Kayla the owner and founder of new boutique 279 has Down Syndrome. Down Syndrome is a genetic condition caused by the presence of an additional chromosome. Like all children, children born with Down Syndrome will grow up to have varied interests, abilities and needs. For Kayla who turns 24 years old this year one of her big interests is beauty, and she plans on turning it into a business. Together with her mother and fellow small business owner Nicky she is achieving independence with her range of beauty products and jewellery at her store 279 in Bowral, NSW.
We chatted to Kayla’s mum about supporting her daughter’s journey for independence, fostering confidence in differently abled children and adults, and celebrating creativity.
Kayla’s proud mum Nicky said the idea for 279 came about because she was frustrated by the roadblocks she saw Kayla encountering and she tried to achieve financial independence.
“Kayla is about to turn 24 but she started making candles about six years ago. We both felt it was high time she started doing something – at the time Kayla wasn’t receiving payments from Centrelink as a differently abled adult. When we applied they actually asked me when Kayla’s condition would go away! I was shocked. I wanted Kayla to feel independent, as any young person in their late teens and early twenties should feel. I thought instead of handing out money for her daily activities she could earn it, like other young people her age.”
Kayla, who is incredibly enterprising, had already been making candles for six years as a hobby. She and her mother agreed it might be time to take her creative talents and passion for beauty into business.
“I helped her organize her supplies and our journey began. At first we sold her products out of my store. It wasn’t necessarily a natural fit – I own a pop culture store! However there was a huge amount of interest in Kayla’s products and they flew off the shelves. Some of those first customer’s from my store are still regulars at 279.
Eventually the shop next door to us came up for rent and we decided it was time. This became 279, Kayla now sells her candles here as well as her “MissK” beauty range – she has bath salts, body scrubs, lip balms and Magnesium sprays. She also sells art, glassware and jewelry here. All of Kayla’s candles and beauty products are natural and bespoke free from pesticides and herbicides and eco-friendly from the product to the packaging.
The Future of 297
Kayla’s mum says that the responsibility and creativity involved with running her own business has transformed Kayla’s confidence. 279 has been open for a few weeks and Kayla is still adjusting to the highs and lows of the retail world. Nicky confesses her daughters disappointment on slow days “breaks my heart”. “I have had my own business for fifteen years now, but when your special, or even just young, it’s tough.”
Luckily Kayla is a natural at social media and she and her mother are working hard to raise her profile. Kayla’s mum hopes that if the 279 business proves a success they will be able to employ and showcase other different abled young people in their community. She would love to be able to give other young people like Kayla the opportunity to showcase their creativity and entrepreneurial spirit.
Nicky reflects “there are so many challenges to running a business, but the main thing is you have to love what you do – if you don’t you’ll never succeed!” Lucky passion is something Kayla has in spades. We can’t wait to see where this young beauty entrepreneur goes next!
279 is located in Bowral 279 Bong Bong St Bowral, NSW 2576
Opening hours are Tuesday-Friday: 10am-5pm and Saturday 10am-4.30pm