COLORADO SPRINGS — A local teen is helping young adults with developmental disabilities get jobs. It's all through his own company called Hunter's Hope Soaps, which prides itself on enabling the developmentally disabled.
Hunter Abeyta from Colorado Springs is 18 years old and has been diagnosed with autism and a developmental delay. However, that didn't stop him from beginning to make soaps with a purpose about four years ago.
"It's a lot of fun. You get the soap cubes in a bag and then we pour them into the measuring cups, and then we pick a scent," said Abeyta. "We pick the color, put them in the microwave for 30 seconds, stir it around and see how good it smells, and then pick a mold to put them in."
Abeyta makes soaps, candles, bath bombs and sugar scrips with help from his mother, Dawn, and his sister-in-law, Amber Detwiler. It's a labor of love among his family and even his friends.
"(When he first started) He was so into it and he really really liked mixing the sugar scrubs and putting in fragrances and smells and helping us make our labels, and he was just so excited about it," said Detwiler, who also mentioned that making the products is therapeutic as well. "This is something that he can do and this is something that is functional and helps us work on vocational skills and life skills and fine motor skills."
Detwiler said they also began the business after realizing there weren't many opportunities out of high school for young adults with disabilities.
"We weren't thrilled with the opportunities that are presented with young adults with disabilities here in Colorado communities. Quite frankly, there isn't a lot going on after high school," said Detwiler. "As they transition out of high school and become young adults, life changes a little bit, and I think having them having a sense of purpose, it makes them feel important."
When business began to pick up within the past year, Abeyta also started inviting his friends over who have disabilities, for soap-making Sundays.
"It's just fun helping out the kids and learning new things," said Abeyta.
The handmade products represent different areas and locations in the state of Colorado. Some of the products are Colorado Springs Catalilly, Monument Mistletoe, Palmer Lake Pine, Denver Dry Gin, Aspen Apple Cider, Grand Lake Grapefruit, Telluride White Tea.
The young adults also write thank you notes and deliver the products to places like Ashley's Attic, a boutique in downtown Colorado Springs.
As Hunter's Hope grows as a business, they also want to open more doors for people with challenges. One day, they'd like to open brick and mortar shop, and have a full day program where young adults with special needs can go in, work with therapists, and learn how to have a job selling products, and managing money.
"We'd really like to grow this into a sustainable business where Hunter and his friends can have a safe environment to grow life skills and learn about money, friendships, daily living skills, and plus it's a job that will grow and they can sustain over years to come," said Detwiler.
For more information about Hunter's Hope Soaps, click here.