Ian came to us looking to understand more about our work, and find inspiration to start his own business!
Ian Solomon-Kawall is an artist, inspirational leader and consultant. His work ranges from running award-winning garden projects in South London, including May Project Gardens, to leading positive social change through his partnerships with companies like LUSH.
He has dyslexia and dyspraxia: “The main things [I find challenging] are memory, processing information and communication. With communication, I sometimes struggle expressing my ideas.
“I see and feel things before they happen and trying to communicate this to others can be difficult. I was diagnosed recently so not understanding why was a challenge for a while too.”
Why Ian came to us:
Ian initially came to Exceptional Individuals to gain some expert advice, speaking to our founder, Matt, about the challenges of starting a business with dyslexia.
He was looking for advice and inspiration from people running their own business around neurodiversity, hoping to find the synergy between similar organisations.
What Did We Do?
Exceptional Individuals helped Ian gain personal support with his dyslexia, guiding him through the Access to Work process. We also provided Ian with training and helped him to build a number of positive skills to help him with his vision.
“It was really important to be around people that run organisations, and Matt was doing it with dyslexia. I was looking for advice and inspiration for people running their own business, and I found it!”
Ian combines his love for music and love for nature; grounded in a deep respect for nature. One of his projects is the community-led food growing space May Project Gardens, which he designed using permaculture principles.
He also mentors young people, nurturing their ideas and fuelling passions through music and the environment, in a 6-month leadership programme titled ‘Hip Hop Gardens.’
What Ian said:
"I found out about Exceptional Individuals when I first got my diagnosis. I was interested in the advocacy work that Matt did and was really impressed that there was an organisation out there that saw all the positives."
What happened next:
Ian Solomon-Kawall is looking to continue his garden projects, including Hip Hop Gardens, targeting young people from different social backgrounds. He is aiming for five May Gardens sites globally to test his methodology, including new sites in Kent, Athens and places in Africa.
He is also looking to continue his festival, Come We Grow, which acts as a platform for people on the margins through exercise, astrology and dance.
He is also continuing his partnership with LUSH to improve sustainability and diversity in their stores, including his original radical workshop Power, Privilege and Biodiversity.
He thinks companies can explore the links between neurodiversity and biodiversity more, and help to unleash peoples’ creative and productive potential by making them feel more at home at work.