You may have caught on that our goal is to get to a point of creating opportunities for young adults and others with special needs to enter and participate in the workplace. To that end we’ve purposely chosen not to automate or outsource tasks that could be accomplished by people with special needs and that would allow us to develop a special needs workforce.
Before that happens we have to sell soap, and before we can sell soap we have to put it in boxes, and like Alan says, “soap doesn’t box itself”.
Some of those boxes go into other boxes, and some go into baskets. It’s true that Alan actually does box soap and build baskets. Of course he doesn’t do all of it, but he does do it all.
Alan begins his boxing process by lining up 120 empty soap boxes into which he places stories about the soap, sometimes speeding the process by using both hands. After the cards comes the soap, and after that, closing the box. Folding the box tabs with Alan’s skinny long fingers isn’t as easy as one might think, but it gets easier with practice and repetition builds skill.
Not all boxes go on the shelf to be sold individually or in gift baskets. Others are packaged in counter displays for retail locations. If you know of a local grocer, pharmacy / drug store, or other mercantile in your area where you think Alan’s soaps would be a good fit, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org, and if they become an Alan’s Artisan Soap Co. retailer Alan will send you a gift basket!
With a little help Alan makes baskets, too. In the center photo below the “little help” is his brother, Ian, behind Alan (and not a third arm). Once Alan has all of the pieces at hand, he’s on his own with assembly. Baskets are made-to-order and each order comes with its own packing list.
Alan checks to be sure that he has each of the items required before assembling a basket. In these pictures Alan is assembling a basket order for his friend, Miss Maria. After getting a little help with shrink wrap, Alan puts the basket in the shipping box surrounding it with air pillows from his own air pillow machine.
We’re just getting started. As we progress and can expand into a more suitable workspace, and increase our volume to sustain a team, we’ll be work with public and private agencies with Independent Living and Supported Employment programs to help fulfill our goal of creating a predominately special needs workforce.