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Exploring Life & Business with Michelle Ravan of Jaybird Vending

Today we’d like to introduce you to Michelle Ravan.

Hi Michelle, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
My husband, John, and I welcomed our first son, JR, in June of 2018. In March of 2021, JR was diagnosed with autism.

Fast forward to today, JR is still our sweet, friendly, inquisitive little boy but remains minimally verbal. He began using an AAC (augmented and alternative communication) device a few weeks ago and has made amazing progress in his ability to communicate his thoughts, feelings, and needs.

Since JR’s diagnosis, he has been in many hours of weekly therapy and while he is making progress, he may not be able to or want to be employed in the traditional 9a-5p. While JR may communicate differently, he is still mentally and physically able to contribute to the community.

This summer, John and I started Jaybird Vending Services for JR which specializes in modern vending options. We offer self-serve ice and boutique vending machines that can be personalized to fit the needs of the customer. The most exciting part of the business is that we will donate 10% of machine sales to local autism foundations in the name of the business that has allowed us to place the machine.

We are working hard to build this business for JR to give him and other people like him the opportunity for independence.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
I’d like to start by saying our road has been much smoother than the road of others, but being an autistic parent always comes with unexpected speed bumps.

Building a business in our free time while trying to become fluent in AAC (augmented and alternative communication) to then model for JR has been difficult.

Consistent modeling of communication on the AAC creates normality and connection with JR.

As you know, we’re big fans of Jaybird Vending, LLC. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
Jaybird Vending was started to give our son, J.R., independence.

He was diagnosed with autism and while he is making amazing progress, we want to build something that allows him the ability to work a fulfilling role that may not be possible with a traditional 9-5.

We are set apart by our business model which partners with local autism foundations to support their work and is placed at no cost to the business. Ten percent of all machine sales will be donated in the name of the business and the business can select the foundation from an approved list.

What do you like best about our city? What do you like least?
What do you like best: I’ve been part of the Lowcountry since 2008 and fell in love with the people and the scenery.

What do you like least: Our family loves a spontaneous trip to the gas station for snacks! Our favorite gas station, QT, doesn’t have any locations here.

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