Archive | Uncategorized RSS feed for this section

Old Pros

5 Apr

After a great spring break, the staff at the Swanky Swine hit the ground running.  On Wednesday, a reporter from the Tampa Bay Times came to observe the store and interview our employees.  Logan talked to the reporter a long time and did a great job answering all her questions (even if he did tell her that math wasn’t his favorite class). Dimitri also showed her how to add new items to the inventory and Marlena gave her a full tour of the school.  Now that the employees have been on TV, the nerves seems to be gone. They are acting like old pros and absolutely love talking to the press.

The story is supposed to come out next week (4/10/13) and we can’t wait to read it.  We hope it brings attention to not only the importance of transitional service but also to our school, Woodlawn Community Academy.


We were also featured in this month’s issue of Good Living magazine!   You can see the issue by clicking here and we’ve posted a screenshot below.  Thank you to our parents and supporters who have shared our story!

Screen Shot 2013-04-05 at 6.36.54 PM

Today was also our busiest and most profitable day to date! The employees worked really hard and ran the whole shift with limited teacher support.  It’s amazing to see them gain confidence and improve their skills.  We are so proud to see how far they have all come this year and are excited to see them continue to grow in future years.


There are several ways to help support our students in this endeavor.  We are selling brand new t-shirts that were printed by our friends Merica and Jake Stum at Brooks Screen Printing (pictured below. Thanks Merica!).  They come in several shades of grey, are vintage cut and are only $20 (100% of the profits support the Swanky Swine).   We don’t have an online shopping cart set up yet but if you’d like one you can email us at or on Facebook.  We even have kids sizes!


We also have a golf tournament coming up on May 4th that will benefit our transition program. We will even have a Swanky Swine booth set up on the golf  course. Our employees are thrilled about our first public event! We’re looking for golfers and hole sponsors.  For more information visit our event page by clicking here.


Thank You!

25 Mar


This week is Spring Break at WCA and our staff is enjoying a well deserved vacation.  During this down time, we wanted to take a few minutes to thank the people who have helped us on our journey so far.

We are so encouraged by everyone who has followed us on Facebook (we have over 200 fans!), bought t-shirts, given donations and shared the story of the Swanky Swine with their friends.



Thank you for providing the tools we need to effectively train our employees.



Thank you for encouraging our students and inspiring them learn something new.


Thank you for empowering them to reach their full potential.

We are so excited to see where this journey takes us and we are thankful for the partners who support us every step along the way!!


March Employee of the Month

19 Mar

Every month we pick an employee of the month.  The employee of the month is someone who works hard and meets or exceeds our employee expectations. These expectations include:

  • following directions
  • having a positive attitude
  • practicing good customer service including making eye contact & smiling
  • wearing a uniform when scheduled to work
  • washing their hands before working and practicing proper food handling
  • increasing knowledge of prices & products
  • Making an effort to learn money math skills including adding purchases, making change and using a calculator

This month, Allison Tremblay, was our employee of the month.



Allison always works really hard at the store.  She takes her job very seriously and puts a lot of effort into everything she is asked to do.   She is very professional with all of our customers. She was one of the students that was interviewed when news channel 8 came out and did a story. The whole school was very proud of the great job she did!

Allison said, “I like working at the Swanky Swine because it is fun and I get to work on my math skills.  I also learn what it means to be a good employee so I can go out in the world and get a good job and be a good employee.  My favorite thing is doing the cashier and handling money.  Working at the store helps me to be confident.”

Allison said the most important thing to do if you want to be a good employee is “to listen to your boss and always be clean before you start working.”

Congratulations Allison!




St.Patrick’s Day Special

12 Mar


Lucky Charms and Trix Marshmallow Treats

Our First TV Appearance

9 Mar

This was one of our most exciting weeks yet! On Tuesday afternoon we received an email from Jennifer Leigh from WFLA (our local NBC station) who said she wanted to come out and film our store.  The employees knew that this was a possibility but they were really surprised to hear that they were coming so quickly.  We spent Wednesday morning setting up the store and practicing answering questions about their jobs. They were so excited but also really nervous.  The employees learned the best way to combat nerves is to be well prepared.


We had been told that they were coming “as long as there was no breaking news.” So when the car pulled up at the school, the students were thrilled. They all cheered (some panicked for a moment but they pulled it together) and then got to work.


The camera man started filming the shift immediately. We were really busy! The employees did a great job of continuing the shift and taking care of all the customers even though they were nervous to be on camera.  Even Jennifer Leigh commented on what a great job they did “ignoring the camera” while they worked. They made all of us really proud!


After the rush, Jennifer interviewed 2 of our employees about their jobs and what they have learned so far.  Dimitri and Allison did such an awesome job answering questions about the Swanky Swine “which stands for the fancy pig”.  They told Jennifer what we sold at the store, the most popular items, and how we decide what to sell.  They also talked about what they want to do after they graduate from school and how much confidence they have gained from this job.  It was inspiring to see how far they have come in such a short time.


We were so happy with the story that WFLA aired on Thursday night.  The fact that the news came out really boosted the employees confidence and made them even more proud of their jobs.  They are starting to believe in their abilities and this is making all of the difference.  The outpouring of support has been amazing and they all feel like stars.  Jennifer Leigh even posted the kids picture on her Facebook site.

Screen Shot 2013-03-09 at 10.33.36 AM

The Swanky Swine story has been shared over and over and is currently one of the most popular videos on WFLA’s site.  We hope that this publicity helps us to garner the support we need to expand. We also hope that others will be inspired to focus on people’s abilities instead of their disabilities.

