DENVER – 15-year-old Sean Daley has struggled with severe autism since age three. But, through therapy, and with his mom’s dedication, he’s made great strides – including starting a sugar scrub business during Covid-19.
“Sean loves to make his sugar scrubs, he is a very special young man, [and] he has autism,” Jo Daley said of her son. “It's been an incredible journey, he's taught me so much, and he's just adorable.”
Seanie Sugar Scrubs
A Denver teen and his mother started a sugar scrub business during Covid-19.
Daley recalled the company's genesis.
“Last year when the pandemic first hit, we were at home like so many people, feeling a little scared and anxious,” Daley said. “I thought, you know, what if Sean made little gifts for people to kind of brighten their day, and not only would that benefit him, but it would benefit others in the community – to kind of spread a little love and joy during the crazy time.”
She wanted to incorporate as much of her son into the gifts as possible.
“I know that he loves painting, he loves stickers, he loves soft things and of course he loves sugar. So Seanie Sugar Scrubs was born.”
Initially they mailed the sugar scrubs to family, friends and neighbors.
“People loved it. They loved that he was behind it and it was his creativity. The response we got was ‘wow that is so cool, good for him,’” Daley said.
“We just started feeling like let's make this a business,” Daley continued. “So, we got a website going, we made some custom labels and we put his artwork on the label. It all just kind of came together.”
The money Sean makes goes to purchasing new scrub supplies, and a small paycheck for Sean to buy treats.
Though Sean faces communication challenges, his therapists have helped him grow and flourish through new activities and ventures.
“We met an incredible team of therapists that have been with us the whole time, and we would not be here today if it wasn't for them,” Daley said.
Annette Nunez, PhD, and her team at Breakthrough Interventions, created an at-home therapy curriculum for Sean and have worked with him for much of his life.
“I have been working with Sean for years, I think since he was four,” Nunez said. “We do have a special relationship. Like with all my clients I try to push them beyond their limits.”
Through the curriculum created by Nunez, they discovered Sean can run, so they ran a 5K race. They also hike and go swimming.
“I have a very special bond with him, and with his family as a whole,” Nunez said.
Jo Daley said that she discovered more about herself through working so closely with Nunez and has become closer to Sean through the process.
“They have invested in him, and me, and I feel like for years I wasn't as invested," Daley said. "When I started becoming invested in learning how to be a better parent, learning better skills that I wasn't aware of, it really took off. My relationship with Sean got better so I kind of had to reinvent myself.”
As for the future of Seanie Sugar Scrubs, Jo Daley hopes to grow the business to include other youth with autism to be able to make and sell their product, whatever that may be. As of now, no other products are being offered, but that could soon change.
“The big dream is to have this grow and grow and someday be able to hire other people on the spectrum with disabilities,” Daley said. “There's a need for that in every community everywhere to be able to employ people with disabilities. I feel like if you provide a workplace where they're going to feel accepted and supported to learn maybe even a new skill, or be creative, then they can thrive.”
As Jo watches Sean grow and blossom with this venture, she loves seeing him find a purpose.
“Every day he faces challenges with communicating and being social and to have an outlet where he can feel like, ‘yes! I have this purpose, I can do this,’ it's great to see,” Daley said.