Kianna, who is a client with the Toward Maximum Independence (TMI) Tailored Day Services program which serves individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), has decided to be her own boss! She started Kianna Beads and makes beautiful jewelry which she sells at the Otay Ranch Farmer's Market. Our personal favorites are her butterfly bracelets which represent her transformation.
The Farmer's Market is at a mall in Kianna's community where she often runs into former teachers and family friends. Being at the Market allows her family to understand why community is a cornerstone of the Tailored Day Services program. Neighbors and friends come by because it is Kianna and they want to support her. The Manager of the Market was initially hesitant. He said that he had too many jewelry businesses at a venue for farm products.
"When I told him Kianna's background he said, 'I love her story,'" said Kianna's mom Alison. "We also met the owner of a Pizza Hut franchise in the area who gave us a lead to a friend with a retail location in our community where we might sell her jewelry as well."
Kianna's TMI Facilitator Linda Hernandez attends art classes with Kianna in a private studio in her community where she learns to draw and paint unique inspirations for jewelry designs and, if she chooses to expand her business, she can put those designs on t-shirts and sweatshirts to complement the jewelry.
"With a self determination program such as Tailored Day Services you get to think outside the box," added Alison. "Ms. Hernandez is not just a support person for Kianna, she is Kianna’s friend. Today, they went for breakfast before class. Kianna is 23 and feels like a grown-up when she goes places without her mother."
Alison isn't just Kianna's mom; she is an independent facilitator for future self-determination programs. She is now branching out to help other families "Sail into the future with self-determination", which is her slogan.
"Self-employment can be a more fulfilling and successful path to financial independence for individuals with developmental disabilities," added Alison. "I hope to lead the way."
Alison expressed her gratitude for the support she has received from the amazing employees at TMI including TMI Job Coach Carol Atherton and her TMI Division Manager Jerla Wood who has been incredibly responsive in selecting staff that will support Kianna in communication and customer prospecting. Carol inspires and motivates Kianna to talk to customers and share her story. Other staff at TMI have been equally supportive as well.
"I signed up with TMI because TMI Director of Supported Employment Marcus Byrd listened to my unique vision for Kianna’s business and presented no roadblocks to her dream," explained Alison. "TMI Associate Division Manager Mohamed Ali provided personal attention in going with Kianna for a job interview at T.J. Maxx. Kianna decided to focus on her business because of the flexibility and being the 'boss' to her young cousins who help her string beads. 'It takes a village,' right? Kianna thrives on relationships which is why the person-centered planning aspect of a self-determination program is so effective in meeting goals. Thank you to TMI for making Kianna happy."
We love to see our clients succeeding doing what they love!
"I imagine that it's not just the mom who feels proud to see her child thrive in the TMI program," added Alison. "I believe TMI's highly esteemed support team who has helped her to thrive as an adult feel the same way. She has grown due to the services and support she receives from TMI."
We are all very proud of you, Kianna, and we know that you have a bright future ahead!
Check out more of Kianna's beautiful collection on her Facebook page and be sure to follow her page because Kianna is always checking on the number of followers!
(Thank you to Alison for contributing to this story. She would also like to thank Kianna's "village" who have helped make her success possible: San Diego Regional Center including Kianna's coordinator Jennifer Rillamas and Manager David Web-Rex who happens to be her former high school teacher, as well as the agency that processes the invoices Home of Guiding Hands and their Controller Shawn Hoffman who incorporates the principle of the Self-Determination Program (SDP), client-centered focus, into payment processing services. Thank you to Treetop Tutoring, a vendor in our community, who worked with Kianna to create the business products poster board shown in the picture above. They epitomize the SDP concept of community integration. Though they cater to a younger clientele, they customized a pro-business curriculum for Kianna. The poster board shows that her jewelry is made of real gemstones and is a talking point for customers who said, "Oh, I thought it was 'just beads'". Mildred Center of iyubo.com created the adorable and relevant logo for Kianna Beads and her Facebook page, thank you! In addition. she has family support from her sister Kira Hunter who comes to the Farmer's Market every Tuesday to help us pack up and take the tent down and is a great photographer, her young cousins Donnie and Kali whom Kianna supervises beading tasks, and her dad Jerry Hunter who is always finding new customers. We can't thank you all enough for helping Kianna to succeed!)
TMI clients with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are a part of our Tailored Day Services (TDS) program are encouraged to self-direct and participate in determining their program day. We are here to help our clients plan their day their way. With the anticipation of maximizing life satisfaction, this exciting program tailors our client’s day based on their personal choices, hopes and dreams.
Toward Maximum Independence (TMI) has been transforming the lives of children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities since 1981 and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing since 2000. In 2020, we launched Disabled Veteran Employment Services. TMI strives to help our clients to realize their hopes and dreams by providing Employment Solutions, Community Living and Family Support Services throughout San Diego, Riverside and Imperial Counties. To stay connected with us, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Together we can share acceptance and awareness, ultimately contributing to further inclusion.