On Friday we broke another sales record at the store. All of the students loved that Woodlawn Community had received such great publicity.


We even offered a new item, since our employees are all tv stars now


All in all it was a great week. We are excited, encouraged and can’t wait to see what’s next!

group pic


In case haven’t had a chance to watch the video yet, here’s the link:

Swanky Swine store something special in Clearwater


Special needs students are running their own business in Clearwater

8 Mar

Special needs students are running their own business in Clearwater.

Click on this link to see our news story on Channel 8 WFLA. Jennifer Leigh did such a great job with the story. We are so proud of our employees and all of their hard work!

National Pig Day!

2 Mar

Woodlawn Community Academy, where we are located, has an amazing and supportive parent board.  This year the parent board raised the funds to purchase 40 ipads for the students to use in small groups.  This week, we started using the iPads at the Swanky Swine. We downloaded the Square register application ( to use as our cash register. The application allows us to take pictures of all of our products and input our own prices.  We can even take credit cards! The employees love it and it makes adding purchases, making change and tracking sales really easy.


We started on Monday by introducing the program and letting the students practice ringing in sales.


Each pair of students shared an ipad and they took turns acting out the customer and the cashier for practice. The person who was playing the customer never made it easy on the cashier. Marlena ordered one of everything and then added 20 more blow pops.



DSC_0056 DSC_0032

The iPads really enhance our employment training.  The register program we chose is currently utilized in more than a million small businesses.  Even Starbucks has recently started accepting Square payments.  Proficiency in this application will be an asset to future employers.

The employees picked up the register very quickly and we started using it in our store on Wednesday.



We set up 2 registers so we could serve our customers quickly.  We had to adjust our processes a little so the first day was a bit bumpy.  We’re running out of space again! However, the employees stuck it out and by the end of the shift were a lot more comfortable.



Friday was National Pig Day so of course we had to honor our namesake.  We offered bacon brownies that were a bit hit!



It ended up being one of our busiest shifts this year.  After our bumpy shift on Wednesday, we made a few small changes that really helped the Friday crew have a smooth shift.  After ringing up each purchase, the students use their money math skills to give proper change to every customer.  The iPads have really boosted the employees confidence and it was awesome to watch them work so quickly and proficiently.  They enjoyed being able to track their sales and became really invested in “getting our number higher.”

All in all it was an exciting week at the Swanky Swine.  When asked how they liked working with the iPads both shifts responded with these pictures:



I’d say they were a hit.



We love our customers!

23 Feb



The cold and flu season has been brutal this year and for the last two weeks it seems like at least one person was out every day.  Finally, this past Friday, everyone was feeling better and back to school, so we took the opportunity to finally take a group picture.   These 10 students have worked really hard this year learning brand new concepts and skills. Their hard work has made the Swanky Swine a great success.


One of our favorite things is getting to interact with all of the school’s students when they shop at the store.  While it wasn’t our primary goal, The Swanky Swine has given all of Woodlawn’s students the chance to practice their money math skills.  The employees often help the elementary students to figure out how much money they have to spend and what they can buy.  Our customers love the independence of picking out and paying for their own purchases.



The store is very popular with the students. They are constantly asking when we will be open or if we have any new items this week. Parents have even told us that their children will wake up in the morning and say “It’s Swanky Swine day!!”  The employees are really proud of our popularity and are excited to serve their fellow students.

DSC_0033 DSC_0041DSC_0039

This was our Wednesday crew before the shift started.  We had so many new items it was hard to fit them all on the cart! This week was one of the busiest in our short history but the employees handled it well.  They are starting to get more comfortable working and have really improved at serving our loyal customers.

February Employee of the Month

15 Feb

Every month we pick an employee of the month.  The employee of the month is someone who works hard and meets or exceeds our employee expectations. These expectations include:

  • following directions
  • having a positive attitude
  • practicing good customer service including making eye contact & smiling
  • wearing a uniform when scheduled to work
  • washing their hands before working and practicing proper food handling
  • increasing knowledge of prices & products
  • Making an effort to learn money math skills including adding purchases, making change and using a calculator

This month, Mike Towers, was our employee of the month.


Mike works really hard at the Swanky Swine. He has never missed a shift. He likes to be the cashier the most. He practices his money math skills all the time and is a great cashier!

Mike said, “What I like about the Swanky Swine is that the customers are so nice to me.  Also, without any help, I’m good at subtracting to find the change. I always smile at the customers when they walk in to the store. I learned how much everything costs and how much all the coins are worth.  I know how much one, two, three and four quarters are too.”

Great job Mike! We are really proud of you and your hard work!

Valentine’s Day!

15 Feb

Today was Valentine’s day and after two days of planning and baking we were ready to deliver our cookies.


This is only half of the cookies we made! We couldn’t even fit them all on the table.

As soon as we were ready to deliver the cookies it started to rain! We tried to go to the middle school building without getting too wet!


The kids were all excited to get their cookies grams. They loved that the cookies were in the shape of pigs and everyone thought they were delicious.   We received a ton of compliments. On the way back to our classroom, the employees kept saying, “I can’t believe they like our cookies! Everyone was so happy!”  They were all so proud that something they made brought joy to so many people.  The employees did everything from planning and budgeting to baking and packaging.  We were proud of them too.


Our delivery team was most excited when they were finally out of cookies and could go back and enjoy the day themselves.  I had to talk Mary out of keeping the pig ears on though!


Several students brought treats for the class and they really enjoyed celebrating.  They finished the day with music class which is one of their favorites.  It was a successful and profitable first Valentine’s Day at the Swanky Swine!