Meet Taylor Gardner Chaney, the visionary behind Dig It! Coffee Co., a dynamic coffee shop in the heart of downtown Las Vegas. Beyond serving exceptional brews, Taylor is on a mission to create an inclusive community and provide empowering job opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Her journey began with The Garden Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to enriching the lives of adults with different abilities. Still, it was Dig It! Coffee Co. that truly transformed the downtown scene, offering not only quality coffee but also a space for growth and inclusivity.
In our interview, Taylor shares her unwavering commitment to inclusion, making a significant impact not only by reshaping coffee culture but also by fostering positive change throughout the Las Vegas community.
Thank you for chatting with us, Taylor! Please introduce yourself to our readers.
Hi there, my name is Taylor Gardner Chaney! I am a driven, passionate and progressive entrepreneur with multifaceted businesses and one common mission; to support and enhance the lives of individuals with disabilities and make our community a more inclusive place.
Inspired by my little sister who was born with Down syndrome and the lack of resources and opportunities available, I have dedicated my work to filling these gaps.
I am the Founder and CEO of The Garden Foundation; a non-profit organization and facility, serving adults with different abilities in Las Vegas. I have not only created a thriving organization but also become a government state provider and successfully raised thousands in continued growth. I have also Founded Tribe Inclusive Learning Platform; a national online platform providing classes and services for individuals with disabilities, as well as Dig it! Coffee Co., a social enterprise coffee shop in downtown Las Vegas, providing training and competitive wage job opportunities to those with disabilities and their peers.
I also proudly serve on the Nevada Governor’s Council for Developmental Disabilities and have been recognized by the National Association of Women Business Owners in Southern Nevada as a ‘Woman of Distinction.’ I also sit on advisory boards for Touro University (OTD) and Pima Medical Institute (OT).
I passionately continue to change the scope for those with disabilities and their families by empowering people to reach their full potential and creating opportunities for a more inclusive community.
Can you tell us the story behind the founding of Dig It! Coffee Co and what inspired you to start this company?
My little sister, Lindsay, was born with Down syndrome and is truly my favorite human. We are very close in age (only 16 months apart) so I don’t really know life without her. Being so close in age, we transitioned to adulthood around the same time and I noticed how different her options and opportunities (or lack thereof) looked from mine. Lindsay is nonverbal and needs assistance to live daily life and unfortunately, she just became a number and slipped through the cracks when she became an adult/a part of different organizations here. I wanted more for her and for her future. Not just a daycare, but a place where she could continue learning, growing, making new friends and finding fulfillment. When my family and I couldn’t find that for her, I decided to create that. I opened The Garden Foundation, a nonprofit organization for adults with disabilities in 2018. The Garden Foundation was created to be smaller by design and a more personalized approach providing educational and recreational classes for adults with disabilities to truly reach their fullest potential. In teaching adults, we began a work skills program and started serving coffee throughout our office building. Our clients LOVED it. They got to go out into the community, interact and meet new people, serve coffee and found purpose and value in being a part of a working team. All while we were able to teach valuable work and life skills such as communication, customer service, money handling, and teamwork. It was a beautiful interaction to watch. As I got to see the interactions and people (who may have never had an interaction with someone with a disability before) and had their hearts open and such a positive, memorable experience and connection through coffee, I also got to see how happy and fulfilled it made our clients. I knew from then that I wanted to do this on a bigger scale. For the past 4 years we served coffee at various events, farmers markets, businesses, and finally branched off and opened Dig it! Coffee Co. (a sister company to The Garden Foundation) in September of 2022. I was passionate about providing opportunities for adults with disabilities to have a positive, inclusive place to work while making competitive wages in meaningful employment.
Providing job training and mentorship for adults with disabilities is a central aspect of your mission. Can you describe how this program works and the impact it has had on the lives of the individuals involved?
