Starting up a small business is hard for any artist, but there are even more barriers if you have an intellectual or developmental disability.
But, a Cedarburg Business is proving anyone can be an entrepreneur.
If you’re shopping for unique art, luxury bath products and trendy fashions, Cedarburg Mercantile is the place to go.
“Personally, I love the curly top tees,” says Samantha Bear. “But beyond that, what I really have found is that each piece of art that comes in here, each product that we have in the story really does tell its own story.”
The Mercantile is the brainchild of Samantha and Cindi Purnell. The profits from the store benefit Bloom IDD – which aims to help individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Samantha and Cindi have opened up space for people like Aidan Dow, who has autism, to sell their work. These Curly Top Tees are Aidan’s creation.
“It really gives people the opportunity and the ability to share what they have to offer,” Samantha says.
Aside from developing their artistic talent, vendors get a chance to build their professional skills, like marketing and communication.
“It gives us a prime opportunity to create a safe environment for individuals who may get shut down in other areas, like makers’ markets or big fairs,” Samantha says.
“Because they do, they get overlooked a lot,” Cindi adds.
Cindi knows that through raising her daughter Dakota. Dakota attended Bethesda College at Concordia University, a program designed for young people with disabilities.
Samantha was her teacher there.
“She stayed with us for the next couple of years and my daughter is now living in Cedarburg in a home with three other roommates,” Cindy says. “And she’s becoming very independent.”
Cindi and Samantha’s friendship helped create this business. They wanted to see other people find Dakota’s success.
And that means doing more than just giving vendors a place to sell.
“We originally had wanted to do something that was employment based,” Samantha says.
“Come in and learn different things and find what they really like to do and we will help them hone in those skills, and help them to move out into the world,” Cindi says. “So they can become more productive citizens for our community.”
These women say they just want to help people grow.
“Or blossom, so to speak!” says Samantha.
Artists at Cedarburg Mercantile get paid for their sales at the end of every month. Samantha says a paycheck is something many of us take for granted, and she wants her clients to feel the same successes as any other small business owner.
Cedarburg Mercantile is located at W61N510 Washington Ave, Cedarburg, WI 53012.