For a downtown Leesburg business and a nonprofit aimed at empowering adults with disabilities, Autism Awareness Month was the perfect time to celebrate a new collaboration.
Be Beauty, a custom makeup studio at Market Station, and the Paxton Campus’ STEP Up Team have launched Love-ABLE Products, a line of beauty and home products. During an April 11 kickoff event at Be Beauty, two new products were available for purchase—Love-ABLE Bath Fizzies and Love-ABLE Room Deodorizer.
The collaboration came about through Be Beauty owner Christina Gatsby’s friendship with Paxton Campus Executive Director Jennifer Lassiter and Meredith Lefforge, Paxton’s director of development. Gatsby, who opened her studio last fall, saw Lassiter post on social media about her daughter making her own bath fizzies. For Gatsby, who likes to focus on offering products with clean ingredients, it was a perfect match to engage Paxton’s STEP Up Team with helping to create the product.
The STEP Up Team includes young adults with disabilities who are employees at Leesburg’s Paxton Campus. STEP Up, which stands for Supported Training and Employment Program, provides adults with disabilities with training and meaningful employment opportunities both on campus and in the community, according to a Paxton press release.
“We are trying to empower young adults with disabilities, who might not be successful in another environment, to become entrepreneurs and create their own businesses with whatever interests them,” STEP Up Program Director Katie Wilcox said.
Five STEP Up team members were involved in the creation of the Love-ABLE products, and an intern even created the product logo. Although none were present at the April 11 event, one STEP Up member, 20-year-old Kyle McKinny, helped cater the event, as he has done for other Paxton functions.
Both Gatsby and Paxton team members seem excited about the possibility of more ventures together, and Wilcox noted this is the first time one of the STEP Up team’s products has been available for sale outside of Paxton.
The Love-ABLE products are available for purchase at Be Beauty, 203 Harrison St SE in Leesburg, or online at paxtoncampus.org.