Dig It! Coffee Co. started as a vocational training program at The Garden Foundation, a non profit I started 5 years ago. We could see how valuable the skills learned and the growth being made by our clients, that we knew we wanted to do it on a bigger scale. For 4 years we served at various pop-up events, farmers markets, 5ks, etc where our people got hands-on training and mentorship while learning communication skills, money handling, teamwork, self confidence and more. I always knew that we wanted to provide competitive wages to our people which is exactly why we started Dig It! Coffee Co. and can now do this for our team members along with providing a positive and inclusive work space where they feel a purpose and valued within our community.
Community support plays a significant role in your mission, especially at the present. How can individuals and businesses in the community actively support Dig It! Coffee Co?
Unfortunately the past 6 months have been challenging for Dig It! due to the City of Las Vegas doing major construction that has affected parking as well as all entrances into our store. This has resulted in shortening store hours, staff hours and has overall just been a difficult time for us as a whole. Recently, I decided to share transparently what was going on at the shop on our social media and was met with the most incredible support from the community. People have really rallied behind us, come into the store, hosted events, brought their friends and family, shared our story and have really supported us through this challenging time. Even people who don’t live here have been fans and supported us by placing orders online for merch and continuing to share who we are, what we do and the positive effects of our mission. We are grateful for any support that individuals or the community can offer whether that’s coming in for your daily coffee, buying a t-shirt online or sharing our mission with friends and family.
When it comes to your coffee selection, you emphasize serving ‘seriously good locally roasted coffee.’ Could you share more about the specific coffee beans you source locally and the reasons behind your choice to focus on local roasters?
Yes! We partner with Sin City Coffee and Dark Moon roasters (local) who have been so wonderful to work with. We also work with local bakeries for some of our sweet treats and food options. I love working with local businesses and prefer to do so in every area we can! Something about an individual going out on their own to create something from their heart and share it with the world in a place that they love and live is so powerful. I don’t think people realize the impact they have when supporting local. It’s so meaningful and rewarding to those who work so hard as small business owners.
Which beverage on your menu tends to be the crowd favorite, and what would you suggest as the ideal choice for someone visiting your coffee shop for the first time?
This is a tough one as I feel like everyone has such different coffee preferences! But I would say our cookies and cream cold brew is definitely up there! We have AWESOME cold brew but add a sweet vanilla cream and oreo cold foam on top and it’s just TOO good. A little sweet treat on top of great quality coffee.
Describe your coffee shop in 3 words.
Fun, inclusive and welcoming!
Can you share your vision for the future of Dig It! Coffee Co and its role in championing inclusivity, equity, and kindness within the coffee industry and the broader community?
My vision for Dig It! has always been to provide competitive wage job opportunities for people of all abilities, in a positive and inclusive working environment. I’m still blown away by the amount of applications that we receive daily from people with disabilities who truly just want the opportunity to work in a positive, supportive work environment, and make a competitive wage. We are currently fully staffed and then some, so that makes this a wonderful but challenging problem.
It is my goal to continue to create more opportunities and to expand Dig It! across the west coast and be a leading example for not just the coffee industry but general workplaces that would benefit from hiring people with disabilities.
What advice would you give to someone who is dreaming of opening their own small business?
My advice would be to have a very strong ‘why’ and a purpose bigger than yourself because things will get really, really challenging. At the end of the day, if you know that you’re making an impact that’s bigger than you, that will always be what keeps you going. Be resilient, be resourceful and be patient. It takes more time and dedication than usually anticipated to be successful. Don’t give up!
What is your interpretation of a Raw Femme?
The values of Raw Femme and the values of Dig It! Coffee Co. directly align. We were created to celebrate differences, be a place of belonging and promote kindness and inclusion in all that we do. I love that Raw Femme is empowering women business owners and sharing examples of other inspiring women in the entrepreneurial field. If they/we can do it, you can too!
Located in the of Downtown Las Vegas!
1300 S Casino Center Blvd Unit 110, Las Vegas, Nv 89104
Open Tuesday – Sunday, 9 AM – 2 PM
Saturday – Sunday, 9 AM – 3 PM