By Nathan H., Student in Quest Kids Academy's Work-Study Program
Hi everyone! I’m Nathan! My role in Blossom is to be a lead task trainer. I’m the person who trains others to do tasks I already know how to do! These tasks include: wrapping soaps, labeling products, taking inventory, and selling products at events! This is a lot of work, but it’s fun! I’m proud to be a part of Blossom, a special organization created by Quest, Inc., that helps people with special needs find jobs.
A few weeks ago, my mom and I did a fundraiser on Facebook to help Quest, Inc. and Blossom raise money. We asked our friends and family to donate. It’s important for us to do everything we can to help during COVID-19.
To help boost our product sales, my mom and I are advertising through Facebook and Instagram. We are also spreading the word about our favorite products, like the coffee vanilla candle. One day, we had almost $500 in sales!
It’s been fun working from home with my mom. I’ve been attending Zoom meetings and writing blogs like this one.
Even though times are rough right now, there is always hope. My hope is that we can get things normal and be like a family again.
We hope this finds you and your family healthy and safe as you deal with the disruptions that COVID-19 has brought to all of our lives. We’d like to provide you with an update on Blossom and Quest, Inc., our umbrella organization.
Blossom has been significantly impacted during this pandemic. Due to governmental recommendations and for the safety of our team, Quest has indefinitely closed the training center in Orlando where Blossom products are produced. Although we are able to fulfill orders from our available inventory, we are not currently creating new products.
This is heartbreaking for the individuals on the Blossom team as they are not receiving a paycheck during this time, hindering their road to independence. They are also missing out on the daily camaraderie and meaningful activity that came with crafting, packaging and shipping our products. One of our Blossom team members, Nathan, recently appeared in a Spectrum 13 news story explaining how he misses the team.
The COVID-19 crisis has also wreaked havoc on Quest's finances and operations as a whole. We have had to shutter six year-round services that brought in $5-6 million in annual revenue for the organization and we've furloughed over 100 of our staff. These closures included our training centers in Apopka and Tampa, where individuals learn meaningful work and life skills, as well as Quest Kids Therapy, which provides ABA therapy for children with autism and other developmental disabilities.
For ongoing updates on COVID-19 impacts to Quest operations, please visit our COVID-19 Updates page.
Remember, the sun always shines after a storm. We look forward to when our team can safely go back to crafting all our artisanal products and continue adding to the amazing skillset they started building. Thank you for your ongoing support that has brought so much opportunity and meaning to the lives of our team.
Blossom is led by a handful of people who have helped grow this social venture from the very beginning. One of these people is Rob, Vice President of Client Advancement & Skill Development at Quest, Inc.
At Blossom, Rob creates work opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities. He is part of the production team who manages the creation of our products and quality assurance. There are aspects in both of Rob’s roles that tie together. “There are some aspects that I think are transferrable: the focus of ensuring everyone enjoys their experience being essential to everyone doing their best within their role; the culture of allowing experiential learning to occur through trying things differently, new or uncomfortable. Blossom is a very good example of this mindset and has been fun to watch,” Rob said.
Since Blossom’s launch, Rob has seen individual growth of our crafters. When given an opportunity, they take it and thrive. Team member, Dylan, was able to launch his greeting card line with the help of Blossom. Eight team members are now fully employed by Blossom. An additional four to six team members assist in part-time capacities, including at local events. Rob’s favorite part of working with Blossom is attending these local events to see our sales team in action and the response of our customers when they learn about our products.
Rob has a positive outlook for the future of employment of people with developmental disabilities. “I hope there is a continuum that ensures all abilities are given access to work,” said Rob. “Many individuals need significant support to be able to learn the pre-requisite skills necessary to be a productive, effective contributor to a work process or business… If someone has the fundamental desire to work, a variety of options are available for that person to achieve that goal based on where they currently are and where they want to go.”
We appreciate Rob and everything he does for Blossom!
Our team is made up of diverse people with positive, can-do attitudes. Leidalyd has been a member at Quest’s training center in Orlando for two years. Working at Blossom has opened up a world of opportunities for her and the rest of her peers.
Leidalyd helps make our candles and body balms. Her favorite candle scent is Coffee Vanilla. Leidalyd‘s favorite part of the week is when it’s her turn to be Radio DJ inside the production room! Every Monday is her special day to choose the music for the whole Blossom team to listen to while they craft our artisanal products. Her favorite band is Green Day!
