NewsMade Us Smile

Actions

North Ridgeville High School students with special needs open 'Able Not Label' clothing storefront

The Rangers Pride can be heard, felt and seen the moment you step foot inside the 'Able, Not Label' production room and newly-opened storefront off of Center Ridge Road.
able not label 7.jpeg
able not label 1.jpeg
able not label 2.jpeg
able not label 4.jpeg
able not label 5.jpeg
Posted at 6:27 AM, Jul 03, 2023

NORTH RIDGEVILLE, Ohio — A major milestone is being celebrated in one Northeast Ohio high school. A student-run business just opened its first-ever brick-and-mortar storefront. It's called "Able Not Label."

The store is run entirely by North Ridgeville High School students with special needs and their support staff.

"Able Not Label" has been a true labor of love for the teachers and students.

They say the skills taught here are life-changing.

The Rangers Pride can be heard, felt and seen the moment you step foot inside the "Able, Not Label" production room and newly-opened storefront off of Center Ridge Road.

"Our students mean everything to us," said Caitlin Carlo, Intervention Specialist at North Ridgeville High School.

It's where North Ridgeville High School students with special needs work hand-in-hand with staff to perfectly craft each and every t-shirt, sweatshirt and piece of merchandise sold there.

"I love clothes," said Kaylee Focht, North Ridgeville High School student.

"We want to show the community that our students are capable of so much. Not to focus on the disability, but the abilities," Carlo said.

Each student has a job title, working their way up the ranks over the years.

Alex Ashburn is the store manager who takes immense pride in making sure everyone leaves satisfied.

"We help out many customers," Ashburn said.

Kaylee Focht is a self-proclaimed clothing fanatic and the assistant manager of the store.

She loves a little flare with her fashion.

"I'm a sparkle girl," Focht said.

The students prep and cut vinyl, use a tool to cut the design stencil out, heat press the shirts, then quality-check each and every item before it hits the clothing rack.

"There's a job for every one of our students, regardless of their ability level. Every one of our students are contributing-- even if it's just stamping our logo on the business cards or using the heat press," Carlo said.

Carlo started the program with a grant a few years ago.

She's watched it explode in popularity— with every sale and every dollar going back toward supporting the students and the program.

It ultimately allowed them to move from the high school to the physical store front.

"We have been bringing in about $4,000 a month in sales, give or take. So, that's awesome," Carlo said.

The skills learned are invaluable, from money management and customer service to overall communication.

"They never cease to amaze me. And, you know, what they're capable of is amazing," said Jason Sewell, Paraprofessional with North Ridgeville City Schools.

Carlo said the concept admittedly started out as a pipe dream years ago, and she's been blown away by what it has become.

What's most rewarding is witnessing the teamwork and smiles each day.

"To see them grow and thrive; and gain confidence and then also contribute to society the way that they're doing — it's what pushes our passion forward," Carlo said.

"This store will be fabulous," Ashburn said.

"Able Not Label" is located along Center Ridge Road off Emerald, right by the North Ridgeville Family Dentistry.

They are open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays in July.

They will close in August and re-open with new hours during the school year.

To order products and support the cause, you can e-mail your requests to ablenotlabel@gmail.com and check out their website here.

She says she would love to turn the project into some sort of day program and one day hire and pay the staff directly.

"Able Not Label's" Facebook can be found here.