It truly pays to have connections in the right places, especially when that place is a candle company that’s all about giving back. Meet Dawn Detwiler-Abeyta and Amber Rea-Detwiler, the founders of Hunter’s Hope Soaps. I was lucky enough to meet these two inspiring ladies and learn about their mission, and I’m honored to share their story. If you’re already sold without reading (likely), check out their Etsy store here.
- Tell us the story behind Hunter’s Hope Soaps.
Dawn Detwiler-Abeyta: It all started very simply. My daughter-in-law, Amber, and I made some hand-crafted gifts for Christmas a few years ago. We were creating different kinds of soaps and sugar scrubs. Hunter, my teenage son who is developmentally disabled, came in to help and loved the process! We noticed right away that he loved being creative with scents and colors. He also stayed engaged with the projects and enjoyed seeing his finished creations! He definitely had a sense of achievement that was wonderful to witness. Amber is a speech-language pathologist and clinic director of a private speech and occupational therapy clinic (Straka Speech Castle Rock). She suggested that Hunter and his friends from his SSN (significant support needs) classroom could not only manage making these bath and body products, but they would definitely benefit from the sensory and social process of it. It was then that we committed to Hunter’s Hope Soaps!
Amber Rea-Detwiler: It was amazing to see how engaged Hunter was in the soap-making process! Kiddos with developmental delays and disorders often have accompanying diagnoses, such as receptive and expressive language delays, social communication delays, attention difficulties and sensory processing disorders. Following directions, socializing, and targeting fine motor and sensory processing skills are all therapeutic benefits of Hunter’s Hope Soaps. But at the end of the day, our main goal is facilitating friendships and connections while building a successful business!
- What are some of the common misconceptions about working with the developmentally disabled?
DDA: I’m not sure about misconceptions, but I will say that these young adults have the best sense of humor and are some of the most compassionate humans I have ever met. They all have such a sense of accomplishment when they get to see their finished products.
ARD: I think kids and young adults with special needs are incredibly underestimated. They have A LOT of strengths -- we just have to find the right avenue to let them shine!
- Wait, but you both have full-time jobs. What’s it like balancing that and Hunter’s Hope Soaps?
DDA: Ha! It’s a lot. Amber and I both have full-time jobs, and Hunter and his friends are in school, and some have other part-time jobs as well. We believe in our mission. We are putting our ALL into really creating something long-lasting for these young adults.
ARD: Luckily, my full-time job as an SLP has given me great insight into working with kids and young adults with developmental disorders -- I do it every day! The idea is that Hunter’s Hope can continue after the kids all graduate high school and can grow into something of a full-time job. Many of these kids don’t really have a set plan after high school; most are unable to go to college or enter the workforce right away. Hunter’s Hope is meant to be a bridge and an outlet when they are no longer receiving special education services through school.
- Talk about the perfect Christmas gift! When did you add candles, bath bombs, and dough bowls to your business?
DDA: We are constantly evolving, experimenting and adding more products to our line. That’s so much fun! It’s where we get to be super creative, my favorite part! We added candles to the line in November 2018 and they are a hit! The dough bowls have just recently launched.
ARD: One of our favorite things about the line is that every scent is named for a Colorado city. Hunter actually came up with that idea. For example, we have Grand Lake Grapefruit, Castle Rock Coconut Lime, La Junta Lemon, etc. -- over 40 different cities and scents. We love customizing these scents to be relevant to our home state. Many local stores and boutiques that sell our products really enjoy that individualized piece… in addition to the great mission.
- You’ve partnered with Sugar Sisters Bakery for some amazing new products! How is that collab going? What can we expect?
DDA + ARD: It’s really fun! Creating all new customized scents and products for such an amazing bakery has been a blast. Bekah and Molly are hard-working ladies who also want to give back to their community, so we feel like we have a good collaboration. We’re still deciding on certain details, but it’s so great to take their vision and turn it into a reality. Everything smells so yummy and is inspired by their best-selling products. You’ll want to eat all of the products we are producing for them -- expect your house to smell like a bakery! Stay tuned for some exciting news with this, and check out their website in the meantime.
- Be honest, what’s your favorite candle scent? (Mine is Ouray Ocean Breeze!)
- What advice do you have for those looking to get their side hustle off the ground?
DDA: You get out of it what you put into it. Honestly, we work a lot! Be prepared to be overwhelmed at times, but if you believe in your products and/or mission, it’s all worth it.
ARD: You just have to believe in what you’re doing! For us, developing something to help Hunter and his friends in their futures was a no brainer. Plus, we get to play around with our (and their) creative sides. Support of family and friends is a huge component as well.
- What’s next for Hunter’s Hope Soaps?
DDA: We are hoping to have more open Hunter’s Hope Soap-Making Saturdays with groups of young adults who are interested in learning and working more with us. COVID-19 has really hindered our ability to have as many get-togethers as we would like. Ultimately, we would love for our business to be self-sustaining for a group of special needs adults to manage.
ARD: Having an actual location where these young adults can come to work every day in a safe environment, get paid to do what they enjoy, and practice life skills would be the end goal. Ideally, we can add different therapies into the mix, such as occupational therapy, to continue to build their skills.
- Where else can we find your products?
DDA + ARD: You can find our products at The Painted Estate in Littleton, Amazing Lemons Boutique, and Castle Rock Munchies in Castle Rock, Cupcake Gypsies in Loveland, Ashley’s Attic, Lady Fingers Press, and Bloom Bar in Colorado Springs, and The Gateway Canyon Spa in Gateway, Colorado. Very soon, you’ll be able to find a customized Hunter’s Hope x Sugar Sisters bath & body line available on their website!
Already thinking about your room smelling delightful? Check out the Etsy store and help grow Dawn, Amber, and Hunter’s mission of enabling the developmentally disabled.