HOUSTON (FOX 26) - At Aspire Accessories, each gift is handcrafted with pride by artisans with autism.
"They make incredible jewelry and they sew beautiful wraps and they make things for the home," said Denise Hazen, founder of Aspire Accessories.
In 2011, Hazen, an art teacher at the time, discovered that her son Nick had an eye for detail. That’s when Aspire Accessories was born.
"You’ve got somebody who is creative and then you have somebody who can implement the design so it’s worked out really well,” explained Hazen.
Nick was diagnosed with autism when he was two years old.
"[Nick] was told that he would never be a participating member of society and that always stuck out to me,” added Hazen. "And now, I’ve proved them all wrong."
Hazen partnered with Wendy Dawson, a friend and the founder of Social Motion Skills, a non-profit organization helping children and young adults with intellectual differences learn social and life skills.
Aspire Accessories is now one of the organization’s work training programs. Other business partners include FedEx and Memorial Hermann Hospital.
Aspire Accessories has 22 artisans who have aged out of school programs. They work two-to-five days a week and are paid.
"They learn new skills every day and it’s really exciting to watch them progress and build their skills,” said Camille Boudreaux, a teacher.
"I love sewing," said Allie Klein, an artisan. "I had a sewing teacher in high school, so she taught me how to sew and I picked up right away. And now I’m doing it here."
Hazen and the artisans hope that people will look to Aspire Accessories for their holiday gift needs.
"If you buy from Aspire, it really is a purchase with a purpose," concluded Hazen. "It really is making the difference for somebody. It’s providing employment.”
The last day to get orders in time for the holidays is Dec. 11.