We had the good fortune of connecting with Amy Lunstra and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Amy, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I was a teacher. I taught for 10 years in Denver Public Schools at Traylor Academy. I then used my other degree and taught high school students with IDD (Intellectual &/or Developmental Disabilitiy) at ThunderRidge High School. That is when my life’s purpose changed. I had the privilege of having my high school students with IDD for 4 years. So, friendships were developed with the most amazing families. Talk about resilience! I have two sons and they do not have IDD, I thought my parenting took grace and patience. I soon realized that the families I supported were true life warriors! As my friendships with families grew, they started voicing their concerns about what they were going to do after their child was through the public school system, which was when they turned 21. Many adults with IDD attend day programs for a portion of their week. However, it is up to parents/guardians to find the program that will be the best fit for their adult they are supporting. They pointed out that there was not a day program in Highlands Ranch and they would have to go to Castle Rock, Littleton, Centennial, Denver, etc. to get the daytime support their adult needed. In my opinion, parents were back to the drawing board, similar to when they received the news that their child had IDD/Special Needs. As most of the general public is preparing for their typical children to “leave the nest” and need less support, families of adults with IDD are getting ready for round 2…preparing for support into adulthood. Parents/Guardians become the pilot for their now, “adult child’s” future.
Fast forward 4 years, I knew I wanted to do something to support adults with special needs in our community, Highlands Ranch. However, I wasn’t sure what that was going to look like. My students had an incredibly positive impact in my life. Whatever I decided to do, I knew I needed to strive towards what my students and their families gave me. Then in 2020, the pandemic hit, the owners of Festive Cup Coffee & Boutique approached me. Their daughter had been in my high school program for 5 years, so they were aware of what I was dreaming to do. They were looking to retire, needed someone to take over their shop, and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I now knew how our community was going to support adults with IDD!
Here I am…a teacher for the past twenty years and I knew nothing about running a business, especially during a pandemic!! I took the first few months to get acquainted with business ownership, it’s just a bit different than teaching, LOL! Through the Grace of God, help from family/friends, and the support of the community, we survived the pandemic. Then, in January of 2021 we hired our first employee with IDD and determined how we wanted to structure our plan for hiring more adults with IDD.
We now employ 12 adults with IDD! The adults we support earn at least minimum wage and an equal share of the tips that are received. Our goal/mission is to have the adults with IDD partner with an employee without IDD and progress towards independence in the different aspects of their job/life.
We are in the process of acquiring nonprofit status as a PASA (Program Approved Service Agency). Our nonprofit is named after the previous owners of Festive Cup, Dawn & Tony Whitham. The nonprofit is named: WHIT- Working Hard Independently & Together. The long term plan is to have a location in Highlands Ranch that houses many new employment opportunities and services for adults with IDD in our community.
I couldn’t do this without help from the community: Developmental Pathways, Brynn with Stepping Stones Support Center, Tiffany with Brewability & Pizzability, our fabulous staff, and countless parents of adults with IDD.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Festive Cup Coffee & Boutique is just that, a coffee shop, where you connect with people over a craft coffee AND a boutique, where you can purchase something for ANYONE in your life. Our coffee shop & boutique just happens to employ people with and without IDD (Intellectual and/or Developmental Disability).
WHY: I taught high school students with IDD for 8 years at ThunderRidge High School in Highlands Ranch. As I built friendships with the parents of my students they expressed their concern over what their child would do after the age of 21, as the public school system supports students with IDD to the age of 21. After the age of 21, many families look to day programs for some support durning the week for their adult child with IDD. There are many great day programs that support adults with special needs (IDD) in surrounding areas, but there is not one in Highlands Ranch. Many of these programs support adults with IDD in the community, with their life skills, and experience in different vocations. We are a bit different in that the adults we support are employees and they earn at least minimum wage, plus an equal share in the tips received through the coffee shop. We see the possibility of growing and providing more employment opportunities for people with and without IDD.
I am excited for the possibilities as we grow! We hope to provide more paid employment opportunities for adults with IDD in our community. In the future, I see us in a location in Highlands Ranch that “SCREAMS” community and is set up similar to the Dairy Block in Denver or The Denver Central Market in RiNo. This is where we would offer a variety of services and experiences for our community, all while providing MEANINGFUL employment for adults with and without IDD. For example, a possibility for growth is that we will have our own equipment to roast coffee for our shop. We also know how important it is too give back and hope to support adults with IDD volunteer in the Denver Metro area.
