We were featured in our town in their Humans of Manchester segment. Here is what the feature was:
With no background or training as an entrepreneur, Susan took a long time (and used lots of scraps of paper) as she pieced together the plan that led to the launch, last summer, of her online business -- selling apparel and other products (pendants, wristbands, bags etc.) that share the theme of autism. Her lack of experience, though, was offset by an incentive best captured by words on the company website: “People become more passionate about a cause once it hits close to home.” Yes, two of Susan and husband Damian’s four children are on the autism spectrum, giving her insights that inform her fledgling business and make her work especially meaningful. Born in Jamaica, Susan was 11 when she came with her family to Connecticut. She graduated from East Hartford High in ‘97 and has degrees in biology from ECSU (bachelors) and St. Joseph’s (masters) and has worked as an environmental chemist and polysomnographer (aka sleep tech). Along the way she moved to Manchester and had Damian Jr., who at age 2 began to inexplicably regress -- suddenly becoming overly sensitive to noise, prone to misbehavior and more. “It was difficult at first and hard to live with,” Susan said. “You just want to blame yourself.” So began a journey that only the parents of children with autism can fully understand, into a world of testing and day trips (to CCMC and UConn for consultations) and even new vocabulary and abbreviations (ADD, IEP) and terminology. Young Damian is now 15 and a sophomore at Cheney Tech, where he needs minimal support and accommodations but Davahr, who is 12 and in seventh grade at Illing, is non-verbal and thus much more dependent on adults and interventions. Finally, third child Dahkari is 3 years old and in pre-school and exhibiting no signs of autism. As for the business, Susan said “I felt moved to do something” as she observed the challenges that children with autism can face, and her products reflect her feelings. “Autism Can Be Complicated. Try A Different Approach” reads one T-shirt that’s for sale. NOTE: Read more and find website link on our FB page.