Meet Gabi Angelini, the Founder of Gabi’s Grounds Coffee Shop. We are honored to have such an inspiring role “model” walk the runway at our Zaftan Fashion Show on 17 April 2020 at Chatham Station in Cary, NC. Read about how Gabi started her business and continues to advocate for others with disabilities. Get tickets for the fashion show at zaftan.com and get a chance to meet her! The interview below was conducted with Gabi’s mom, Ms. Mary Angelini.
(1) Tell us about Gabi’s current profession and what her work involves. Gabi is a 22 year-old girl with Down Syndrome. She is always on the move, participating in aerial circus and Special Olympics gymnastics classes, playing basketball and tennis! Every Saturday, Gabi works as a bagger at our local grocery store. Over the summer she was interested in picking up more hours but her request was routinely denied. Attempting to get hired for a second job proved difficult as well and when we noticed lots of her friends with varying special needs were struggling to find work too, we decided we needed a plan for Gabi’s future. We originally discussed opening a restaurant, but last summer inspiration struck when we went to visit a coffee shop that employs people with disabilities! We decided a coffee shop would be a more realistic goal and thus, Gabi’s Grounds was born! Along with her paychecks, Gabi has been saving all the money she receives for her birthday and Christmas every year to open her coffee shop. Aside from receiving her diploma, Gabi’s biggest goal right now is to get her coffee shop up and running and she is incredibly dedicated to bringing this dream to life!
(2) Share about how Gabi contributes to the community or about any volunteer service or interests that she has. Gabi’s been diligent in finding ways to distribute her product without an official location for a coffee shop. She volunteers at her Pop up coffee shops at different locations each week, sometimes traveling all across the country. She also regularly hand delivers her coffee to local customers’ doorsteps and offers hot and iced coffees for company meetings, conferences and special events. All this work is paying off with an exciting milestone as Gabi’s coffee is now carried in Harris Teeter, Lowes and Weaver Street Market, making her product even more accessible to the masses! She’ll often travel to conferences where she presents to audiences on how young adults with special needs can also start their own company to spread the knowledge she’s learned and inspire people like her to also create opportunities for themselves.
(3) Gabi’s passion – What is her “Why?” Why does she get out of bed each morning? Gabi’s “why” is that she wants other people like her to be provided the opportunity to grow as individuals and find purpose through employment. She needs people to understand that having special needs shouldn’t prevent anyone from reaching goals, finding inclusion, and contributing to their communities. Gabi’s creating a space for people like her to achieve all these things in the hopes that soon the rest of the world will catch up, becoming one huge space where anyone can succeed. This is more than a coffee shop for Gabi. She wants her shop to be a fun place for everyone to visit. From coffee and pastries to karaoke nights and dance parties, Gabi’s shop will be an inclusive place for the community to come together. Money raised on this GoFundMe campaign will be combined with the profits from Gabi’s booth where she sells coffee, t-shirts, mugs, and stickers and will go towards securing a shop location, paying rent and salary for employees, coolers, coffee makers and other necessities to run and supply the shop.