One of the things I love the most about working in our family-run business is the opportunity to meet some of the most amazing people along the way. Recently I traveled to Minneapolis, MN to meet the Reagan Family. They are a longtime customer of ours and the founders of Through Jimmy’s Eyes. They are also a family dedicated to bringing awareness to autism and helping families impacted by autism find the resources they need.
I met Jimmy’s mother, Peg Reagan, at a quaint restaurant called Barbette in Uptown Minneapolis. Over lunch, Peg recounted the story of how she first came into contact with Shop4ties. Back in 2012, Peg sent an email to my dad, and founder of Shop4ties, Arnie Kapp. In her email she explained that she was searching for someone who could work with her to create custom neckwear using artwork created by her son, Jimmy. Jimmy is a renowned artist who has had his work displayed all over the world. He also has complex autism and uses his artwork as a means to help people understand the world from his perspective. She told me that within five minutes of hitting send my dad, Arnie, emailed her back and called her. He wanted her to know how excited he was to partner with her on this project and assured her he would walk through every step of this project with her to achieve exactly what she is looking for. That was almost five years ago now and the partnership between Through Jimmy’s Eyes and Shop4ties is stronger than ever.
When my father passed away in 2014, I took over the account and had the opportunity to get to know the family first-hand. It became common for Peg and I to talk on the phone after completing a project about life, family and Jimmy just like old friends. After these hour-long talks I would always tell Peg that she was “superwoman”. But after meeting her today, I found out that Peg was more like “superwoman” and “wonderwoman” combined!
Peg told me about Jimmy’s early years as we walked around Lake Calhoun. She and her husband Brian have raised five beautiful and caring children. Jimmy is the third oldest of the group and receives love and support from both his parents and his siblings. At age 14, Jimmy became ill and had to be homeschooled. It was during this time his family discovered his love and talent for art through an art teacher. As Jimmy got older, he started to notice that he was different from other kids. Peg simply responded by telling Jimmy that it was good to be different because it distinguishes him as an artist. This fueled Jimmy in his pursuit of art and helped him remain focused. His family and teachers have continued to nurture his passion, and since that time his artwork has flourished. While his style continues to evolve to this day, Jimmy’s use of live and vibrant colors remains a hallmark of his work.
Jimmy’s parents, Peg and Brian, also continue to passionately support their son and other families of autistic children. In addition to founding Through Jimmy’s Eyes LLC, they funded the very first autism clinic at the University of Minnesota. Jimmy also was a participant in a groundbreaking study that showed the rate of autism to be 1 in every 250 children; not the original 1 in 10,000 that it was thought to be. They are pioneers in bringing attention to autism and helping families get the resources they need. We at Shop4ties feel so honored we were chosen to be their partner in custom neckwear for the last 5 years. More importantly, we are honored that Peg and Brian trust us to bring Jimmy’s artwork to life. We are not just client and vendor, we are family.