A bakery in Lawrenceville, GA is in the national spotlight this week thanks to its unique employee base. Most of Special Kneads’ employees are adults who have special needs themselves. And the bakery is in the black just six months after opening, proving that success and hard work are not mutually exclusive for adults with special needs.
Bakery founders Tempa and Mike Kohler were initially inspired to start the bakery to give their 24-year-old son Bradeley with special needs something to do. In an interview with the Today Show, Bradley’s mother explained:
That was only the main thing going on in my mind: ‘What is he going to do when we’re gone? I’ve got to give him something to have, a place where he can go and be accepted.’ It means the world for us to be able to do this for him.
Reasoning that kids with special needs love to cook — and eat — Mike and Tempa knew a bakery would be a great idea for their son. But they did not know that their work force would ultimately include many more individuals like Bradley. Currently, the bakery employs nine adults with special needs.
The bakery has been a huge success. Aside from being a legitimate employer of people with special needs (they all receive a paycheck every other Friday), the bakery sells unique square-shaped cupcakes. And the clientele finds them irresistible.
Parents of employees with special needs recall how their kids are up and ready to go long before their shifts begin, hardly able to contain their excitement to begin working each day. Tempa says that she’s yet to have one employee call in sick. Employees with special needs love their job at the bakery, and love the reward of receiving their own pay check.
“What they do is critical to our success,” says Mike, underscoring the fact that these jobs are not provided as charity or just to give adults with special needs something to do. They are earning an honest wage and contributing in a very real way to the success of the business. Mike says their love for repetition is a boon to the business: “They do a lot of the jobs that most people don’t even really think about, and don’t want to do.”
The baker’s motto? Everyone kneads to be kneaded.
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