SAN GABRIEL, Calif. – In San Gabriel a mom has opened a different kind of flower shop.
Susan Sanchez, the shop's owner, is a botanist who's been teaching her daughter Sofia to arrange flowers.
"We’ve been teaching Sofia about flowers and plants since she was born," said Sanchez. "We’ve always had a garden.”
In the summer of 2019, they turned that garden into a business and opened Frida Pickles Flowers Shop, named after their dog.
Sanchez and her husband decided to become small business owners for Sofia, who is austistic. She is only 11-years-old, but her parents know how hard it can be for people with special needs to find jobs when they become adults.
"There really aren’t many jobs out there and those jobs that are out there aren’t paid or are low-paid or maybe doing things that are high-stress like bagging groceries with a lot of lights and commotion," said Sanchez. "And we wanted to create employment opportunities that are calming and that are less stressful and that help our daughter and others to really be calm and to learn something."
According to state data, in 2015, while 75 percent of Californians were employed, just 34 percent of people with any kind of disability were employed. And just 13 percent of people with developmental disabilities had jobs.
Californians with disabilities made $666 a month on average, in 2016.
Sanchez intentionally employs people with special needs. People like Chris, who is 21 and working his first job.
The shop so far employs eight people with disabilities. And they have a training program with the nearby Alhambra and San Gabriel school districts to train students. Sanchez sees it as an opportunity not just for those with special needs, but to educate the larger community on the need to interact with people of all abilities.
“Like flowers we’re all different and I think that’s really important for people to get and especially in this little community here but broadly,” said Sanchez.
She wants to provide a space for her daughter and others…to grow.
Frida Pickles Flowers Shop
404 W Leslie Dr, San Gabriel, CA 91775