Not only is she an expert music-picker, she loves to dance and smile at work. The sense of freedom and ability to earn her own paycheck is what she enjoys most about working at Blossom. “Blossom makes me happy,” she said.
The Blossom team is always on the lookout for ways to get involved in local events where we can exhibit our products. We encourage all of our team members to participate in these exhibitions so they may practice their skills out in the community. Nathan, a Blossom team member and student at Quest Kids Academy, has worked at our booths at these events. Recently, he spent a Saturday afternoon at our booth at the Orlando Wine Festival at ICON Park.
By working at these events, Nathan is able to interact with customers face-to-face and use his skills that he has worked on at Quest Kids Academy. This school is one of the few accredited McKay providers in Central Florida. Taught by Board Certified Behavior Analysts, students learn academic, communication, social, leisure and practical skills to promote a greater independence.
Nathan had one goal at this event – to earn over $1,000 in sales. He was able to exceed his goal with a grand total of $1,245.19 in sales! Thanks to Nathan’s hard work, this is our most successful single day sales event so far!
Learn more about Quest Kids Academy by clicking here.
We’re always looking for ways to grow awareness in our community. Local business, East End Market, has been a supportive partner in helping to share our mission with Orlando residents. We have been fortunate to be able to participate as a vendor at their monthly Evening Exchange events. This past Sunday, February 9th, we exhibited at one of their first pop up shopping events!
With the help from Blossom team members Mark, Nathan and Mendy, we were able to share our mission with shoppers… and we had success in sales! This mighty team of three spent the beautiful sunny day in the fresh air ready to show-off our new products!
This event was the perfect opportunity to showcase our Valentine’s Day Gift Baskets as well as Dylan’s Greeting Cards. This hand-drawn line of greeting cards is owned and designed by Dylan, a Blossom team member and Quest Kids Academy student!
Nathan is also a student at Quest Kids Academy where he is part of the Work Study Program that allows him to work as a crafter for Blossom. Nathan has been attending Quest Kids Academy since 2012. A big part of Nathan’s success in the program is the time invested by his mother Mendy. She is constantly reinforcing the behavior techniques learned in the classroom and therapy sessions in their everyday life. These Blossom pop-up events allow them to practice those techniques together in a real-world setting!
We’re excited to participate in future events at East End Market. Find out where you can #shopblossom next by following our announcements on Facebook and Instagram!
At Blossom, we encourage creativity at all levels. We want our team members to feel comfortable expressing themselves through their work and beyond! We are proud to introduce a special hand-drawn card line, Dylan’s Greeting Cards, by Blossom team member, Dylan!
His card line contains his own artwork to fit every major holiday and special occasions. Through his creative mind, he is able to hand-draw just about any design imaginable!
“I like doing my cards! People think that my cards are beautiful. I can add more colors to make them colorful. I’m coming up with more artwork that I can do. I’m being more creative when I make my cards. I feel proud of myself when I make them!” Dylan said.
As a student at Quest Kids Academy, Dylan’s teachers noticed his artistic talent straight away. One of his teachers, Frances, shares that story. “Six years ago, at the end of Dylan’s first day at Quest Kids Academy, I’ll never forget how each of his teachers brought a sample of his art to our staff meeting. We all said the same thing, 'Have you seen this kid draw?' When talking about Dylan’s future, we wondered if he could have a card line on Etsy. Now, he has a card line for Blossom. The completion of this project speaks directly to Quest’s mission. Great talent lives within all the individuals we serve. It’s our job to find it, cultivate it and encourage it. I’m so proud to work for an organization that makes dreams come true.”
Watch this video to see Dylan’s reaction when he first learned that his cards were live on our website! Proceeds from every card order will go back to this aspiring artist. Shop Dylan’s Valentine’s Day cards here. Be on the look-out for new designs coming very soon!
Our team members are all essential to our success. We are impressed with the work ethic they possess and the general interest they show in learning new skills. Mario is no exception!
Mario has been a member at Quest, Inc.’s training center in Orlando for four years now. Here, he is our expert soap wrapper, where he carefully wraps each aloe vera and goat’s milk soap in their eco-friendly packaging. Mario also takes part in the creation of Blossom soaps and candles, but he likes wrapping the soap the most. His favorite Blossom scent is crowd favorite, Coffee Vanilla.
