#Teamnono is made of people who consider themselves to be neurodiverse, as well as others who usually fall into the ‘unemployable’ category. Young people who have something important to say and stand for.
Some members of Teamnono work in production, packing, making and decorating chocolates, others are freelance artists, journalist, bloggers, illustrators and social media specialists.
We continue to look at new ways we can adapt and offer more opportunities to the differently-able in our community.
Lockdown did not stopped us recruiting. Check out our latest projects to find out how.
Teamnono - How it all started
I never planned to run my own business, but so often we fall into the future by accident. A happy accident, in my case, and a very personal one. Teamnono came about as a natural progression when I set up a company producing allergy-friendly snacks. These snacks were originally made for my son, who I nicknamed ‘Nonoboy’. #nonoboy
Ethan (now 16) has autism, is coeliac, struggles with allergies and once said ‘no-no’ to everything, including most foods. In fact in the early days he only ate chocolate. Concerned about the amount of sugar he was eating, I researched ways of introducing healthy ingredients into his diet without arousing suspicion. After a lot of trial and error I developed a range of allergy friendly, gluten-free, dairy-free, additive-free goodies that Ethan adored.
We named it Nono Cocoa. More on this here
It seemed others did, too, because very soon I was persuaded to take things further, and Nono Cocoa collection was born under the umbrella of Functional Food Co. Cocoa was our chocolate autism assistant dog, who saved my son’s life on many occasions and so we decided to honour her memory and included her in the name of the product. Learn more about incredible dog
‘Team Nono’ was named as we prepared for our first Allergy Trade Show and one of our fans – herself on the autism spectrum – sent a video message shouting ‘go team nono’! We loved our new name and so did our supporters.
Employ My Ability #employmyability
Back then I was a single mum with my own health concerns, turned down time and again for regular employment due to Ethan’s complex needs, which required a flexible schedule. I set up in my kitchen at home with a team of single mums, some with diagnosed mental health issues, some simply crushed and isolated by their own self-esteem. It was a support group more than a production line.
In the Nono Cocoa kitchen, I noticed how my low-functioning autistic son was beginning to keenly participate in activities like labelling, packing, sticking, enjoying the attention to detail the work required. His handiwork was to become my company’s future.
Well: if you want to change the world, you start small at your door-step and build up. I looked into my network of wonderful people and spotted a connection from the days when I ran a charity for autism. Local college for young adults with additional needs was all too happy to jump on board. Very soon we were looking at how to provide work placement for a number of young people. I welcomed the help and they welcomed the work; the possibilities were far-reaching given their skills and experiences. We learned from each other.
We proudly say No!no!
Teamnono was now very diverse, representative of many voices and very keen to use the ‘chocolate platform’ to get people’s attention about the things we care about. It was no longer a chocolate making company, but an organisation that has values and principles that we want to model and influence others.
We have said Nono to junk food and created nourishing treats. We proved that you can have a beautiful chocolates without artificial ingredients and wonderful flavours using only what nature has to offer. That we care enough to make sure that our treats are inclusive, and everyone can enjoy it regardless of allergies or medical conditions. We have gone the extra mile to make vegan 'Milky' tast like you are 'not missing out'
We demonstrated that Nono exclusion is a better way to raise your company profile than any marketing money can buy.
We actively work on #Nonobulling campagna and #GiveUsABrake
Supporting mental health awareness with #Nonostigma messages
We continue to look into some of the bigger issues, such as discrimination, sexism, LGBTQ+ rights and more.
We became not-for-profit Teamnono.org
We create our own future
We’ve made many in-roads over the years, with collaborations along the way from journalists on the spectrum as well as designers and illustrators, social media marketers and researchers: a pool of talented people. Now we’re about to launch a major new initiative that’s almost as exciting as our first lightbulb moment around the kitchen table. Click on the link to find out more about Autistic Women Artists (AWA).
Last year was a tough one for the whole world. Adapting to Covid’s lockdown reality, we discovered a whole new way to help people with autism benefit from paid opportunities, and we’re facing the future with positivity.
I took the road less travelled and solved more problems than I ever imagined. It has been a successful journey, rewarding for our customers who enjoyed allergy safe treat and also for the team. For some it was a life-changing transition into a friendly, understanding environment and secure employment; for others the opportunity was more about finding out what they wanted to do. For me, it was based on love and necessity.
We love what we do, we love how we work and we love the fact that you love it too. Anyone buying our chocolate knows they are supporting an organisation that makes the world a better place – one chocolate at a time.