“We thought that starting an entrepreneurial group and having participants create their own unique products would enable clients of many skill levels and talents to be involved in a project that all of them could be proud of,” says Shay Remillard, JESPY’s SWEA (Social Wellness & Expressive Arts) Supervisor.

   As part of the JESPY Entrepreneurs group, clients have been making and selling baby gift and shower items and centerpieces with a particular focus on beautifully decorative, one-of-a kind diaper cakes and diaper cupcakes.

   Being part of the group gives clients the full experience of setting up and running a small business. The process includes creating products, developing merchandise, pricing, shipping, and learning marketing techniques.

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  “I enjoy participating in the group because it’s something new for me,” says JESPY client Amanda M. “It’s also interesting to learn different things.”

   The colorful gifts are available as cupcakes, as well as  1-, 2-, and 3-tiered cakes. For an additional cost, customers can customize their gift by selecting specific items such as toys, cloth lollipops, bibs, clothes, and plushies. The variety of themes to choose from is endless, with ideas that range from Disney and Sesame Street characters to animals, holidays, and sports. In addition to the diaper cakes and cupcakes, JESPY clients can decorate for an entire shower by creating baby shower centerpieces, baskets, washcloth lollipop bouquets, and favors.

   So why diaper cakes? “We went in this direction because we were gifted with a large amount of supplies that could be used as the base of our start-up,” explains Remillard. “We also thought that this business idea was something unique and under-utilized.”

   JESPY recently received a financial donation from the Jean Griswold Foundation that will go directly toward the JESPY Entrepreneur’s business. The organization, which has franchises throughout NJ and across the country, provides home care services (including personal care, companionship, and housekeeping) for the elderly, disabled, and anyone else who may need their services. “We chose JESPY because they do great work,” says Cecilia Greene, Director of Griswold Home Care in South Orange. “We have worked with JESPY clients in the past and love what the organization means to them.”

   JESPY clients meet every Saturday but are planning to add a weekday session. During meetings, they work on creating product and fulfilling orders, manage the sales and stocking needs, and plan for upcoming business endeavors. Most recently, they were excited to design and create two new themed 3-tier diaper cakes as well as work on company names and logo design.

   JESPY Entrepreneurs encourages independence, camaraderie, and teamwork, too. “They enjoy picking out themes and discussing design options. It’s rewarding for them to be able to create a customized piece that people use for such an important occasion,” says SWEA Assistant Supervisor Nicole Rambone. “Plus, they love being able to sell their products and see an appreciation for their work.” In addition, being part of JESPY Entrepreneurs is a great way for clients who do not have another type of paid employment to earn an income.

   “It’s also fun being creative and making someone else smile,” adds JESPY client Virginia F.

   For more information and to order baby gift and shower items, send an email to nrambone@jespy.org. Established in 1978, JESPY House serves 250 adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities ranging in age from 18 to 71.  For more information, log onto jespy.org.