Blue Ridge Bags and More: An Autism Business

Blue Ridge Bags and More is a small business, owned by the Autism Society of North Carolina, which employs adults with autism. As part of my job at the Autism Society, I am the official director of Blue Ridge Bags, which is how I know that we need some serious help! See, we have a really cool business, that is actually useful for folks (with and without autism), but nobody knows about us!

We have two parts to our business, and sadly, neither of them is making any money, so I’d like to appeal to you, dear readers, to help me spread the word about Blue Ridge Bags, in the hopes that we can boost sales.

What We Do at Blue Ridge Bags

Our adults with autism assemble TEACCH Home Teaching Kits, which are actually pretty sweet. I have seen a lot of gimmicky autism products in my 10 years in the field, and I can safely say that Home Teaching Kits are useful. They consist of a collection of tasks for a person with autism to do (usually sitting at a table), and an instructional video of how to run the tasks as a parent or helper. The coolest part about them is that parents or helpers who use Home Teaching Kits will actually learn to run any kind of task, and possibly invent their own tasks.

The people with autism who work for us also produce art, which we heat transfer onto canvas bags, mouse pads, cards etc. This part is so fun for all of us. We get to set up environments that are inspiring to the artists (nice lighting, spinney things, photos of their favorite stuff on the walls), and offer a variety of supplies, and then see what happens. Each artist decides if they want to donate their art to the business, or if they want a percentage of profit.

How You Can Help

Right now, we employ people with autism who have job coaches (publicly funded), who help them manage their time, take breaks when they need to, and organize their workload. Our accounting and marketing is done out of the state office of the Autism Society of NC, but I would like to hire people on the spectrum to do those jobs for our business. In fact, I would prefer that someone with autism ran the business, but we don’t have money to pay for any of that. SO. If you would like to buy teaching kits, or art, NOW IS THE TIME! If you have any great ideas for helping Blue Ridge Bags, please be in touch!

In order to increase our revenue, we are also offering our services in bulk mailings, or other such office-type tasks. Please email me svanmeerten@autismsociety-nc.org!

3 Comments

  1. Tina Brooks October 14, 2009 8:36 am  Reply

    Just a thought, but perhaps taking the leap and hiring someone on the spectrum to run the company outside of the organization would give it the distance it requires to be considered a true business rather than simply a fund-raising project for Autism Society of NC.

    You might want to consider finding local businesses who are upgrading to reuseable shopping bags and screen their logos on the reverse side of the bag. We are doing such a project with a local organization.

    Good luck with getting your name out there.

    @Pepperfire

  2. christen October 14, 2009 8:41 am  Reply

    I was wondering where does BRB&M sell their merchandise?

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