Jackson and Anna: Developing a Business Partnership



Jackson and Anna both live in Davis, CA, where they grew up and went to junior high school together. They have busy lives volunteering in their community, and both say that they relate well to kids.

With help from their job coaches and support teams, and with regular meetings about self-employment, Jackson and Anna were each able to explore their talents, try out business ideas, and eventually decide to become business partners.

What's Important

Jackson and AnnaJackson and Anna both graduated from high school in 2002 with some idea of what they liked to do. Jackson knew he was interested in working with computers and software. He was teaching himself to use Adobe Photoshop for graphic design, and was very good at creating pictures to make people laugh. As Jackson got better with Photoshop, he and his job coach, Prestin,  worked with his support team of relatives and friends to think of business ideas.

Jackson met every two weeks at Progressive Employment Concepts, his adult service agency, with his support team and Judy, a staff member who dedicates her time to working with people interested in self-employment. Judy helped him do a feasibility study by learning how other people run successful businesses, for example, selling their art.

Judy also helped Jackson test his business ideas. One of his first ideas was to sell his pictures through a business he would start called Jackson's Amazing Art. His support team suggested adding cartoon characters to cards. However, based on feedback from children who looked at the cards he created, he decided to get more training with Adobe Photoshop to improve the cartoons.

Jackson then took training classes in Photoshop at Sacramento City College. With better computer and Photoshop skills, he used his savings to buy a laptop and camera. He continued to meet every two weeks, with Judy to discuss his progress, keep track of any profits he had made from selling cards, review whether his ideas had worked or not, and come up with a new list of ideas and tasks.

Meanwhile, Anna had a job helping kids build teddy bears at Build-A-Bear Workshop. Similar to Jackson, Anna was working with her own team of relatives and friends, Judy and her job coach, Gail, on a feasibility study of her own business ideas.

The team considered ideas such as selling stuffed animals from a cart. Then Anna bought beautiful stuffed animals and tried displaying them in the window of a flower shop, but they did not sell.

Because she likes to operate machinery, Anna's support team suggested that she learn how to make buttons and magnets. She liked this idea and bought machines with her own funds. She went to Ace Hardware to have the machines adapted so she could use them more easily.

Anna started a business selling gifts and using her new button- and magnet-making skills. Anna and her business team met every two weeks with Judy to review her progress, go over the records they had begun to keep for her business, and generate more ideas and tasks to work on in between meetings. But she still needed someone to design the buttons she wanted to sell.

Although Jackson and Anna's support teams often work together, they were each supported by a different employment staff member. As Anna and Jackson developed their business ideas and Anna's business got underway, Jackson's team realized that he would be the perfect business partner for Anna. When his team suggested the idea to Jackson, he loved it and they developed the business further through their partnership.

What Happened

Buttons 'n Bears, Oh My! has been in business since 2008. Along with custom buttons and magnets, customers can buy stuffed animals, appropriate for all gift-giving occasions.

Anna and Jackson, supported by their job coaches, work with individuals and organizations to find the right design for any occasion. They have gained customers largely through word of mouth and Jackson's growing skills marketing their business through social media.

Jackson and Anna have a busy schedule selling their merchandise from their store in Davis and at local community events, and creating buttons and magnets specific to each event. When Buttons 'n Bears, Oh My! is exhibiting at community events, Anna and Jackson can always be seen designing and creating their latest work.

Lessons Learned

  • Anna and Jackson benefitted from support teams of people with imagination. Friends and relatives who knew them well helped them imagine possibilities that matched their specific interests and talents.
  • Both Anna and Jackson participated in their community as much as possible, which helped the community become aware of them as people who could work. They each accessed their community for help, as Anna did when she took her button- and magnet-making tools to Ace Hardware for adaptations and Jackson took PhotoShop classes at a local college. They seized every opportunity to let the community see them designing and creating their products.

For more information, contact:

Buttons 'n Bears, Oh My!
Email: buttonsnbearsohmy@gmail.com
Website: www.buttonsnbears.com