Welcome to Moji, a new, atypical coffee shop that is serving more than just drinks, but experiences for both the customers and their "mojistas." This is a non-profit business that employs people with IDD – intellectual and developmental disabilities from the Winston-Salem community. I spoke with Tim Flavin, the board president and the visionary behind this operation, who took me through his revolutionary idea. 

The Concept 

This idea has been in the works for two years. The concept for the coffee shop was first inspired by Bitty and Beau's Coffee in Wilmington, North Carolina. The owner, Amy Wright, was determined to help change the world for her two children, Bitty and Beau, who have Down's Syndrome. There is an 80% unemployment rate of people with disabilities and she feared that her children wouldn't be given equal opportunities as those without IDD. Once Tim saw the sentiment and success of Amy's business, he was quick to jump at the opportunity. He immediately began thinking of people who could make this dream a reality. 

The Name "Moji" 

In case you didn't already know, Moji isn't a real word. The Variable, the leading marketing team working pro bono for the shop, suggested making up a new word that would be unique, just like the people working there. Together, the board created the term "Moji" and a definition for it; the jolt of joy you get when you make others happy. And that's exactly what they are providing. 

A Non-Profit 

Moji is a non-profit business that is donation-based. If you're interested, you can donate here. They will be selling artwork created by the IDD community for customers, in addition to an array of Moji merchandise. The store front was a donation from the Winston-Salem community, too. The back wall of the shop is actually the Downtown Middle School, who agreed to lease the property, at no cost, for the first two years of business. There has also been a great deal of corporate support and county donations. The Variable is donating their marketing team and Lowe's donated the paint needed for the project. 

Hiring Strategy 

Although Moji has not yet begun hiring, they have no fear that there will be an ample amount of interest. The team is planning on reaching out to communities in Winston-Salem that specialize in supporting people with disabilities such as, the I Can House, Carter High School, the Greater Winston-Salem Down's Syndrome Association, and more to find their "mojistas." Another inspirational idea about this coffee shop is that the employees will be making above minimum wage. There will be three "mojistas" on every shift, working an average of 10-12 hours per week. 


They have not set an opening date yet, but the Moji team is hoping for April or May since they are still fundraising. However, there will be soft openings prior to the official unveiling in order to gradually familiarize the "mojistas" with this new scene, as most of them have never had a real job before. Also, on March 18, there will be an information meeting for anyone with IDD interested in working at the shop to learn more about the opportunity face-to-face. 

Spreading the Joy

Since Moji can only hire so many people, the team has decided to encourage other businesses to begin hiring people with IDD more regularly. The goal is to create a world where every member of the community can have the same fulfilling employment and opportunities that so many of us take for granted. 

Moji will be a positive experience for the employees with IDD and the customers. The new coffee shop will create interactions and connections between people who would most likely not have this opportunity otherwise. Together, we can fuel a world where no one is undeserving of work and everyone has equal employment opportunities.