The National Down Syndrome Congress estimates that one in every 700 U.S. children is born with this chromosomal genetic condition that can affect both cognitive and physical development. As they graduate from high school and enter the workforce, many people with Down syndrome become entrepreneurs intent on realizing their dreams of becoming professional artists, designers, fashion influencers, bakers, and spokespeople. Here are gift ideas for almost everyone on your shopping list so you can support these innovative small business owners with Down syndrome.
1. Snacks from a Small Business Owner with Down Syndrome
Suzy Sukalski started her small business Sunshine Suzy’s Super-Crunchy Corn Niblets in 2015, guided by this mission statement: “Nourish the Soul, Celebrate Abilities, Inspire Possibilities.” Sukalski has never let her Down syndrome diagnosis stop her; she balances her time between work as a farmer and restaurant hostess with motivational speaking as the CEO of her Minnesota-based snack food company.
2. Fitness Wear and Cosmetics Designed by an Athlete with Down Syndrome
Abigail Adams (aka, Abigail the Advocate) launched Shimma, her line of paisley-patterned athletic clothes and sparkly makeup products, after becoming the first woman with Down syndrome to complete a sanctioned sprint triathlon. Informed by the tagline “When you want to look your best, don’t just sparkle, Shimma,” Adams curates a selection of colorful swimsuits, sports bras, and leggings, as well as phone cases, watch bands, ethical/sustainable lip gloss, eyeshadow, and “Stardust Glitter.”
3. Dog Treats Made by a Chef with Down Syndrome
Inspired by her love for Rachael Ray’s cooking shows, Chef Allison Fogarty started her own freeze-dried dog treat company called Doggy Delights by Allison. Her small business grew so popular that Ray invited her onto the show to demonstrate her baking process. Ingredients are high-quality and human-grade, free of preservatives and dyes. Choose between Pumpkin, Peanut Butter, or Yogurt Berry Delights. Can’t decide? A combination bag lets your dog try all three. Fogarty also offers salmon training treats, grain-free treats, and blueberry-studded holiday treats. Purchase a bag for all your favorite canine friends or sign up for a monthly subscription.
4. Hawaiian Shirts and More from a Fashion Designer with Down Syndrome
In 2021, model and designer Nate Simon turned his affinity for Hawaiian shirts into an apparel company called 21 Pineapples Shirt Co. Shoppers can choose from a variety of exuberant button-up and polo shirts, as well as t-shirts, hats, and hoodies bearing Simon’s signature phrase, “Be a Good Human.” The company’s accessories page offers a wealth of stocking stuffers, from pineapple-shaped earrings and necklaces to wristbands, stickers, and phone cases. A monthly subscription box includes an exclusive t-shirt design and a mystery item.
5. Colorful Canvas Gifts Designed by an Artist with Down Syndrome
Dance Happy Designs represents a partnership between artist Julia Tyler who has Down syndrome, and her friends Emily Scott and Liv Helgesen. Tyler silkscreens her colorful geometric patterns onto canvas which are printed and sewn in limited runs. Shop online, or find products at Nordstrom, Madewell, and boutiques around the country. Choose from tote bags and cosmetic bags, canvas bins and planters, wall art, and pillows printed with the words “You belong here.” Need a stocking stuffer? Check out Dance Happy’s fabric pencil cases and coin purses.
6. All the Socks You Could Ever Want from a Pioneering Entrepreneur with Down Syndrome
John Lee Cronin adores multicolored socks with fun designs. He and his father launched John’s Crazy Socks; they donate five percent of their earnings to Special Olympics, and over half the people they employ have a “differing ability.” Choose from over 2,000 styles of socks for adults and children, from Christmas and Hanukkah socks to socks printed with images of Marvel or Looney Toons characters and Ted Lasso. Every package includes a thank you note from John. A monthly subscription box includes a pair of socks and candy. Cronin also offers face masks, stickers, and pet sweaters.
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