Mission: To teach our son (and eventually other special needs children) the pride that comes through accomplishment and the value of work and reward.
What is KoolCharm?
Here at KoolCharm, we sell personalized Autism Awareness Jewelry. What makes us different is that we personalize our designs with the name(s) of loved ones. Each piece is custom-created for each order. We handcraft all of our jewelry in our home in New Jersey. Our product line includes pendants, bracelets mugs and t-shirts in a variety of designs.
Why did you feel that starting your own business was the answer?
We started with the idea of giving our son, Ian, a chance to learn work skills at home. Like most parents of a special needs teen, we were discussing where Ian might end up in the workplace and where he would best fit in. Since I am a graphic designer and my wife is crafty and an artist, we came up with an autism business idea that we can do and enjoy as a family.
Is this a business that just employs your child or do you also employ others with autism or special needs?
At the moment it’s just our family, but we have ideas to expand and grow. When that happens, we will employ as many special needs kids as we can. At the moment sales are increasing, so hopefully it won’t be too long!
What were some of the challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?
It took a lot of time to figure out our process. I thought it would be so much easier but it took more than 4 months to get our way of working down. (Actually, as I think back we almost gave up more than once!) First, we needed the right materials and where to source them, a quality printer (we went through many), special ink, and streamlining the process. What I described in the last sentence literally took hundreds of hours. To overcome these challenges we’d just press on and, thankfully, persevered.
What are 3 rewards you’ve experienced from starting a business?
Our first reward is watching Ian do his job—the packing, writing his personal note, and helping us to mail each order. This keeps him away from the electronics and more in our world. We are interacting with a purpose. It’s really priceless.
Another reward is watching our designs come to life after each piece is created, I never get tired of that.
A third worth mentioning is that we feel proud inside to have created something special that people now have all over the world. We receive emails and Instagram and Facebook comments from so many people telling us how much their KoolCharm means to them. That’s an amazing feeling.
Do you have a memorable moment you’d like to share?
A huge memorable moment was when we received our first sale. That felt so good, after all the hours and effort we spent on this autism business idea. The first sale was really special, and when we received feedback from the customer on how happy she was and how much the piece meant to her. That was just an incredible feeling. We felt confident that we actually had an idea that will benefit our son.
Tell us about any upcoming plans, new releases or exciting news!
We are always coming up with new designs! We just created a slider bracelet that we have been receiving wonderful feedback on, and we have plans in the works to expand in another direction that we’re very excited about.
What message would you like to give to other families who are searching for job opportunities for their autistic loved ones?
I’m big on inspiring others to never give up. Something is out there for your child. Put out that energy and it will come to you. If you’re entrepreneurial, put your thoughts and resources together and do all you can to come up with something and try it. I know someone who is doing amazing with organic soaps…there are definitely great ideas out there.
Discover more and order a custom KoolCharm:
If you liked this post, you may also like: