Originally published in Spectrum Local News.

RALEIGH, N.C. – Coffee company Gabi’s Grounds is creating an inclusive workplace and empowering those with special abilities.


What You Need To Know

The company was founded by Gabi Angelini and her mom, Mary, after Gabi says many employers would not hire her because of her Down syndrome.

“They assumed I had a disability, I’m not good at anything,” Gabi Angelini said.

What started out as a coffee company grew to much more, when they realized many of Gabi Angelini’s friends with special abilities also had trouble finding work.

According to the National Association of County Behavioral Health & Developmental Disability Directors (NACBHDD), more than 80% of people with disabilities in the United States are unemployed. Gabi’s Grounds wants to change that.

“I just want to give jobs to my friends because they are really good at their jobs, and they have good experience,” Gabi Angelini said.

They started shipping coffee orders for Gabi’s Grounds inside their family’s garage. But Mary Angelini says during the pandemic she felt called out of her home and into The Loading Dock warehouse, a co-working space in Raleigh.

“I see other companies packaging for other companies, and I’m like, ‘Oh that looks easy.’ So I went to some of the other companies around here and I said, ‘Can we try that?’ and they said, ‘Sure,’” Mary Angelini said.

Now the Gabi’s Grounds staff pairs with other business partners to pack their products for them.

“They are fantastic workers, they are hard workers, they are perfectionists,” Mary Angelini said. “The companies we work for…they rave about our work, about how perfect our boxes are, how the labels are put on perfectly,” she said.

And as the United States continues to face labor shortages countrywide, Mary Angelini is urging more companies to hire people with disabilities.

“These people are ready to be employed, they are sitting at home…and they want to work,” Mary Angelini said.

Gabi’s Grounds has 28 employees so far. Its goal is to employ as many people with special abilities as possible. To do that, they hope other businesses continue to partner with them.

Gabi’s Grounds is shipping orders and packing gift boxes. You can find their products online and at local grocery stores.