'Built Different': Bucks County teen starts business to support people with special needs

A Bucks County teen is using his differences to build a brand that supports people with special needs and raises money for people with down syndrome. 

19-year-old Nolan Slaweski is preparing to graduate from Archbishop Wood High School, and as he walks to the stage in his cap and gown, he'll be holding his head high knowing he has a diploma and his own small business. 

Two years ago, after Nolan came home from Tim Tebow's Rising Light Ridge camp, he introduced a new saying to his mom, which is how the brand, "Built Different," blossomed. 

"He knows what he wants, and he went to camp and came home saying, ‘I’m built different,'" said Nolan's mom, Colleen Slawesk. "I thought that's such an amazing thing for him to recognize his differences."

Nolan has down syndrome, and he began designing t-shirts, hats, and other items, all branded with his saying, "Built Different." He started selling the merchandise two months ago on World Down Syndrome Day, and he hasn't looked back since. 

"Everybody is different, just like me," said Nolan. "We're all different."


At school, Nolan is a star. He walks through the cafeteria collecting fist bumps and high-fives from people who accept everyone's differences. Nolan now runs an Etsy shop and will be selling "Built Different" items at community events all across Bucks County. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to organizations like Autism Speaks. 

"Our kids have lots of abilities. We don’t look at the disabilities. We look at their abilities, and he’ll tell you all the time, ‘I’m built different,'' said Nolan's teacher and coach, Diana Vanthuyne. 

Nolan says he plans to save his money, so he can buy a house and a four-wheeler. But, with the sky as his limit, who knows what doors will open for this young entrepreneur. 

"If I can do it, anybody can do it," said Nolan. "I'm excited and happy."