Business

Kent entrepreneur helps disabled people with the art of origami

Lindy Styer helps disabled people throughout South King County with her origami creations. - Michelle Conerly, Kent Reporter
Lindy Styer helps disabled people throughout South King County with her origami creations.
— image credit: Michelle Conerly, Kent Reporter

With a fold here and a bent corner there, entrepreneur Lindy Styer is helping disabled people throughout South King County with origami, the Japanese art of turning paper into decorative shapes and figures.

Her home-based company in Kent, Fun Foldables, creates and sells keepsake notecard holders that can be reused as ornaments, decorations and other things.

It all started in Hawaii in the early '90s when Styer and a friend were walking through a market and found a folded paper Hawaiian shirt.

"I just thought that thing was just so stinking cute," she said.

Styer went home and tried to recreate what she loved fold by fold, and the rest is history.

Styer began selling her product in Hawaii, but because she needed to bulk up her merchandise supply, she contracted work out to Lanakila Pacific Rehab, a center that offers programs and services that enable people with disabilities to build independence.

So when Styer and her family moved to Kent in 2006, she decided to continue with her keepsake business and the effort to employ people with disabilities.

"I know that they (can) do it," Styer said. "There (are) certain people that it (can) create a really great job for."

Styer contracts workers through CenterForce, a private nonprofit in Lakewood that connects disabled people to companies for work. There, Styer is able to provide jobs for disabled individuals and have her merchandise folded all in one place without having to pay for facilities to house workers.

Styer believes that people with all ability types are able to enjoy origami, and since she's got the company and the materials to do so, she invites anyone interested in design, art or origami to "come play with (her)."

"I am looking always recruiting artists, and if they have a disability, (it's a place) to take your artistic talent and try something new," she said.

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