Business Name and what it does:
Beloved Bath is a candle and bath product company that was founded by two moms determined to create opportunities for adults with autism. We have a mission of meaningful employment for people with autism. At Beloved Bath, “meaningful employment” is doing something that makes a person feel a sense of pride and accomplishment while earning money for their work. Meaningful employment is empowerment!
We have an online store and sell to a variety of retail stores across the United States. Before leasing studio and warehouse space, we were a home-based business. Our products include candles, soaps, bath salts, and body butters. About 40% of our online business is gifts that we ship directly to recipients. Sixty percent of our online orders go directly to the customer, although a good percentage is gifted to others. We also create and package corporate gift boxes for the holidays. These boxes are custom designed and hit a variety of price-points. Additionally, we create favors for corporate events, private functions, and other occasions. The favor business has connected us with a lot of corporate clients who like to give holiday gifts that come from a mission-based company.
Founder’s/Owner’s story and what motivated them to start the business:
Pam Kattouf and Pat Miller met on the playground over 20 years ago and bonded after their sons, Justin and John, were diagnosed with autism. They were both active in autism advocacy and worked on a number of autism related projects in their community. As their children were hitting the teen years, the women wanted to find fulfilling activities and endeavors that could lead to employment for their boys. They searched for opportunities but found very limited offerings. As luck would have it, they discovered that lavender soothed and calmed their boys. As a hobby, the women started to make self-care products with their sons. Justin and John enjoyed making the products, too. That enjoyment, coupled with knowledge that opportunities for adults with autism were scarce, was the catalyst for Beloved Bath. Pam and Pat wanted to create a community that would empower and employ people with autism and to build a place where the work was meaningful, enjoyable, and added value to the lives of their employees and the community. In 2017, with that goal in mind, Beloved Bath was formed.
Knowing the employment landscape for adults with autism, Pam and Pat worried about their sons’ futures. Research shows that 80% to 90% of individuals with autism over the age of 21 are either unemployed or underemployed. Part of Beloved Bath’s mission is to shift that paradigm. By creating a work model that is financially successful and embraces an often overlooked and underutilized talent pool, we hope to inspire others—in our community and nationwide—to help give workers the opportunities they need to contribute, to grow, and to thrive.
In addition to employment at Beloved Bath, we offer an internship program in partnership with accredited schools. During this internship, students with autism, alongside their teachers, learn both the soft and hard skills necessary to work a job. These skills include how to ask for help, learning to take breaks, completing tasks in exactly the way they were trained, and signing in and out of the workday. Developing these foundational skills allows students to be job-ready once they graduate, regardless of whether they work for Beloved Bath or another corporation. We are proud that several of our interns have graduated from school and now are employed by Beloved Bath.
It is more than a paycheck, a place to go, a job to do…Beloved Bath is about a community of individuals working together, forming friendships, and showing up for each other. It is magical…joyous…meaningful.
The challenges the business/market is facing:
Like so many businesses, we are experiencing supply chain issues that have forced us to be nimble and flexible. In the past, we were able to order component parts like wax, candle jars, and boxes as we needed or projected to need them in the short-term. To counter fluctuating availability of materials and unpredictable shipping schedules, we are now ordering in larger quantities and well in advance of our usual purchasing schedule. This saves us on cost-per-item, but also requires a bigger outlay of capital than we are used to. In addition, we are paying for more storage space because we are ordering more than before and a greater percentage of supplies are sitting until we need them. Inflation is forcing us to raise our prices. We have not seen a decline in sales, but we are keenly aware that our category of gift and self-care products is a luxury that comes after necessities have been met.
The opportunities the business/market is facing:
Our mission coupled with our high-quality products drive our sales. People want to make purchases that also support social causes. There are a lot of choices when it comes to candles and bath products. Customers feel good when they are able to choose a product that they can enjoy while knowing that they are giving back and helping other people. These opportunities are life-changing, as the current landscape for job-seeking adults with autism is so bleak. We want the market to embrace this cause and support the autism community by providing greater opportunities for this often-overlooked pool of workers.
Advice to others about business:
Our advice to other businesses is twofold.
First, be authentic. Think about the “why” and the “how” of your business. Be mindful not only of why you do what you do, but also how to do it in a way that elevates the lives of your customers and your employees. We like to communicate to our customers the tremendous impact they have on our employees, and we have found social media and marketing to be invaluable tools. Whether through Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, we can instantaneously share photos and stories, keeping our customers up-to-date and connected with the day-to-day successes of our employees. Email marketing is another fantastic way to keep customers engaged. In addition to being a valuable tool to help grow our business, it gives us another platform to highlight the work we do, to spotlight our employees, and to build a sense of community with our customers. Of course, high quality products and an emphasis on customer service are essential, too!
Our second piece of advice to other businesses is to create opportunities within your company for individuals with special needs. This very talented pool of workers is highly motivated to do a great job and they take extreme pride in their work. We have found that job-specific training is needed a little more in the beginning, during the orientation phase, however, the result is a very efficient, reliable, and hardworking employee. In addition to helping new employees transition smoothly into the job, it also educates the typical workforce on how to work with and integrate all employees so that all workers are successful. We hope that the strong financial model Beloved Bath has accomplished will motivate others and inspire business to open their doors to this dedicated and willing workforce. Let’s make meaningful employment a reality for them so they can be a contributing part of our communities and of society at large!