Thursday, June 6, 2019

Our Story

My name is Missy Smith. I have worked with special needs students for almost 7 years. Tyler Coppock and I work in local high schools with special needs students in Shelby County, AL. It is pretty obvious that we love what we do. And how could we not? These students are the most amazing people to work with. We feel so strongly about it that we want to start a business with them.

About a year ago Tyler told me a dream of his was to start a restaurant and name it Three21. As a college student, he worked with the Down Syndrome population and loved how they were just who they were - no pretense, no fanfare. They were funny, genuine, caring and audacious. The idea was to make a place where all people with special needs could work and find what they needed to be successful. That means breaks when they are needed, as well as help with behavioral and medical issues. There are not many businesses that can employ some populations of special needs people because of these needs. He wanted a place that would. It would be a place where Autistic, Cerebral Palsy, any person with special needs could find a place to work and earn a wage. When he told me, I totally agreed. I had also noticed a problem when our students were aging out of the school system. There is not always a place for them to go once they age out of the public school system. 

I was reading some news online when I saw a cafe' opened for students with special needs. It was housed at a local farmers market in California. I immediately saw a place we could give Tyler's dream a shot. My church helped with a local farmers market and I immediately saw it would be a great place to start this project. So we signed up to be vendors at Valleydale Farmers Market, spread the word and were connected with a local company called Non-Fiction Coffee Co. Lisa Herron, the CEO and owner, immediately gave us advice and guidance as well as offering up her supplies and coffee to get us started. 

We had a venue, we had a product and we were well on our way! We opened on May 25, 2019. We serve cold brewed iced coffee, lemonade, tea, bottled water and sodas for people to sip as they shop at the farmers market. Two weekends in and we have been incredibly successful. The community has supported us and we have managed to pay our students as well as clear enough to put toward more supplies. We are now working on growing our business. We truly want it to become a full-time place where our students will come to work. There are infinite possibilities.

The coffee provided by Non-Fiction Coffee Co. is truly amazing. We serve the Peru blend for our cold brewed iced coffee and it is truly a special experience everyone should try at least once. We will also start offering the coffee for our farmers markets patrons to take home. 

Our hearts overflow with how God has blessed each step of the way and how people have rallied around these efforts. Our students are getting one on one experience, strengthening their communication skills as well as job skills, such as making change. Eventually we will show them how to set up, how to make the cold brew coffee and how to take down the tents at the farmers market. It really is all so very exciting! 

We encourage you to come out and visit us at Valleydale Farmers Market - Saturdays (weather allowing) at 4601 Valleydale Road from 8:00 - Noon. 

We look forward to seeing you!