Wasatch Student With Autism Creates Booming Business With Help From A Teacher

A Wasatch High Student with a special talent has turned his skills into a thriving business, thanks to the help of a caring teacher.

“Between five and 10.” Ben said, “I started in eighth grade.”

Ben has autism, he also has a good friend in his teacher Ms. Lindsey Jacobson. She noticed Ben’s creations and had an idea.

“He is in my co-taught U.S. History class. He and I started working together in that class and he’s always knitting so I said ‘hey, you’re always knitting these hats can I buy one from you?’ and said ‘sure’ and I said’ well how much?’ he said, ‘how much do you think?’ I said ‘I don’t know $10? $15?’ he said $15. I literally wrote him a check and took the hat and then I went home, and I thought oh my gosh, this kid makes so many hats that we could sell them. I said to him next time I saw him, I said do you want to start a business? Do you want to start selling these hats? And he said yes.”

Ms. Jacobson said that from there the business took off.

“He gave them to me, I put them on Facebook and they were sold in hours. He has sold over 40 hats, I have given him check for I think about $800. He has a waiting list of 51 people who want hats right now. People are sending in donations through Venmo for yarn for him, just contributions for his business. It’s been unbelievable.”

Ben says he looks forward to expanding his business.

“I’m planning on making it a business. It’s very exciting. They like my hats, I’m very proud.”

Ben also says he is grateful for Ms. Jacobson’s help.

“I like that she helps me. She helps me a lot”

Ms. Jacobson says that she’s also had a good time working with Ben on the hats.

“I think people are really drawn to the idea that a kid in the face of a disability is making something that is so—I can’t think of another word but—adorable and fun to have. I think people are super excited to support a kid who is starting a business and it’s taking off. Maybe they see how excited he is. I post comments that he’s made it’s been really fun. People have kind of exceeded my expectations. Actually, the first time I posted a picture was with me with my hat on. The $15 hat that I bought. I said, one of my students make these hats and I was his first customer. I wasn’t trying to sell anything. People said I’ll take one, I’ll take two, I’ll take five, I’ll take 10.”

Ben also gets help from his younger brother Samuel. He’s made a good amount of money so far.

“$800. I’m saving it for a blue car, a blue Chevy.”

Part of his success stems from his optimistic nature.

The interesting thing about Ben—and I think I’ve posted this about him too and people are really drawn to that—is the fact that he is always happy. Kind to everyone, always smiling, will answer anyone’s questions. People are very nice to Ben. Ben’s pretty popular here everyone kind of knows who he is, and they’ll say hi to him in the hall. He’s outgoing, he’s kind, he’s friendly always. I’ve never seen him upset. I’ve never seen him down. I’ve never seen him shy away from a conversation with anybody. He’s quite amazing.”

Crocheting hats has been therapeutic for Ben.

“It calms me down and makes me happy.”

Ms. Jacobson also recognizes how important making hats is for Ben.

“Kids in special ed have a transition plan and it’s like what are you going to do when you graduate high school? What’s your job going to be? How are you going to make money? There’re so many kids that can’t get a decent paying job because of their disability. He could potentially make this a job. I choke up. I choke up every time I talk about it because it’s just the coolest thing.

Ben has one final message to his customers.

“Thank you for buying my hats.”

That’s Ben Miller, an autistic student at Wasatch High School. The business has grown so much that Ms. Jacobson has stepped aside, and Ben’s family has expanded the business. Ben’s Custom Hats, you can order a hat by emailing [email protected], or calling 435-654-1744

Heber Valley Artisan Cheese held their 2nd annual Ice Sculptures Exhibition this weekend. Several local businesses sponsored the sculptures being displayed. There were also two different ice carving demonstrations. The event was free to the public.

The annual event began last year when Carolee Kohler saw ice sculpting on a Hallmark movie and thought it would be a fun idea for their farm. They are also considering a woodcarving event.

According to Lindsey Strother, social media and events coordinator, each sculpture takes between 1-3 hours to carve. “We contacted Amazing Ice Creations back in November, and we reached out to local companies to sponsor the ice sculptures,” she said. “Yesterday morning around 9 am, they came in a massive truck and dropped them all off for us, and we set them up.”

Along with the ice sculptures, sponsors receive a sign and canopy for the display and social media marketing. The sponsors decide what they want to have sculpted. After the event, they can take the ice sculptures and display them at their businesses. The creations normally last a couple of weeks. Some will be left in the field and can be viewed throughout the week.

The ice this year included Olaf, company logos, animals, and other items. Darron Kingston, the sculptor, has carved ice for over 10 years with his dad. According to Kingston, “I like sculptures that give me a challenge. Here, for example, my favorite was the lumberjack.” One of his favorite past creations was a 9-foot bear.

Grant Kohler, owner of Heber Valley Artisan Cheese, explained, “We decided to do something that was free and something that people could just get out and come and enjoy. Especially this year with Covid, it seems like Januarys are slow months. People are looking for things to be able to get outside and do.” He continued, “Businesses pay in and buy the sculptures, we have them sculpted, and then we just let people come and enjoy them.” Kohler estimated around 3,000 to 4,000 people will stop by the event.

The dairy farm also offers cheese-making classes and tours of their new robotic barn. “The tours are everyday except Sunday,” according to Kohler. “People hayride over, intermingle with the cows, see the barn and amenities, and watch the cows be milked. The cows will literally go get milked on their own.” Tickets for the tours and other events are available on the Heber Valley Artisan Cheese website: https://hebervalleyartisancheese.com/.