If you breezed into One For All, modestly tucked away in the Feather Hill Plaza in Southold, you might think it was like a lot of other shops offering jewelry, candles, art, dry goods, coffee, and the like.
You would be wrong.
Every single vendor at One For All, a store started by the mother and son team of Theresa and Sean DeMarco, is neurodiverse—a term that acknowledges that the artisans are differently abled, formerly known as developmentally disabled or special needs.
The high-quality soaps are created by Spencer Kelly, who has Asperger’s. The scented candles are from New York City’s Extraordinary Ventures which provides “meaningful employment for individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities.” And Gracie’s Doggie Delights come from the loving hands of a young woman with Down Syndrome.
The eye-catching animal art that adorns the walls—a hummingbird, a goat, a sheep, all signed simply “Blake”—are from the brushes of 26-year-old Blake Henkel, who has autism, the same diagnosis as Sean DeMarco.
In fact, it was Sean’s idea to start the store, said Theresa DeMarco. “Sean came up with the idea once the pandemic shut down the venues where he was going to sell his professionally framed posters,” she says. He sensed that there were other neurodiverse entrepreneurs who might be experiencing the same challenges. So the DeMarcos jumped into the retail game in January.
“Sean came up the name One For All because he knew he and other individuals like him have to stick together,” Theresa DeMarco continues. “We came up with the motto ‘A shared space with a shared purpose.’ I suggested we use a dandelion for our brand because of our lovely history—Sean would always gift me a dandelion whenever he would spot one in the grass. The dandelion is also symbolic because, while some people view it as a weed, it is actually a very important plant offering many important benefits. Likewise, the potential and value of our community is often overlooked, so it felt like the perfect symbol to represent our shop,” she says.
And so, the search was on for differently-abled vendors. “I began the search with Mark Cronin of John’s Crazy Socks, as he is a leader in our community and knew of many young people with Down Syndrome who have their own businesses,” Theresa DeMarco says. “I also pulled names from the database of autism-owned businesses maintained by Autism Speaks and began to reach out to them to share our idea. The majority of businesses I spoke with were excited to join us.” The store also carries items from the local South Fork Bakery, known for employing those who are neurodivergent.
According to Theresa DeMarco, there are only two other stores like this in the United States. “Both Sean and I would like to see greater inclusion of small businesses like ours and the merchants we represent. We hope to encourage more young people who are not sure of the direction they will take after leaving school to pursue entrepreneurship as a possible path,” she says.
But for now, the community reaction to One For All has been “touching,” she says. “The artisans have been overjoyed at the fact that their items are at a shop like ours. They feel proud and support us through social media.” And the shoppers? “Many customers stumble into the shop without knowing our back story. Once they walk around and read the stories that accompany the items they are incredulous. They leave feeling so good about their purchase knowing they are supporting some amazing people,” she says with a smile.
But even without knowing the backstory, the products speak for themselves, DeMarco adds. “The items for sale are highly giftable and should be, and could be, in many shops alongside neurotypical businesses. We are blessed to be in a position where we can elevate these amazing entrepreneurs and social enterprises and begin to change the mindset of the greater public in realizing the potential in everyone,” she says.
For more information, visit oneforallgifts.com or follow on Instagram at @oneforallgifts.