Hunter Abeyta, 15, loves to hang with his friends, romp with his dog, Willow, and groove to the sounds of American rock bands Maroon 5 and Imagine Dragons.
Hunter also loves creating fragrant bath materials through an artistic outlet his family set up as a way for him to explore his creativity. However, what began as a personal creative outlet has evolved into a family-owned and operated business that employs disabled Coloradans.
Hunter’s Hope Soaps & Scrubs produces aromatic soaps, scrubs and candles created solely by developmentally and intellectually disabled Rockrimmon residents, Hunter included. Hunter is the product of Attention Deficit Disorder and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, two well-known conditions that can alter normal mental function.
A sophomore at Coronado High School, Hunter is on a mission to employ more of these disabled citizens, said his mom Dawn Detwiler-Abeyta. “Having a son who is developmentally disabled has allowed us the opportunity to celebrate uniqueness,” Dawn said. “Hunter enjoys the creative process of helping make soaps and sugar scrubs.”
Many of Hunter’s friends assist him with his work and he hopes to build on this team effort, he said. “My mom and I started making them for fun. Then we decided this could be something fun to do with my friends,” Hunter said of his soap and scrub creations.
Hunter works chiefly in his parents’ kitchen where he creates stews of tantalizing fragrances offering an aromatic treat for anyone who has a nose. “We make most things in the kitchen, but sometimes there is stuff all over the house,” Hunter said.
Each product is designed and scented to celebrate the individuality of its respective creator. Soaps ranging from green shamrocks to pink hearts and yellow flowers are created here. Scents range from vanilla caramel bath bomb; pumpkin vanilla bath salt and lavender bath soap to autumn soap blend, and cinnamon, apple cider, orange and strawberry sugar scrubs.
Other fragrances include coffee, coconut, coconut lemongrass, coconut lime, cranberry spice, creamsicle, cucumber melon, gardenia, gingerbread, grapefruit, jasmine, lavender, lemon, lime, mango, merry mistletoe, oatmeal, ocean breeze, peppermint, sandalwood and watermelon.
Hunter’s parents pay for and order all materials, he said. Pieces vary in color, shape and size, and range in price from $5 to $15. “The soaps and candles take the longest because they have to get hard. The sugar scrubs and bath bombs are a lot faster to do,” Hunter said.
A family affair, Hunter’s dad, John, handles all the heavy lifting at craft fairs, assists with packaging and offers input on fragrances. Hunter’s brothers also help; Tristan, 20, handles accounting and Dalton, 26, assists with social media chores. Dalton’s fiancée, Amber Rea, helped launch the business and assists with craft fairs and social media.
Dawn, who supervises the operation, said, “We strive to give back to the community by introducing our soap and other bath and body products, making skills to groups of children and young adults with special needs.”
Those who know Hunter probably would agree the petite, 5-foot-4 teenager possesses a keen business acumen, takes himself lightly and his craft seriously. “I’m a good friend, and my mom says that I’m very sweet and pretty funny, too,” Hunter said.
Following high school Hunter plans to enter the Transition Program, a program that works with special education students aged 18 to 22 and supports their growth into adulthood. As for future business plans, Hunter hopes to have all his friends working with him, he said.
Hunter’s family enjoys supporting the teenager in his endeavor, Dawn said.
“Not only has it given him a sense of responsibility, but it has reinforced the value of hard work,” Dawn said. “It has also allowed him to incorporate skills from his therapies into his everyday life.”
Hunter’s Hope Soaps & Scrubs’ customers include Ashley’s Attic, Captivate Beauty Salon, Ladyfingers Press, Le Reve Salon, Penrose-St. Francis gift shops and Twisted Wardrobe. The business also has worked with Social Thinking Groups at Straka Speech in Castle Rock and at Coronado High School’s Life Skills class.
“We have some interest with some younger kids, elementary age, so we are excited to bring them on board,” Dawn said. “As our company grows we feel we can open more doors to people with challenges in our area.”