Truly Scrumptious by Alexa

All baking done in home-based kitchen in Roslyn, New York (Long Island, NY)
https://www.trulyscrumptiousbyalexa.com/
info@trulyscrumptiousbyalexa.com

“Delicious custom chocolate covered treats for all occasions including chocolate covered Oreos, s’mores, graham crackers, cake pops and more. Ability to put company logo or any logo on most creations for corporate events, wedding, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs and more.”

From the Website:

“Ability, not Disability….no limits for me! Since the day I was born I have been conquering obstacles. My name is Alexa. I am a unique entrepreneur because I have Down Syndrome, which is a part of me but does not define or limit me. I have always dreamed about running my own business and now my dream is a reality. From a young age, I enjoyed baking and decorating desserts to make people happy and smile. I started Truly Scrumptious by Alexa by making delicious custom chocolate covered treats for all occasions. My family and friends loved them so much that they asked me to make them for their special events. It all started with a bowl of melted chocolate and an Oreo! Today I am making all sorts of custom designed treats like chocolate covered Oreos, s’mores, cake pops and more. I can even put your company logo on my creations for corporate events. What an incredible feeling to see the look on people’s faces when they bite into a “Truly Scrumptious” treat. “

In the Media:

https://howardblas.com/2020/07/27/tikvah-impact-alexa-chalup/ (podcast)
https://howardblas.com/2020/03/02/tikvah-voc-ed-history-all-the-way-to-alexa/

The Visit:

I have known Alexa for many years as she has been a participant in many of our Camp Ramah in New England and National Ramah programs. Currently, Alexa participates in the vocational training program at Camp Ramah in New England. Families of young adults with disabilities all give a great deal of thought to what “comes next” after graduation from high school. Her mom, Carrie notes that Alexa recently turned 21 and worried about Alexa “falling off the cliff,” a term used by many parents of young adults with disabilities to describe the predicament when there are no longer services guaranteed and provided post-graduation. Alexa therefore became founder “chief employee” of Truly Scrumptious by Alexa.

“I love baking. I used to help my mom cook and bake and liked to help. I would come home from school and bake brownies. I learned to make cupcakes and mini bundt cakes on my own, and chocolate chip cookies,” Alexa reports. Alexa adds, “I love chocolate covered Oreos. I eat them in a heartbeat!”

Alexa took her love for chocolate to a new level when she made 250 cake pops in the colors of Roslyn (the local) High School for her brother’s graduation. They were very well received and people began calling with additional baking requests.

The Chalups report that Alexa initially started baking for fun, but the business continues to grow and evolve. They have purchased a special color printer for printing logos on her baked goods, and she has the support of community habilitation workers. Mother Carrie helps (i.e. cutting complex patterns), and reports, “I am hard on her,” meaning she stresses the need for a very clean work environment and for Alexa to put her hair up in a ponytail while working. The two have hired other young adults with disabilities on occasion, though they have cut back on hiring outside help during the recent Covid pandemic.

Alexa’s parents are proud of her and note that they took Alexa’s interest and helped her develop it. “The ball was rolling so we went with it. She had momentum and we had momentum. That’s how it came about.” Mom notes, “It makes Alexa feel good.” She adds, “society labels you as disabled. Why do you need to feel disabled?”

I observed Alexa carefully and patiently taking out ingredients from the cupboard, setting up her work station, and making chocolate covered oreos. I also viewed various products about to be packaged and shipped. According to the website, approximate pricing is as follows:

  • 12 Oreos on a plate for $38
  • 12 chocolate covered s’mores on a plate for $62
  • 12 chocolate covered Graham crackers for $54 (prices do not include shipping)

Lessons Learned/Challenges/Advice:

  1. It is extremely important to have the support of the community, family and friends. This helps to promote the business.
  2. Let your child with special needs have dreams and help them to achieve them. It isn’t easy, but it can be done.
  3. Support the business, but continue to teach and let the person with special needs continue to learn all parts of the business.
  4. Try to keep your costs as low as possible, buy supplies wholesale and try not to make mistakes in production, take your time.
  5. Time management is important, as Alexa gets tired or overwhelmed when she has a lot of orders.
  6. Supporting Alexa with her company with Com Hab workers has been extremely helpful.

Mom also stresses the need to “help kids become employable.” This sometimes involves telling them “negative things and not just feel good things.” She notes the importance of sharing honest feedback. For example, she may say, “Alexa that doesn’t look good!” “We need to set the bar higher for people with disabilities so they can be more successful in the workplace!”

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