Carolyn Sampson has always loved to bake, and now she is turning her passion into a career by opening her own bakery, Reason to Bake, a gluten-free cookie startup in the mountains of North Carolina, along with her mother Elise.
Carolyn’s family have never let the fact that she has Down’s Syndrome stop her from achieving her dreams. “In our hearts, we believed she was capable of learning a profession, not just an entry-level job,” Elise Sampson, Carolyn’s mother, told The Mighty. However, the family weren’t sure what that profession would be. That is, until Carolyn, now 21, announced she wanted to be a baker.
Elise and Carolyn started researching gluten-free baking, as many individuals with Down’s syndrome have gluten sensitivity. “We couldn’t find anything on the market that met our standards for taste and freshness,” Elise said. “It was a need that wasn’t being addressed in our area.”
And after doing their research, the mother and daughter team decided to take the plunge.
“I literally had a series of dreams where God spoke to me about listening to what Carolyn was saying, and that we were going to build a business that would provide not only an opportunity for Carolyn, but for many like her,” Elise said.
So they secured the use of a local coffee shop’s kitchen after opening hours, set up shop at a farmer’s market and contacted a business advisor to help kick their project off the ground.
And soon after, Reason to Bake was born. Their cookies come in three delicious flavours — spicy ginger, chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin — and are now sold at an impressive 13 retaillocations in western North Carolina.
But the mother-daughter duo are not stopping here, as they have big plans for the company’s future. After celebrating the company’s three-year anniversary in August, they plan to launch a crowdfunding campaign in Septemberto raise money for new shipping-friendly packaging, and for a new commercial convection oven. They also hope to open an e-commerce store soon to sell their baked goods online.
The bakery has proved a transformative experience for Carolyn — who, according to her mother, has picked up interpersonal skills, a stronger work ethic and a sense of pride in the cookies — and she and her mom hope to extend that same opportunity to other young adults with disabilities.
“I would rather challenge Carolyn to [achieve] great feats, even if she doesn’t quite make it, than tell her she can’t do something,” Elise said. “She will still be farther ahead than if she did nothing.”
Source: The Mighty.