Nolan Stillwell. CEO, avid gardener, talented chef and beacon of hope. Nolan has Down Syndrome, but there is nothing "disabled" about this hardworking, motivated young man.
After Nolan graduated from Katy High School, he and his mother, Christine, found a way to combine his love of cooking with adult life -- and they didn't have to look any farther than his beloved garden. Nolan picked a few jalapeños, took to the Internet for a recipe and created his own unique, delicious jam. Thus, Nolan's Sweet Heat was born.
Nolan and his mother work incredibly hard out of their local church kitchen to meet all of the orders they receive. Their business has grown to more than 3,000 jars a year! Yet, Nolan is never slowed down by the massive amounts of work he does. He adores his job and is extremely proud of every jar.
Each of the company's 10 flavors are made with all natural and locally grown ingredients, and are completely gluten-free. The product line includes flavors like Peach Habanero, Peach Jalapeno, Apricot Jalapeno, Strawberry Jalapeno, Habenero Heat, and Tropical Heat, made with juicy pineapple and habanero pepper. Christine and Nolan recently concocted a recipe for "Drunken Pepper Jam," made with Malbec wine and jalapenos. It's an adult version of their spicy-sweet jelly. But the flavor that represents Nolan's character the best is the "Holiday Heat" flavor.
"This jam was made in honor of Nolan's friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer," said Christine Stilwell. "Nolan wanted to do something to help her get better. 'Holiday Heat' is made of all anti-cancer ingredients. Nolan is convinced it was his jam hat made her cancer-free."
Nolan's success and opportunity is a beacon of hope to everyone with special needs. He has proven that no matter who you are, no matter what you were born with, no matter how many obstacles you face, with passion and a dedication you can reach your goals and fulfill your dreams. Thanks to his school, parents and community, Nolan has been able to achieve his dream and do what he loves.
Nolan is a very special member of the community and he has demonstrated it in everything he does. From giving out handshakes and hugs to customers, creating a special jam for a friend in need, and taking his own initiative after high school, he has given everyone good reason to look past his disability and see his immeasurable ability.