If there’s one thing that most everyone agrees on, it’s that life isn’t easy. No matter your origins or where you are in life at the moment, you’ve almost certainly faced your share of challenges.
While things can be tough on everyone, there are some who have a harder time than most people. But one of the most inspiring things about people is their ability to stand up against adversity and find a way to thrive…
In many ways, Jessica was a typical Midwestern woman. Living in St. Peters, Missouri, she was a self-described “huge sports fan” that especially loved the St. Louis Cardinals and the St. Louis Blues. Even more important to her were animals.
Jessica was the proud “mom” of two dogs, Annie and Yadi (named after Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina), and two cats, Joey and Mickey. When she wasn’t attending a sporting event or spending time with her family and friends, she loved to go horseback riding, too.
But for all the things that made her similar to other people, there was one thing about Jessica that was fairly unique. She had a rare genetic syndrome called Rubinstein Taybi Syndrome, a condition characterized by distinctive facial features and moderate to severe learning difficulties.
That meant that growing up, Jessica had to face difficult challenges that most of us never have to deal with. Because of her syndrome, she was treated differently by students and teachers alike, and not always in the best of ways.
Jessica sometimes had to deal with the kind of harsh treatment from other students that you might expect given the fact that she was different. But even after she was finished with her education, she faced unfair circumstances as a result of her syndrome.
Trying to Find Work
Because of her learning difficulties, Jessica was having a hard time finding a job that was a good fit for her abilities with an employer who was willing to ‘take a chance’ on someone who wasn’t the same as everyone else.
Starting a Business
Unable to find someone willing to hire her, Jessica Eisenbeis decided to take matters into her own hands. If no one was going to hire her, she was going to take one of her passions in life and turn it into her own business.
Baking Up a Storm
For the past few years, Jessica had been making high quality homemade treats for cats and dogs and she wasn’t just making them for her own pets. She began selling her treats at local fairs and markets. Business was going so well that she even set up a website so people could get her treats online.
The Next Step
The business was doing so well that the it seemed possible for Jessica to open a brick-and-mortar store. That could be a huge deal for her, allowing people to pass by her business as they went about their everyday lives and giving the curious a chance to walk in off the street and check out the treats.
The idea would also allow Jessica to expand her business. In addition to baking treats for pets, she could start baking things for their owners too. Handmade baked goods for people wouldn’t be all that different from what she was already doing and why should the pets have all the fun?
It would also give her an opportunity to do some good and help out a cause that was important to her. With the help of her mother, Cindy Eisenbeis, Jessica set up Annie’s Fund, named after her second dog. The fund would help shelter dogs in need of medical help.
“We named this fund after Annie, our Newfie, since she herself experienced several expensive but life saving surgeries and is a happy and healthy dog because of them,” her website says. “We realize dogs that have been abused and abandoned might not have access to necessary medical treatment due to cost so we set up Annie’s Fund as a way to help.”
But opening up an actual storefront isn’t cheap. She would need to raise the money to actually pay for the location, signage, insurance, and all the little costs that can add up to a heavy sum of money in the end.
To raise the funds through treat sales alone would take a very long time and Jessica didn’t want to put off her goal any longer. So with the help of her family, Jessica organized a fundraiser through GoFundMe to raise the capital to open up her store.
We Made It
Donations came in slowly, but steadily. Over the course of a year and with the help of 99 donors—including one who anonymously donated a whopping $10,000—she was able to meet her $20,000 goal.
Strip Mall Shop
Combined with the money brought in from the sale of treats, Jessica had enough to get a store in a small shopping center on the east side of St. Peters. Then, she and her family got down to the task of making the storefront ready for business.
After getting all the infrastructure and decorations in place, the only remaining step was to get the storefront ready and pick a name. Jessica decided to call her shop, Yadi’s Yummies, after her dog and the Cardinals’ Catcher.
“I’m super excited,” Jessica said to a local FOX news affiliate on the day of the grand opening. Given that it was the opening day of her business, she should have been, especially considering it was the first full time job she’d ever had.
In the long run, Jessica also hopes to do even more good through the company. She doesn’t want other people to find themselves in a situation similar to the one she was in, unable to find work. “Her goal is to someday, if we’re successful, to be able to hire people with disabilities,” Cindy said.
Jessica Eisenbeis’ story should act as a lesson to all of us. It teaches us that just because someone may have different abilities doesn’t mean that they don’t have something worth contributing to society. It also teaches us that when you follow your dreams, amazing things can happen.