Here at Lendio, we celebrate small business owners every day, and we champion their efforts by being a source of capital for growth as well as sharing their success stories. In honor of World Down Syndrome Day, we recognize three small business owners, each born with Down syndrome, who are breaking down barriers, overcoming obstacles, and succeeding in a big way.

      John’s Crazy Socks

      John has never been a “slave to fashion.” He always had a love for wearing awesome, unique socks that reflected his mood and personality. John’s Crazy Socks started in December of 2016 when John partnered with his dad, Mark, to “spread happiness through socks.” In their first month, they had about 450 orders and did about $13,000 in revenue. Then things took off. In March, they filled over 10,000 orders and did over $350,000 in revenue. After just four months of business, they had already outgrown their office space and needed to move. John and his father are passionate about the responsibility to give back. Five percent of their earnings go to the Special Olympics and other charities.

      Collettey’s Cookies

      Collette, a 27-year-old Boston native, has always loved to bake. After completing a LIFE program through Clemson University, Collette searched unsuccessfully for a job. She was always told that she was “not the right fit for the company.” After three years of searching, Collette became determined to not only succeed on her own, but to create opportunities for people with disabilities to succeed as well. Her business, Collettey’s Cookies, started as a hobby and has grown into a powerful tool for good. Collette and her business have been featured on CBS Nightly News, Good Morning America, Self magazine, Boston Food Journal, local universities, Canadian radio stations, POPSUGAR, and more. Collette’s goal is to grow her business throughout the country and employ thousands of people with disabilities.

      Sweet Heat Jam

      Nolan is a native Texan with a deep love for gardening and cooking. His family noticed his passions and talents early on. With their help, Nolan created and developed Sweet Heat Jam, a company that makes spicy-sweet jams in over 30 flavors for sale online and in grocery stores. Sweet Heat Jams has even been featured on NBC News. Nolan hired a team of other individuals with disabilities who help with everything from growing the ingredients to creating,  bottling, and shipping the product. Nolan views Sweet Heat as a ministry of love. He wants to provide others with the opportunity to learn and develop skills that they can take with them into the future.

      To find out more about how you can get involved in activities and campaigns taking place in your region, check out WDSD World Events. You can also reach out to key stakeholders including educators, employers, public authorities, and media to encourage them to provide opportunities for people with Down syndrome to make meaningful contributions in your community.

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