Ramble on Pearl: Changing the World One Outfit at a Time

The Mindens (Andy far left and Connie second from the left) with their apprentices and job coaches

High school graduation is a momentous occasion. For most of us, it means moving out of our parents’ homes and into the real world as independent citizens. Whether that means college or a full time job, it is up to us as individuals.

But for people with IDD, or intellectual and developmental disabilities, the opportunities for growth often stop after high school. Boulder residents Connie and Andy Minden decided that was not the future they wanted for their daughter, Kendra and her peers.

So, four years ago, the Mindens began developing a revolutionary approach to help Kendra and others learn skills that would enable them to be integrated members of our community through independent employment.

“We started Ramble on Pearl as a result of feeling frustrated that our daughter, and her peers — adults with IDD — have a really difficult time finding independent employment,” Connie Minden said. “We were seeing all these individuals with so much to contribute to the community, but with no avenue for doing so.”

While neither had a background in retail, the Mindens wanted to build an apprenticeship for people with IDD, that would train them and then assist them in finding jobs of their own. They needed a business model that would provide a venue for the program and generate enough money to hire job coaches, and to pay the apprentices during their training without being forever dependent on donations or government programs.

Thus, in 2014 Ramble on Pearl was born. The upscale boutique located on Boulder’s historic Pearl Street came to fruition with the help of two very important nonprofits. Through a grant, Social Venture Partners of Boulder County provided the Mindens with indispensable consulting they needed in order to develop their business model and organizational structure while Imagine! fiscally sponsored Ramble on Pearl until their 501(c)(3), named Boulder Treasures, was officially granted nonprofit status.

Beautiful apparel from locally-based brand Krimson Klover at Ramble on Pearl


Help also came from the private sector. Holly Wiese of 3 Dots Design artfully designed Ramble on Pearl for free, helping to bring in plenty of foot traffic. With the location and the promise of below-retail prices, Ramble covers 40% of their expenses simply from sales, with nearly half of their customers coming in from out of town. According to Andy, “One of our challenges is to get the word out to local shoppers, that while we are a nonprofit, we are not a thrift store. All of the product sold at the store is sourced from local, national and international brands, many of whom support our mission by offering discounts on our wholesale costs which we pass on to our customers as a win-win proposition.”

Since opening, Ramble has assisted 11 individuals with IDD find independent jobs, with six more apprentices currently in the program. Check out next week’s Boulder Source article for more information about Ramble on Pearl’s apprentice program and the Minden’s big plans for the future.

In the meantime, go check out the store for yourself. And remember, your purchase is for a very good cause.