Welcome to my ProAutism Company, Tuck’s Tooques, LLC!
I am 19, and I love kayaking, cycling, hiking, camping, music, painting, road-tripping, bowling, and swimming. I am Autistic, but autism does not define me.
Because Autistic people are not always understood, unemployment rates for guys like me hover around 85-95% as adults. So, my dad and I decided to develop what we call a ProAutism business.
We have two goals for Tuck’s Tooques (say "tux toox")
1. Build a meaningful livelihood for an independent young man - I’m developing valuable business skills and creating a long-term future for myself.
and demonstrate - Show Autistic people, and society-at-large, that Autistic people
can lead fulfilling lives.
Sooooo… anyways, “What’s a tooque?”
“Toque” is a term our Canadian friends use to describe winter hats. We added an extra ‘o’ to help our American friends get the pronunciation right.
Tuck's Tooques (again,
"toox") are unique and cozy winter hats which are hand-woven by Himalayan
artisans in Kathmandu, Nepal. Woven from wool, with a microfleece liner,
these colorful hats provide unparalleled warmth and comfort, even
in damp conditions.
How are we doing so far, as a company?
In 2014, we shipped Tuck’s Tooques to 27 states, with sales doubling those of 2012 and 2013, combined. For 2015, we’ve added some great new retailers, and launched a new website.
By the end of October, 2015, we surpassed volume sold and revenue numbers from 2014. This year, we have focused on developing wholesale relationships within the outdoor specialty retail industry, and will continue to do so as our online and direct sales season (fall and winter) ramps up.
In June, 2015, The San Francisco Examiner’s Sierra Review published a gear review of Tuck’s Tooques. Testing was conducted in the Peruvian Andes. “… during the rainy and cold ascent to 15,600 feet on the Santa Cruz Trail he (the author's partner) felt the value of the hat's insulating power, wearing it night and day. After nearing hypothermia at the end of one hiking day, the author was only too happy to don her hat, warming up within minutes.”
Dad and I spent all of 2016 on a coast-to-coast sales and promotional tour of the United States. We logged over 27,000 miles, visiting 29 states and 46 national park units. We spoke about our ProAutism business model to more than 700 people on university and high school campuses, corporate boardrooms, autism organizations, and 1-on-1 with dozens of individuals. We added three new products to our lineup late in the season: the Single Tasker beanie, the Breezy beanie, and Footsies, which are fleece-lined woven-wool footies.
In the first quarter of 2017, sales are nearly double those of 2016. Also, we spoke with over 400 people and are currently scheduling additional presentations throughout the year.
In September 2017, Tuck's Tooques was featured as one of North America's most innovative business models owned and operated by an Autistic person. We were also invited to address the board of directors at Autism Alliance of Michigan to testify as to the viability of business-ownership and community employment for Autistic adults.
But, there’s more to Tuck’s Tooques than selling hats.
Our OuterSelf Initiatives project connects Autistic people with resources in our community. We build relationships.
We envisioned and presented a summer camp concept pairing Autistic and neurotypical peers, in nature. That idea was developed into an award-winning program by our friends at Chippewa Nature Center.
We hosted a parent workshop with Autism Alliance of Michigan, to help families better understand changing Autism health insurance laws in our state.
Through Saginaw Valley State University's College of Health and Human Services Department, we established a fitness program for Autistic teens.
Dad also serves as a Parent Advisor to KAMPN4Autism, in Boone, North Carolina. KAMPN operates an Autism family camp, which enjoys a great connection with Appalachian State University. http://kampn4autism.appstate.edu/
KAMPN has initiated an innovative new project, called KAMPN LIFE Village. The goal for this project is to develop a sustainable residential community for Autistic and similarly-affected adults. https://www.facebook.com/KAMPNLIFEVillage
You can be a part of our success story!
Please share our story with your local outdoor outfitter. Retailers currently carrying Tuck’s Tooques feature premium outdoor brands such as Patagonia, Deuter, Granite Gear, Sherpa, The North Face, Arc'teryx, Mountain Hardwear, MSR, Merrell, Osprey, and many others.
We encourage our retailers to support a local autism organization – either financially, or by supporting autism-friendly outdoor activities. So, by introducing them to Tuck’s Tooques, you not only support a young Autistic entrepreneur, but also Autistic people in your own community.