August 19, 2015

Kim - Snow globe cake
Kim – Snow globe cake

Roseburg, Or – Kim Miller has autism and has always dreamed of owning her own bakery. Together with her mother Eileen, she has set up a GoFundMe campaign in order to make this dream become a reality. This can be viewed here.

Eileen’s motto, which is “Breaking the Glass Ceiling of Autism.” is steering forward the campaign and to date $2,940 has been raised of the $7,900 target that is needed to pay expensive government fees and to buy the mandatory equipment that is needed to set up the business.

We got in touch with Kim and Eileen Miller, to find out when Kim’s love of cooking began and to learn more about this inspiring business venture.

Eileen began by telling us that Kim always loved art and that this was her ‘life force’ from the age of three. “It was her voice long before she could sign or speak to communicate and be understood. Without communication, her life had no reference point. She took abstract concepts, created works on paper, in clay, with beads…and made those puzzling concepts concrete. She was happy, ambitious, the future was bright.”

Things began to change for Kim though when she has finished college. Eileen told that she would come home with headaches every day and that her art “took a dark turn”. She was no longer the happy girl that she has been, “something had changed and Kim couldn’t tell anyone, because she couldn’t put it into words to tell anyone.” Eileen further discussed this in her book, Behind the Pictures: Strategies for Change’, about her life with Kim. For two years Eileen tried different strategies to get Kim back on track but nothing seemed to work. That was until one day when she was upset, and Eileen told her that they were going to create something for her favourite teacher at Junior High School.

“I thought this might lift her spirits if she could create something, to tap into color, creativity and the love for her teacher. Even though there were many tears in the kitchen, Kim could stifle her upset and focus on the task at hand. The more she baked and decorated the less bleak her outlook was in general.”

From this moment they began to bake and give away the goods that they made which gave Kim much needed positive feedback and some social interaction. As more and more orders from friends and family came in, they would simply specify what color or theme they would like, which allowed Kim to create something completely unique.

“She may not be able to understand or channel her feelings of upset, but she could have control over her project and that meant control over her creativeness. Art again came to her rescue.”

Kim - Sunflower cake
Kim – Sunflower cake

We asked Kim if baking is a way for her to relax and what it means to her. She told us:Baking for me is like an escape; when I work there’s nothing outside it when I’m concentrating. Baking takes the focus off my anxiety and onto making something delicious as well as aesthetically pleasing. It is an extension of my artistic talent; branching off doing something different without being outside of my realm.

When did you decide that you wanted to open your own bakery? When did you realise that it could actually happen?

I decided to have my own bakery because of three reasons 1. When I noticed that after a while I was feeling really satisfied mind and soul 2. I was getting more requests for my cakes and cookies from friends and 3. My kitchen is currently too small for the growing amount of work I’m doing. I live in a small house where the daily hustle my home life collides with what was my then hobby. I would also like a place to work separate from my home; it makes me feel like I have a real job. While hearing about my former classmates getting married, having kids, off to great jobs, I felt left behind, but it wasn’t my fault yet it felt like it did. When I worked at home for a while it got too boring being in the same place 24/7 like I’m some kind of bird in a cage. I got cabin fever. Whereas in my future shop I get to talk to people and get enough social interaction that I can stand. I will have something different to look forward to each day including mental challenges that put my school work to use and to decorate my place for each holiday I love. I make marketing decisions and determine the direction in which my business will go.

Where will the bakery be situated and do you have a name?

My shop will be called “Kim’s Cupcakery”. It’s a bakery boutique. I do not have a location yet because of government regulations. I did have a sight at one time, but due to government fees and regulations that location had to be ruled out as a possibility.

How many other people will you employ? Will those individuals also be on the autism spectrum?

Eileen told us:

This is how we envision the bakery: Kim and I will work for nothing. That is right, nothing. We will work toward building up the business- all monies put back- reinvested into the business, until the business is viable and stable.

What does she get out of it? Employment, purpose for living, fulfilment of creativity, social interaction, pride of job well done, stability in day to day life.

The ultimate dream?  Once the bakery is doing well, we hope to bring in people like Kim from the high school to train them in customer service, hygiene- self presentation, greeting as well as some of the baking aspects and handling money (Not just janitorial service!) We met a girl who hangs out at the mall day after day with nothing to do. She has a smile of an angel…unemployable, why? She is in a wheelchair. We hope to train/employ as many as we can…but it starts with one dream. That’s getting Kim started.

Eileen ends by telling us:

Let it be understood. Kim is THE boss. She calls the shots. She determines how the project goes further, what colors we use; how the goods will look…I am the manager. I call out the time as Kim decorates. I make sure we are on schedule, on the correct project, that she has the proper tools and ingredients, I assist Kim when needed and yes, I HAVE BEEN ASKED TO LEAVE THE KITCHEN BY KIM! (which by the way, I totally respect.) Kim is a marketing genius because her brain works all of the time!! I will be focusing on the mechanics of the operation to make sure ingredients come in and goods go out as well as keep Kim’s energies channelled in the right direction.

We wish Kim and Eileen the very best of success in setting up Kim’s Cupcakery.  I really think that they are going to break that glass ceiling of autism.

Kim’s GoFundMe page can be found here:

You can follow Eileen on twitter @SpokeWithPics3

Eileen’s website where you can purchase her books can be found here:

About the author 

Jo Worgan

Jo Worgan is a published author, writer and blogger. She has a degree in English Literature. She writes about life with her youngest son who is on the autistic spectrum. Jo tweets (@mummyworgan) and is also a freelance columnist for the Lancaster Guardian. ‘My Life with Tom, Living With Autism‘ is her second book and a culmination of her blog posts, and available on Kindle now, along with her first book, Life on the Spectrum. The Preschool years.

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