Growing Nashville business Theresa’s Twists began out of founder Theresa Daniels’ struggle and pain, and the desire that the Middle Tennessee State University junior had to create awareness around Asperger’s Syndrome.
The goal? “Changing lives one pretzel at a time.”
“It is from my deep, dark, and sometimes overwhelming challenge with Asperger’s Syndrome, that a mission and vision was been birthed to give hope and a positive future for other young adults struggling with Asperger’s,” says Daniels.
Her parents were told when she was three years old that she would probably never speak or be able to overcome her struggles. She was given very little hope to be able to navigate life on her own. Through extensive testing at the Toledo Hospital in Ohio, Theresa was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism.
“I have become what my parents call a hurdle jumper. I look at obstacles as stepping stones not stumbling blocks,” Daniels says. Five years ago, while attending the University of Cincinnati, she experienced a time of devastating depression. She began to exhibit suicidal tendencies. One day while Theresa was eating a soft pretzel, she said to herself, “Theresa’s Twists —Pretzels With a Purpose.” You can call it divine inspiration or whatever you want, but a business began then and there. Now Theresa’s Twists is growing into a company with a wonderful mission, vision, and values.
The mission of Theresa’s Twists —Pretzels With a Purpose is founded on the belief that all persons are of equal worth and great value. The dream is to give job opportunities to young adults struggling with Asperger’s Syndrome and with social deficits. The company will provide those individuals with job training, family support, and social skills for future employment.
Theresa’s Twists has three key visions:
- Theresa’s Twists will sell gourmet soft and candied pretzels in an environment that is a safe place for young adults with Asperger’s; a place that provides socialization training; to give employees a place that fosters relationships; to empower employees to become more employable.
- To develop a scalable and relevant curriculum that contains a training model that is replicable and applicable in different sizes and contexts of business.
- The company hopes to educate employers on the value of employing young adults with Asperger’s, but also wants to select qualified young adults with Asperger’s and mentor them to become self-advocating entrepreneurs.
Theresa’s Twists launched with a small kiosk, where Daniels has been learning the fundamentals of branding, business principles, marketing and retailing. She now has purchased a food trailer and truck, and soon will launch a mobile business that sells delicious gourmet soft pretzels and a line of candied pretzels. Over the next three to five years, the goal is to expand to include those products and more at a brick-and-mortar operation somewhere in Nashville.
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Theresa Daniels recently was awarded first place in the Social Enterprise Category of the Launch TN University Venture Challenge in Tennessee. Along with the prize money from that challenge, she conducted a Theresa’s Twists’ Kickstarter where she raised $20,000. Since winning the Launch TN Venture challenge, Daniels has been inducted into the National Society for Leadership and Success. Her book The Adventures of Dad and T, was published in 2016. Her business story has been chronicled at TheMighty.com, and in several local media outlets. Learn more about the company at www.theresastwists.com.