An Exceptional Heart
Cookeville’s Most Influential People – Class of 2022
Sometimes, all you need is a great idea to evoke change. When Cigi England came up with the idea to create an all-inclusive hub for people with disabilities, she had no clue the monumental impact she would make in so many lives.
Only two years after the initial idea, a community coffee shop opened, aptly named The Exceptional Bean. The 501(c)(3) business employs more than 36 people with disabilities while creating an environment catered to their needs.
Cigi’s passion for working with special needs families sparked when she was a volunteer at Rising Above Ministries. From there, her involvement snowballed, and she became close friends with several disabled individuals and their families.
“I started to notice that the world is just not built for people with disabilities, Cigi said. “You have to really plan when you go somewhere and question if they have a ramp, elevator, handicapped accessible bathrooms, etc.”
She also began understanding why so many people with disabilities have mental health issues. “The glaring sentiment across the board within the special needs community is that they just want a job… they want to have a purpose.”
Cigi has now created that for them: a place of employment centered around community, coffee, and character. Cigi will not take all the credit for The Exceptional Bean. The Cookeville community quickly rallied around her and brought her vision to life. Individuals in the community sponsored everything you see in “The Bean.” In fact, the inspiring new business raised more than $80,000 in donations to support its launch.
Already an established business owner in Cookeville, some may recognize the name Cigi from her popular boutique. The entrepreneur opened Cigi’s in 2014 and has overseen the women’s shop since. Her experience as a small business owner has no doubt poised her for many of the tasks she now faces as the founder and president of the board of The Exceptional Bean.