In Mario’s eyes, the best part about coming to work is the fact that he gets to work with his friends and receive a paycheck. He wants everyone to know that “Blossom is a really good place to work”. We’re happy you think so, Mario!
We are certainly honored to have a person like Mario on our team!
At Blossom, we are forward-thinkers. When we come up with a new product, we always have our crafters in mind. Blossom team member, Mark, is Vice President of New Ventures and I.D.E.As at Quest, Inc. He recently joined Rally Social Enterprise Accelerator, a social enterprise mentorship group, whose mission is “to help entrepreneurs transform their ideas and existing work into sustainable ventures that create positive social change.” Blossom is a venture for which we know can benefit from this excellent group of professionals.
Earlier this week, Mark hosted a tour at Quest’s training center in Orlando for three Rally mentors; Shawn Seipler — CEO of Clean the World, Chris Helfrich — Principal at DDC Construct and Jeff De Zort — Senior Project Manager at CESO Inc. They learned about the services the individuals with developmental disabilities receive and the overall impact Quest has in the Central Florida community. They also toured Blossom’s newly renovated production room!
With the help and expertise from Rally’s members, Blossom will grow even more innovative within the Central Florida community and continue to change the lives of the individuals on our team.
Mark will implement what he learns during his time with Rally into Blossom. With Mark’s skills and knowledge from Rally, we know Blossom is in good hands for the future. Learn more about Rally by visiting www.RallySea.com.
Our production facility at Quest, Inc.’s training center in Orlando has recently undergone a makeover! This has been an ongoing project for the past few months, and the Blossom team is excited to finally work in the newly-renovated space! Some team members generously spent the last few days of 2019 putting the finishing touches in our newly-designed production room, and we are thrilled with the results!
As a business with unique needs, we do our best to accommodate our team’s varying challenges. This is why we took the liberty to make these changes so that all of our team members can have a more accessible work space.
The production room used to be Quest’s art room as seen in the picture below.
What we had done…
Floors stripped and waxed for an added shine
Electricity installed with separate outlets for our new equipment
Added artwork and décor to the walls
Added new tables for bigger work stations
Set up a computer area for easy order fulfilling
Organized three new work stations: Production, Fulfillment and Packaging
Team member Crystal has witnessed how the renovation has helped our team members with their workflow. “Our individuals now have easy access to the ingredients and supplies they need without any assistance. They all think they space is great!”
The Blossom crew is loving the production room transformation! We can’t wait to utilize the new space for the rest of 2020!
At Blossom, we care about the Earth’s health. Our team continuously looks for new ways to reduce our impact on the environment. We use eco-friendly packaging and ingredients in our product recipes. All of our aloe vera soaps are wrapped with 100 percent biodegradable shrink wrap and packaged in recyclable and biodegradable boxes. Aloe vera is the obvious main ingredient in our handcrafted Blossom Aloe Vera soaps. Did you know aloe vera has several beneficial factors for your skin?
Benefits of aloe vera:
-Soothes itchy, dry skin
-Antimicrobial; helps fight acne-causing bacteria
-Rich in vitamins C and E which carry anti-aging properties
Aloe vera can be found in plenty of personal products such as lotions, shampoo, sunscreen and soap. Blossom has five full-size bars of aloe vera soap as well as our Happy Hour 3-Piece Soap Sampler and Citrus Delight 3-Piece Soap Sampler that contain our most popular aloe vera soap scents. Some of the main ingredients inside our Aloe Vera soaps include aloe vera gel, herbs and several types of essential oils. These ingredients combine to make the perfect solution for better, smoother skin.
Now until January 31, take 20 percent off ALL Blossom Aloe Vera Soaps with the code “aloethere”! Shop the Blossom soap collection here.
2019 was an eventful year for Blossom to say the least! With the help of our amazing team members and our community, we were able to impact the lives of the individuals with developmental disabilities who make our products.
Here’s a look at some of the things we were able to accomplish in 2019!
10 new jobs created
4 seasonal products introduced
8 events exhibited
5 local partnerships made
1,000 bars of soap wrapped
2 large rolls of biodegradable shrink-wrap used
23 total varieties of herbs, trees and flowers planted
26 dance parties
Our crafters have shown tremendous progress since the beginning of the year. Through the support of their leaders, they will continue to expand their skills and business knowledge. We have so many people to thank for helping kick off our first full year in business. Our leadership team helped grow Blossom from the roots up. Of course, we have our crafters to thank for their dedication to making our high-quality artisanal products!