WATCH NOW: Hands of Heartland’s Creatables Store Offers Items Made By People With Disabilities | Local


COLLIN SPILINEK Fremont Tribune

Preparing for the launch of Hands of Heartland’s Creatables store, Faye Kreikemeier said the people they serve have held meetings with vendors to determine buying and selling prices.

“It’s kind of about protecting their product as well,” she said. “But they’re involved every step of the way, and it’s really great to see them in business mode. “

On December 10, Hands of Heartland, a disability service and support organization at 320 N. Main St., will be opening a retail store next to its main entrance.

The grand opening of Creatables will take place around 2 to 8 p.m. and will feature food and prizes for the public.

“We really want to make sure that more people enjoy seeing Creatables, but also seeing this space that we have for the people we support,” Kreikemeier said. “We have a very large space, so we can serve anyone here and at any age. “

Store hours will be 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday. Overtime may be added in the evenings and on weekends in the future.

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“We’re really excited to bring all of these different products to Fremont,” said Area Manager Cheri Rychly. “It’s going to be something different.”

The store will be managed and comprised of gift items created not only by disabled people at Hands of Heartlands, but also by outside manufacturers.

“We really feel like we are not only supporting the people we are supporting, but we are also supporting people all over the world and bringing products,” Rychly said.

The Hands of Heartland site in Fremont opened in April 2020. The organization has been in business for over 20 years and also has offices in Bellevue, Lincoln, West Point and Grand Island.

The center provides multiple services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Dodge and Washington counties, including home support, volunteering, and employment supports.

“A lot of our people have jobs and are in the community, and then here at the day center we do a lot of art and stuff,” Kreikemeier said. “And then we also do basic life skills and things like that.”

Kreikemeier is responsible for artistic projects at Hands of Heartland, which includes a line of fabrics called “Choose Kindness”.

“We decided to make bags and shirts and we want to grow and make hats and things like that and mugs and everything else just as a way to really cheer up, kindness is a really important thing of all. way, ”she said. “But so we kind of encourage that, and that’s something that’s important to them.”

At Hands of Heartland, Rychly said individuals decide what their day will be like in morning meetings and take charge of what they end up doing.

“It’s really not about power or an ‘I am your staff’,” she said. “It’s everyone who works together, which is really cool.”

With individuals in mind, Kreikemeier said the relationship that followed was fantastic.

“I can just say they’re happy, because they’re kind of in charge of us,” she said. “We can offer things, but they choose and it’s just great to see them exercise those freedoms.”

After Kreikemeier pitched the idea for a store to Rychly, the two realized that it could be a big business to do so entirely dependent on the creations of their own individuals.

“The people we support started to use their computer skills to search the internet for companies or people who made things with disabilities,” Rychly said. “And so we decided to open a store where everything is made by a disabled person from all over the world.”

After Kreikemeier created and presented a PowerPoint proposal, CEO Mason Morgan and COO Brett Samson gave him the green light.

“They really loved the concept and the idea, so we feel really supported by the company,” said Rychly.

Creatables is expected to include a slew of items, including prints by English photographer Oliver Hellowell and coffee beans by Gabi Angelini, who runs Gabi’s Grounds in Raleigh, North Carolina.

“Most of them are from people with disabilities who maybe thought they couldn’t have a traditional job, so they started this business,” Kreikemeier said. “And then they were able to hire other people with disabilities, which is just amazing.”

Angelini’s products also include children’s books in her “Dan the Fish” series, a collaborative effort that educates children about people with disabilities.

“It’s about her as an inspiration to others so it’s really really cool,” Kreikemeier said. “And the best part is all in the book, it’s written, illustrated, all by people with disabilities.”

In addition, the store will also offer soup mixes, cookies, candles and jams, also created by people with disabilities.

“So they help us with our business and we support other people with developmental disabilities and their businesses,” Rychly said.

The products also include a biography of their creators, how they started the business and what their dream was.

“It’s through every product, so people can read about the dreams and by buying the product, the people they support,” Rychly said. “It’s really, really cool.”

Going forward, Rychly said his hope is to bring in some of the artists to talk about their products and meet the audience.

“They could come and listen to them about how they started and maybe encourage other people to start their own businesses and make those dreams come true,” she said. “That’s what we really want with this.”

In addition to being able to choose the products and taste them, Kreikemeier said the individuals of Hands of Heartland will also have their items in stock.

“We have our ‘Choose Kindness’ line, and then we have a bunch of home decorations as well,” she said. “And we’ve been working on ornaments like crazy lately, so we’re going to be releasing those ornaments soon.”

The individuals also worked on setting up the store, including building IKEA furniture and creating the labels.

“They did it all and we are really here to support them,” Rychly said. “Our motto is, ‘Do with, not for,’ so we do things with people, but not for people. “

Not only will the individuals create the store, but Kreikemeier said they will run it as well.

“We’re just going to be there to support them, and they’re going to check people and handle transactions and count inventory and replenishment and everything like that,” she said.

Kreikemeier said individuals have also learned how to use the Square payments platform to manage the meter.

“I love it and I am very excited,” she said. “They worked so hard for months on this. “

The entire process of creating the products and the store has given the individuals of Hands of Heartland a sense of empowerment, pride and satisfaction.

“Not only that, but the skills that they develop, it’s really great to watch them sharpen,” she said. “Because they’re so talented and so capable and it’s really great just to kind of help them do what they want to do.”

Rychly said she was also excited to start a retail space in Fremont, which she says has supported Hands of Heartland and its individuals.

“If we can have a store that brings people downtown to help support other businesses, we love it here,” she said. “We like being downtown, we like the businesses around us. “

Not only will Creatables benefit the individuals of Hands of Heartland, but Kreikemeier said it will raise awareness of the abilities, talents and strengths of people with disabilities.

“I just think this post is super important to be able to shine a light on the amazing things that they are doing, and again for our individuals, this is awesome,” she said. “They do so much in the community, and for them it’s a way to really fit in to be business leaders.”


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