My degree in is elementary education and special education. So, the biggest hurdle for me throughout this process has been learning how to be a small business owner. Festive Cup Coffee & Boutique is like 2 businesses in one. We have the coffee shop side and the boutique side. What I underestimated was the social media side, that’s another job on it’s own and one of my friends is doing it for me out of the goodness of her heart. I am also in the process of starting a nonprofit PASA (Program Approved Service Agency). By doing so, we could provide more opportunities for adults with IDD in our community with a little help from donations and volunteers.
We want the world to know that we can do so much more TOGETHER! We want people of all abilities to work if they would want to, AND provide the necessary support for people with and without IDD to be as independent as possible.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
What I wouldn’t give for a week in the summer with one of my besties!!! I live in Littleton, so we would definitely live it up!! We’d of course start off each day with a coffee from Festive Cup!
Day 1: Shopping in Downtown Littleton, we’d hit Giggleblossom, Conservatrice Flower Shop and Boutique, Colorado Frame Co, White Oak and Rooted Boutique, Details Boutique, Angel Concept, and The Painted Estate. We’d have dinner at Terracotta and finish off the evening at Kate’s Wine Bar.
Day 2: We would start the day with breakfast at Bacon Social in Littleon, We’d then head up to vail and bike down vail pass. We’d drive back down to Denver and go to RiNo take in the breweries and have dinner at one of the unique food trucks.
Day 3: A little shopping in Castle Rock at The Barn Antiques and Specialty Shops. Then, we’d get ready for a Concert at Red Rocks! However, we’d have some delicious eats at Hungry Goat Scratch Kitchen and Wine Bar in Morrison before hand.
Day 4: Picnic and 8 mile hike on Beaver Brooke Trail
Day 5: A little shopping and coffee at Festive Cup Coffee & Boutique. Then, lunch next door at The Sportsbook (Totchos for me!) After lunch, we’d take a little walk on the Highline Canal Trail. Then, we’d need to get all dolled up for dinner downtown at Blue Agave Grill with one of their AMAZING margaritas before seeing a show at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.
Day 6: WATER WORLD & dinner at the fabulous Brewability & Pizzability!!!
Day 7: A day in Estes Park – drive the the national park, take a small hike, shop in downtown Estes and then eat dinner at Bird & Jim’s before heading home…maybe even stay a night at the Stanley Hotel.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
The people and businesses below gave their time to meet with me and offered a much needed sounding board. I am forever grateful!
My Staff at Festive Cup!! They have been supportive, resilient, and continue to grow with me. I could not do any of this without them!
Our Customers!! Holy cats, we have the BEST customers! They continue to support our mission and utilize our space to connect with friends and businesses, which is all we can ask for!
ILC – Integrated Life Choices, specifically Sarah Arnold, has supported me through understanding the process of getting set up as a job coach
Developmental Pathways: Provided a Meet & Connect with the CEO, Matt VanAuken, conversations for change. Festive Cupb also received grants from Developmental Pathways, which enabled us to keep our doors open and support individuals with IDD who wanted to work.
Byn B. co-founder of Stepping Stones Community Center for adults with developmental disabilities: mentored me in setting up my nonprofit PASA (Program Approved Service Agency)
Tiffany F. founder of Brewability & PIzzability: mentored me as an employer for adults with IDD
Tall Tales Ranch: provided a few 1:1 sit down with me throughout our growth.
Northwest Douglas County Chamber & EDC: provides networking and supports/promotes my mission, as well as business guidance.
Jenn founder of Outliving with Jenn: mentored me in setting up the nonprofit PASA
Businesses in our shopping center: They have been extremely supportive (The Sportsbook bar & grill, Purity Skin Studio, Honey B Macorons, Excel Taekwondo, Reinholtz Family Chiropractic, P.C., Razz-Ma-Tazz Hair Design Salon, Cozy Nails, Highlands Ranch Animal Clinic, & USPS Post office/Wild Rose Boutique)
FRIENDS & Family!!! My husband & two boys, Julie Gooden, Mitzi Townshend, Ruth Newell, Dawn Sullivan
Facebook: Festive Cup Coffee and Gift Boutique
Yelp: Festive Cup Coffee and Boutique