Since establishing her online microbusiness, Graces-handmade-cards, last year, the 18-year-old has designed more than 300 candles for local families, schools and parishes, as well as dozens of homemade cards.
Mum Monica Kwan, who attends Our Lady of Dolours Church in the Emmaus parish, said she couldn’t be prouder of her daughter and her achievements.
“We knew that after Grace left school at Cabra her job options would be almost non-existent as she has Down syndrome and significant visual and hearing impairments,” Monica explained.
“She is very arty and so we thought that this business opportunity would be a perfect way for her to have a job and be creative.”
Initially Grace began making greeting cards – some using digital means, others being stamped with Monica’s assistance – and she then decided to put her hand to designing religious candles.
“We experimented and experimented and failed and failed so many times,” said Monica of their attempts to find the best way to transfer Grace’s designs onto the pre-purchased plain candles.
Eventually they found a solution and since then Grace has filled orders for confirmation, baptism, graduation, prayer table and thank-you candles from many individuals and Catholic schools.
By far the largest order received was for 175 graduation candles for Cabra Dominican College.
“We had candles sitting on every spare space in our house, they were just everywhere,” said Monica.
Continuing to look at different ways to use her artistic talents, Grace has now perfected a biodegradable posy of ‘chocolate flowers’ and is also learning how to etch glass.
Grace said her “mission” was to grow her business so that “one day I can employ someone else who has a disability”.
Currently she donates 20 per cent of profits to Tutti Arts, a not for profit organisation that provides an art and music program for people with disabilities.
Grace said she would welcome enquiries from parishioners and Catholic schools that may be interested in learning more about the items she has for sale. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.