Be­ing the light: Cal­houn res­i­dent brings hope to oth­ers through t-shirt busi­ness Can­didly Kind

Calhoun Times - - GORDONLIFE -

first shirt through Can­didly Kind in March of this year. Grace’s first tee fea­tured a light bulb paint­ing that she had com­pleted with the caption, “Be the Light.”

“We ended up putting a make- shift stu­dio in our base­ment,” said Car­rie. “There’s a ta­ble where she paints and all of her paint­ings are stored there. So, when­ever she wants to paint, she goes to her stu­dio. The first tshirt idea, Grace went online and re­searched light bulbs and picked one she liked. Then, I reached out to Robin Profitt; Grace took her pic­tures to Robin and Robin helped her with her first paint­ing,” said Car­rie. “Grace did that paint­ing in the fall of 2017 but the t- shirts didn’t come to fruition un­til March, when we re­leased them on World Down Syn­drome Day on March 21. We re­leased them for pre- or­der at that time.”

Dur­ing the time since the first re­lease, busi­ness has boomed for Grace and Can­didly Kind. Her sec­ond t- shirt re­lease is af­fec­tion­ately known as “Lemon­ade,” with a glass of lemon­ade that Grace painted with the caption, “I made lemon­ade.”

“We’ve shipped across the coun­try and in­ter­na­tion­ally,” said Car­rie. And the “Lemon­ade” paint­ing was so pop­u­lar that it was pur­chased by some­one in Ohio.

The duo ex­pects the next t- shirt to be re­leased later this month, but in the mean­time have re­leased Can­didly Kind logo mer­chan­dise in­clud­ing t- shirts and caps that are al­ready in the works.

The busi­ness has caught the at­ten­tion of many world- wide. Grace re­cently sat down with a Chat­tanooga, Tenn. news sta­tion for an in­ter­view and now looks for­ward to a fea­ture to be pro­duced out of Europe.

“We have been com­mu­ni­cat­ing with Bar­croft Me­dia out of the UK for them to do a fea­ture on Grace and Can­didly Kind,” said Car­rie. “They con­tacted us after see­ing the Can­didly Kind In­sta­gram page . Bar­croft Me­dia is an in­ter­na­tional me­dia agency based in Lon­don. They pro­duce short form doc­u­men­taries for dis­tri­bu­tion to global news out­lets. They spe­cial­ize in re­al­life sto­ries and cover a wide- range of sub­jects with con­trib­u­tors across the world. The fea­ture will ini­tially be shared on their YouTube chan­nel Bar­croft TV - which cur­rently has 5 mil­lion sub­scribers - and then they will share it with global news out­lets. We have done a writ­ten in­ter­view with them and are set for a phone in­ter­view soon. They will then hire a lo­cal videog­ra­pher and come to our home and do the footage and on- film in­ter­views for the story.”

In ad­di­tion to online sales, the t- shirts are also sell­ing at a few lo­cal re­tail es­tab­lish­ments.

“We are re­ally blessed with the sup­port,” said Car­rie. “RAK sup­ports Grace and puts the t- shirts in their stores; then the other bou­tiques, Rusty Zip­per ( in Cal­houn) and Whis­tle Britches carry them. It’s nice that they’re out there in re­tail stores.”

The busi­ness is a true fam­ily af­fair. Tanna Key, Grace’s old­est sis­ter, built the web­site can­did­lykind. com, and Grace’s fa­ther, Dan, and sis­ter, Kara, have also had in­put in the busi­ness. As far as the day- to- day and ship­ping, Grace and Car­rie han­dle those du­ties.

“So far, Grace in­cludes a note with ev­ery or­der,” said Car­rie. “She knows all the in­sand- outs of print­ing the la­bels. As a mat­ter of fact, she went into the bank the other day and took her ( busi­ness) de­posit in­side and made it.”

The best part of the busi­ness for the moth- er and daugh­ter is the abil­ity to pay it for­ward.

“To be able to send money to or­ga­ni­za­tions that em­brace ac­cep­tance if a great thing,” said Car­rie. “The vi­sion of Can­didly Kind is to spread Light, Love and Ac­cep­tance. A per­cent­age of prof­its from the first t- shirts went to Ruby’s Rain­bow, and we are still ac­cu­mu­lat­ing prof­its for them. Ruby’s Rain­bow gives schol­ar­ships to peo­ple with Down Syn­drome. In just over three years, they have given more than $ 600,000 in schol­ar­ships to peo­ple with Down Syn­drome to be able to at­tend col­lege pro­grams. Grace is now say­ing she wants to go to col­lege, so we may ap­ply to a cou­ple this com­ing year. I just have a lot of re­spect for Ruby’s Rain­bow. For the sec­ond t- shirt do­na­tion, we re­searched or­ga­ni­za­tions that try to com­bat bul­ly­ing in schools and com­mu­ni­ties and we chose The Kind Cam­paign, which was started by two girls who went to Pep­per­dine together; it’s an or­ga­ni­za­tion that works to com­bat girl against girl bul­ly­ing, which is a big prob­lem.”

And just last week, Grace learned that she has been nom­i­nated for Cham­pion of the Year for the state of Ge­or­gia for Best Bud­dies.

“Best Bud­dies is a non- profit or­ga­ni­za­tion, founded by An- thony Shriver in 1989, whose mis­sion is in­clu­sion, friend­ship, lead­er­ship and in­te­grated em­ploy­ment for peo­ple with in­tel­lec­tual and de­vel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ties,” said Car­rie of the or­ga­ni­za­tion that lines up per­fectly with Can­didly Kind. “We’re hop­ing to grow the busi­ness more; the goal for us is to grow to where we can em­ploy other peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties just be­cause I know first­hand how hard it is ( for those with dis­abil­i­ties) to find gain­ful em­ploy­ment. That would be awe­some.”

“There is a gala in Novem­ber at the World Congress Cen­ter in At­lanta and they will an­nounce the Cham­pion; Best Bud­dies is an amaz­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion and well re­spected,” said Car­rie.

Cham­pion of the Year can­di­dates are se­lected based on their in­di­vid­ual, pro­fes­sional and phil­an­thropic achieve­ments. Can­di­dates must be com­pas­sion­ate, so­cially ac­tive and pas­sion­ate about mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in the lives of peo­ple with in­tel­lec­tual and de­vel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ties.

“I love be­ing able to paint and do my t- shirts and share ac­cep­tance with my com­mu­nity and the world,” said Grace.

Can­didly Kind can be found on Face­book and In­sta­gram or by vis­it­ing can­did­lykind. com.

CON­TRIB­UTED PHO­TOS

ABOVE: Grace Key paints and de­signs in her own stu­dio, lo­cated in the base­ment of her home. BE­LOW: The in­spi­ra­tion for the sec­ond t-shirt re­lease by Can­didly Kind, “I made Lemon­ade.”

CON­TRIB­UTED PHO­TOS

ABOVE: Be­ing the Light- Grace Key in the first t-shirt she cre­ated for her busi­ness, Can­didly Kind. BE­LOW: The tag that is put on each t-shirt that is or­dered and shipped by Grace.

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