In the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing the stories of the six achievers we will be honoring at our Expect Success: Celebrating Achievers gala on April 25. Our achievers are people with disabilities who have excelled in the arts, classroom, business world, and beyond. You can follow along with these stories right here.
Social inclusion has been one of the most crucial aspects of Tess Keijser’s success. For her entire life, Tess, a young woman with Down syndrome, has been in inclusive settings, whether in the classroom or the workforce. Now almost 22 years old, Tess is thriving as a Director for Pampered Chef, hosting her own parties and selling over $20,000 worth of products in the three years she has been with the company. And she has done all of this and more while managing celiac disease, dealing with chronic episodes and flare ups along the way.
Tess has never thought of herself as a person with a disability who is limited or defined by her condition. She knows she has the right to do and be anything, and that self-awareness and self-motivation have led to her becoming quite the entrepreneur. While in high school, she passionately wanted to work at Forever 21, so she applied for a position not once, not twice, but three times. Each time, she moved further along in the application process, and the third time, she was hired…only for the store to be notified it was shutting down the following week.
But not even that momentary setback was enough to deter Tess from making her dreams come true. At age 19, Tess began to work as a Pampered Chef. The flexibility of their scheduling allowed Tess to decide to throw her sales parties whenever her health and spirits were in the best shape. With the help of scripted guides, she is able to throw the parties essentially on her own, and she also makes sales calls to maximize her returns.
Tess’s hardworking entrepreneurial spirit, along with her positive demeanor and responsibility, led to her being promoted to the position of Director within Pampered Chef. At a conference in Chicago in August 2017, she walked across stage with 500 other Pampered Chef Directors, in front of a crowd of 5,000 spectators.
Her battle with celiac disease has been particularly harrowing. A single incident, involving the smallest bit of contact with gluten, can necessitate 6-12 months of recovery time. Even as she has dealt with all of these struggles, Tess has remained forward thinking, focusing on her business, her passion for dance, and her desire to have a well-rounded social life.
In the coming months, Tess and her mother, Dale, are hoping to put together a cook book, so Tess’s impressive culinary achievements can be shared with all.
Written by Katerina Daley, Development and Digital Media Associate
The Arc of Massachusetts 2018 gala, Expect Success: Celebrating Achievers, will be held on April 25. To learn more, purchase tickets, or become a sponsor, please visit the official gala webpage.