Local business owner hires adults with disabilities, hopes to launch nonprofit

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Katie Murdoch looks forward to coming to work.

She recently landed her first job at a bakery and is constantly discovering that she has a real talent in the kitchen.

“I love learning new things,” she said.

She’s the latest employee at Bespoke Confections -- a bakery owned by Jiliana Dulaney.

Dulaney not only runs the bakery, but she is also a job coach.

In that role, she has seen some troubling situations in the workforce.

“We've had a lot of companies that are just not OK with hiring someone with a disability. They won't come out and say that, but we've had a lot of not so great experiences,” Murdoch.

She decided to use her business to make a powerful statement.

In July 2017, she started a pilot program to hire people with intellectual disabilities.

She currently has three employees.

With the help of the Enrichment Center in Winston-Salem, Murdoch is getting the chance to have a greater sense of independence through developing life skills.

“I didn’t want to be at my house all day,” Murdoch said.

Dulaney wants to turn the pilot program into a nonprofit that serves as a pre-employment readiness option.

Her hope is that the nonprofit will also become a model for other businesses to follow.

Dulaney has launched a capital campaign to help fund the process of earning a 501(c)(3) status and to operate the bakery in a commercial kitchen.

Bespoke Confections supplies baked good to Coffee Park in Winston-Salem.