Denise Hazen created Aspire Accessories as an outlet for her son Nick Hazen, a young adult on the autism spectrum. The concept was created after seeing Nick’s potential while he was tutoring under famed Aussie leather craftsman Peter Main. Nick worked with Peter weekly for four years and has since learned to stamp, sew and other general techniques used in the art of leather craftsmanship. Peter noticed that Nick has a keen eye for precision and was impressed with the fact that he was able to learn techniques that would normally take years (like the basket weave- using one stamp over and over again), only took Nick months to perfect.
Denise wanted to give Nick an opportunity to live independently through a viable trade so they started creating leather bracelets. At first, Denise had to stain the leather, Â which turned out to be time-consuming. Thankfully, Peter found them some Italian leather, which was already stained. After eliminating the most tedious task, they were left with simply cutting the leather, putting on the snaps and stamping it.
When Easter Seals heard about them, they ordered 300 at a time, giving them as gifts or incentives. News of the bracelets spread throughout the community.Â Local schools, Camp Waldemar and The Children’s Assessment Center, ordered a couple hundred at a time. Currently, Aspire Accessories is working on orders for the Houston Rodeo.
Denise thought it would be a great for Nick’sÂ classmates, as well as children on the autism spectrum, to help with pre- and post-production. The process has helped all the students participating with job skills, how to effectively manage their time, what they have to do to earn the money, what’s it like to get a paycheck and more. This prompted Denise to form a non-profit called Aspire for Success – a place where kids can learn job skills so that they can one day go out into the community as well as help in offices and other professional environments.
“These kids want to work. They are incredible workers…but they need a safe environment. That’s what I’m trying to provide, a place where they can work and learn a skill,” Hazen stated.
Aspire Accessories also holds ‘Sundae Socials.’ The events are fun and where the kids make sundaes and socialize.”They don’t know how to be social,” Hazen explained about children on the autism spectrum, “They crave that human interaction and that sense of community. They just need someone to help facilitate it.”
The Hazens are thankful for all the community outreach & support that has happened thus far. Once they get a bigger space, Denise wants to also bring in other special needs groups to work and earn a paycheck so that they can reach a bigger audience of the special needs community.
I was recently invited to check out the Aspire Accessories studio, tucked away in a temporary location in the lush Tanglewood neighborhood of Houston. Denise and Nick gave me a tour and showed me how they make a bracelet. From inserting in the snaps to the final step of stamping his makers mark, Nick’s precision was on point. It was a great experience to not only hear about this wonderful new brand and how it’s impacting the community in the best way possible; but also to watch a piece of leather transform into a wearable statement piece.
Aspire Accessories offers double-wrap bracelets for $20, triple-wrap bracelets for $24, and bracelets with bling for $30. The bracelets are also customizable with a stamp made with any logo or design, as long as it fits the space on the bracelets. All proceeds of the sales go back into “Teens Mentoring Teens“, a program Denise started six years ago where she takes the kids to Camp Aranzazu. She takes fifteen kids on the autism spectrum and pairs them up with local high school kids acting as their social mentors.
Visit the online Aspire Accessories store and support this wonderful small business. I’m really excited to follow their journey to continued success and can’t wait to see what they have in store for the future!
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