The Lyons opened SammySocks Etc. on Sept. 1, an online-only shop that specializes in the sale of men's, women's and children's socks. The business endeavor, more than three years in the making, was born out of providing employment opportunities to their son, Samuel.
Samuel has autism, and there are limited employment opportunities for him, his mother said. In creating SammySocks Etc., the Lyons said they hope their business can provide a safe space for their son to work and expand upon his skills. By extension, they hope their business can also provide employment resources to other adults with autism in the future, crafting up a space for all employees to feel welcomed.
"We want to create a space for Samuel to be able to work that is safe, that he's comfortable with and it's a job that he can do," Sally Lyons said. "And we hope to be successful enough to hire more, so that we can hire other individuals that are like Samuel—that need a place safe place to work and their parents don't have to worry about them being exploited in any way."
So far, much of their business has progressed through word of mouth alone. Parents from Samuel's previous classes have reached out in support of the Lyons' efforts. As the business grows and is able to expand its resources, others have asked how to have their child employed with the business.
Just as SammySocks' business launch was inspired by Samuel, so, too, is its product line. A lover of pajamas, Sally Lyons said she hopes to soon offer pajama pants as part of the business's product line. Future ideas include T-shirts adorned with Samuel-isms—expressions and phrases that Samuel has coined.
"Because of his [obsessive compulsive disorder], he tends to repeat things over and over and over again. One is, 'It's taking too long,'" Sally Lyons said, laughing. "We're gonna probably put those on hats and T-shirts eventually."
Not only does SammySocks serve as an employment resource for adults with autism, Sally Lyons said, but it also has the potential for volunteer opportunities for area students. She said she envisions a warehouse that includes different specialization areas for people with a range of needs and classifications on the autism spectrum.
"If we ever got big enough, it would be nice to have different sections that would cater to people with different needs," Sally Lyons said. "You have higher-functioning people that could function on their own, and then some that would need the job coaches, while some would need a whole lot more supervision. But we still try to treat them as an asset to the community."