This post was written by David Drake, founder of Stay Smiling.
During my undergrad, I stumbled across a store that was run by individuals with developmental disabilities. I loved the concept as a way to teach life-skills to those with challenges. The participants were involved in a number of tasks from cleaning, to preparing products to social interaction. What made this program unique was its potential to generate income. Since my brother Chris has Down Syndrome, I was well aware of how expensive conventional methods of teaching these skills could be. I helped setup a similar storefront in my home-town where Chris now serves ice-cream and sells art.
Many of you probably don’t live near my brother. You can’t buy ice cream from him or buy his artwork. Fundamentally, a store has to be supported by the local community. An online platform has no limit on its reach. As I worked on this concept I realized the challenges faced by my brother and their support groups include: difficulties learning technology, managing social media, making products and shipping them. With my tech background I was able to quickly put together a platform that manages these needs so that his work can be translated into a number of products from prints to baby burp clothes and everything in between!
The current platform was launched in April and can be accessed here. It tells the story of our organization, provides a hub for information, promotes some sample works and allows you to purchase products that use our artists work. A key point to note is that our goal is to help our artists earn a living. This is why we offer an 80% guarantee. This is our promise that 80% of the profits from sales through the platform return to the artist who made the work.
We are actively looking to scale. If you are an organization that works with individuals with developmental disabilities or if you know an artist who could benefit from our work feel free to send us an email at email@example.com.
Check out some of the work by three artists from Stay Smiling.