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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Microbusinesses show creativity, drive to succeed of those with disabilities

 Jonathan Kuhn, CEO of JTK Custom Creations of Farmington Hills, shows off his hand-made pens that were for sale at the Champions of Achievement Event in Troy.


The Fourth Annual Champions for Achievement Event met with great success as some 20 microbusiness owners displayed their hand-made products ranging from classy ink pens to jewelry, artwork and greeting cards.
The two-hour event was held at the Troy Community Center on Friday with Ron Savage, the co-anchor of Fox 2 News, being the emcee. Sponsors include the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center, Community Living Services and the Oakland County Community Mental Health Authority.

“This event is great,” said Amy Kopovits, of Walled Lake, known as the Avon lady who has recruited 43 others to sell Avon products. “We need more of this to encourage people with disabilities to create their own business, ” she added, noting March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.

Jonathan Kuhn, CEO of JTK Custom Creations of Farmington Hills, makes and was selling custom made writing instruments. The pens start off from a block of wood which he turns on a lathe and end up being well-balanced and very colorful works of art – which include a stylus on one end – that are worth every bit of the $40 he charges. “It’s great for Jonathon’s self-esteem,” said his mother Ginny. “There’s no price on self-esteem.”

“It’s inspiring for me to see these projects come to life,” said Savage. “It’s from the heart. It’s their passion.

Some products – various sizes of First Aid kits -- were practical such as those sold during the past five years by Dorothy King of Livonia. Prices ranged from $4.50, $7 to $21. “I like my business a lot,” she said.

DJR Productions, LLC, owned by Ricky Bledsoe of Warren, a radio personality and DJ, played music for an Elvis impersonator during the event. Bledsoe has thousands of gigs of music of all types and provides music at all types of events. He will next appear 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. March 19 at the Kensington Community Church in Troy to play a Christian medley. Thereafter, he will appear the third Thursday of each month at the nondenominational mega church. Money Bledsoe earns is reinvested in his five-year business.

Kerry Oliver of Waterford was selling soaps and air fresheners from her two-year-old business, “Kerr’s Soap Sensations.” Oliver attends about six shows a year and said, “I like to go out.”
“It’s a great opportunity for people to try out microbusinesses in a safe environment,” said Lindsay Stokes, a MORC vocational services worker. “It gives the participants the chance to work on their salesmanship, helps with confidence and adds purpose” to their lives.

Renee Uitto of Troy was selling greeting, birthday, holiday, Easter and other type of homemade cards from her “Rene’s Creative Card” business. Prices were very reasonable ranging in price up to $2. “I really like my business,” she said. “It gives me a way to express myself.” On the back of each card it said this card was “Created Especially for You by Someone Special.”

Jerry Wolffe is the writer-in-residence, advocate-at-large at the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center. He can be reached at (586) 263-8950.