And the Woman Behind the Very Special Gifts Made by Very Special People
by Ellen Linnemann
Photos submitted by Laurie Brown
Laurie Brown moved to South Carolina from Michigan in 2014 armed with more than 29 years of corporate leadership experience in the automobile industry and a dream of starting her own business. Her desire was to create a company that would not only be successful, but could help others, as well. A little over a year later, not only has Laurie achieved exactly what she set out to do, but she has also become a role model for others seeking to enhance the lives of those with disabilities through employment.
Laurie is the founder and owner of Aunt Laurie’s (www.AuntLauries.com), a Bluffton-based national e-retailer committed to helping people with special needs by offering products and gifts made, assembled and/or packaged by clients with disabilities. Bringing her passion for helping individuals with disabilities to life by providing jobs for people with special needs, Laurie oversees all aspects of the business and manages the working relationship with the South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation Department Center in Beaufort.
Each themed gift set made by Aunt Laurie’s has been assembled by people with special needs and contains an assortment of top quality gift products that have been hand-crafted, designed and/or manufactured mostly by small businesses around the country. Since launching the company in March, Laurie has created relationships with organizations nationwide, which employ those with disabilities, including Lambs Farm, Programs for Exceptional People, Extraordinary Ventures, Berry Towne Crafts and Waggies by Maggie and Friends. All of these companies produce gifts used in Aunt Laurie’s unique gift sets.
“I’m thrilled to be offering people nationwide the opportunity to purchase this beautiful assortment of gift items for every occasion while also helping people with special needs, as well,” said Laurie.
Since Laurie launched her national e-commerce site, both the company and product lines have continued to grow. In addition to its traditional gift sets perfect for all occasions, the company is now offering a unique line for the holidays. It recently launched an already-popular “Lowcountry Basket”, filled with a variety of local favorites. Along with other beautiful items, the Lowcountry Basket contains hand printed tiles, dishes and trivets made by clients with disabilities at Programs for Exceptional People, as well as candles hand-poured by clients with autism. In addition to the growing online store, Aunt Laurie’s gift baskets can also be found at many specialty shops throughout the Lowcountry. The company also specializes in providing custom gift sets for both corporate and social events.
“Aunt Laurie’s really is a dream come true for me on so many levels,” notes Laurie, who is proud to be donating a portion of the company’s profits to Leader Dogs for the Blind, an organization that helps empower people who are blind or visually impaired. “Not only have I been able to provide people across the country with a unique, and convenient, way to purchase unique handmade gift sets, but I’m able to offer so many individuals with disabilities the opportunity to learn new skills and, most important of all, to feel valued.”
For more information about Aunt Laurie’s, and for a complete listing and description of Aunt Laurie’s unique gift sets and gift baskets, including their new Lowcountry Basket and line of Holiday Gift Baskets, visit www.AuntLauries.com.