COPPERAS COVE, Texas — Nestled in a cul-de-sac in Copperas Cove, you'll find one of the most unique homes in an otherwise ordinary neighborhood. Crystal Owens refers to it as the rainbow house, each piece of wood off the front porch deliberately painted, representing Autism Spectrum Disorder.
"This was all born out of a desire to create a business that we can pass on to our son, Gideon" said Jonathan Owen, when asked about 2E Apothecary, the Owens six month old business run out of their home.
"The reason we wanted to create this is because our son is on the spectrum and when we first found out about this, we found out it's almost a 90% unemployment rate for adults that are on the spectrum," he said.
Gideon is nine years old and is considered, the Owens said, to be twice-exceptional (2E). Gideon has an extremely high IQ and is paired with disabilities, both autism and ADHD.
"2E Apothecary was hugely influenced by Gideon. Our vision is to have a place for people like Gideon to come and have employment where they can let their "quirks" shine," the Owens told 6 News.
Jaw dropping numbers released by Forbes in 2021 show, in black and white, the reality for many autistic adults in the United States:
- Studies estimate that 50 to 75 % of the roughly 5.6 million autistic adults in the U.S. are underemployed or unemployed.
- Nearly half of 25-year-olds with autism have never held a paying job.
- More than 60% of autistic young adults are neither working nor pursuing education/training post-high school in the U.S.
2E Apothecary is a labor of love and more than a passion project for Crystal, it's a hope for a mother who knows all too well the struggle on the spectrum.
"I was not diagnosed with Asperger's until I was an adult and I struggled with employment and there were some cues that I didn't pick up on that most neurotypical people pick up on," Crystal explained."
Crystal, who has overcome more in her life, including cancer three times, doesn't want her son to have the same problems she did growing up.
"While I was able to carve out and navigate my way for a career, a lot of people on the spectrum can't," she said. "Society doesn't care if you're not able to go to work, you still have to be able to pay your way."
Jonathan admitted they've spent hours working a business plan to make this all possible, not only for their son, but others.
"It's something that both Crystal and I lost sleep over and we knew we had to do something to help create a better world for him," he explained. "When we were looking at all the different possibilities we settled on making body products in our home because it's very scientific which is one of Gideon's special interests."
2E Apothecary is a chance to grow, a chance to thrive and an opportunity to be someone in a world that often times moves too fast for any of us. A one-stop shop of hope, if you will, created to meet the self-care needs of those often left behind.
"You're not alone and there is a community out there that cares about you and I do know when you do feel alone you can feel pretty hopeless," Crystal said.
If you are interested in meeting and talking with Crystal and Jonathan, you can send them a message through their website.