NDEAM: Choose Disability-Owned Businesses

A High Unemployment Rate

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). Earlier this month – we showcased why this initiative exists, the many benefits of hiring someone with a disability, and encouraged readers to support disability-owned businesses and businesses with a reputation for hiring and maintaining employees with disabilities. You can read that article HERE

As mentioned in our previous blog, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently reported the unemployment rate for those with disabilities is currently TWICE as high as the unemployment rate for those without a disability [10.9% vs 5.0%]. Some reasons why the unemployment rate is so high for people in this demographic include: an individual’s disability restricting the type of work they are able to do which leads to less potential job opportunities, employers having misconceptions of people with disabilities instead of seeing the value in them, transportation, mobility issues, lack of a college degree, and a fear that if they do work – they will be mistreated by others in their workplace. The disability community needs to continue to work together to demand inclusive workplaces as well as openness by employers to provide the support and services to assist in success. Individuals with disabilities can also choose entrepreneurship. If they have a unique interest or talent they can consider opening their own business. This option allows them to showcase their own skillset, set their own schedule, and create an environment where some of the above issues do not exist. 

Find a Business Near You

Fresh AF Bakeshop in Kingston, NH is owned by Taryn Merrill. Taryn’s interest in baking began when she was a kid – and now she is proud to have her own bakeshop where she will soon be selling cookies, cakes, and other sweet treats on 34 Church St. in Kingston. One of Taryn’s goals with this business is to “help create jobs specifically for people who have a disability” Her brother Troy, who has autism, plays a major role in making Fresh AF Bakeshop possible. Troy looks forward to being a cashier at the bakeshop – something that he has experience doing at his job at Tuckaway Tavern (Raymond, NH) and allows him to showcase his skills. Taryn said that when Troy was in High School, those who worked at the school and were involved with job programs assumed he could only participate in janitorial tasks which she did not appreciate because it did not allow Troy to showcase what he is good at. “People of all abilities deserve to showcase their skill set and one shouldn’t assume the type of work someone can and cannot do. With this business, I want to create jobs for people that have special abilities and are trying to have meaningful employment.”

While Taryn is committed to hiring people with all abilities – she doesn’t want this initiative to be the main aspect of the business. She said, “hiring people who have a disability should not be considered charity – it should happen because people who have a disability have their own strengths and talents that need to be shown”. 

Stay up-to-date on all the happenings at Fresh AF Bakeshop by visiting their website, and following them on Facebook and Instagram.

[Colby Dudal, Digital Marketing Assistant with Taryn and Troy Merrill at Fresh AF Bakeshop]

If you are looking for someone to shred your files – consider Chloe’s Shred Shed in Mont Vernon, NH. This business is owned by Chloe Bertrand, who has autism. Jennifer Bertrand, Chloe’s mom said, “Chloe discovered creating work through entrepreneurship during the COVID-19 pandemic and it has been a powerful way for her to earn some income while offering a valuable service in the community.” You can learn more about Chloe’s Shred Shed by visiting the business Facebook page HERE.

Find a Business Anywhere

Believe it or not – the holiday season is quickly approaching! This means that you may be looking for gifts for your family, friends, and significant other. Consider purchasing a gift (or something for yourself) from these businesses that are all disability-owned:

John’s Crazy Socks – Socks with a Story – John Lee Cronin is a young man with Down syndrome who runs a business selling fun and colorful socks. Visit the website today to view the Halloween and Thanksgiving collections and so much more. 

Kayla Snover Studio – Kayla is an artist from the Boston area who creates artwork. On her business Facebook page she writes, “Art provides me a way of expressing myself and the beauty of the world around me!” 

Pretty Sick Supply – Owners SarahCate and Kris have disabilities. They enjoy selling products such as jewelry, accessories for wheelchairs, walkers, and crutches, stickers, mugs, pillows, and much more. The wide range of items is impressive!

Disabled AF – T-shirts, stickers, and sweatshirts are just a few of the items Michelle (who is both an activist for people with disabilities and an artist) sells in her online store. 

Two Blind Brothers – Bradford and Bryan Manning are two brothers who were both diagnosed with an eye condition when they were younger. The brothers now sell clothes, sunglasses, hats and other accessories on their website. 

Happy Dance Designs – Julia, Liv, and Emily are three friends who enjoy creating handbags, zipper bags, pillows and more! Julia has Down syndrome and together the three of them enjoy creating and selling products. 

HP Design – This business offers shirts, hoodies, tote bags, and promotes inclusiveness for people with Down syndrome. Nohea (who has Down syndrome) and her sister own this business and you may find a product you like in their online shop!

Snow Raven Designs – On this Etsy page, you will find bracelets, magnets, and other handmade items. Many of the items promote acceptance and inclusivity for those who have Down syndrome. 

The businesses listed above are just a few of the many businesses throughout America that are owned by someone with a disability. To find more businesses – search Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter by using the hashtags #disabilityownedbusiness or #disabilityowned. 

If you know of a disability-owned business, or an inclusive business in our area – email Colby Dudal at



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