Kristin Cardenas is owner of Open Door Tea Shop, a wife and a mother of 4 children. At Open Door, we hire formerly incarcerated individuals, train them and develop necessary social and communication skills needed to succeed in society. We also only sell only incarcerated and felon artwork. Kristin is also the Founder and Executive Director of Denver Arts & Skills Center (DASC). DASC teaches healing through art through art therapy and creative placemaking. DASC's trauma informed art therapy sessions which take place on Wednesday evenings for formerly incarcerated. (Please visit Denverdasc.org for an art therapy application)
I often get the question what inspired you? I have spent the majority of my adulthood life caring for my father who was a alcoholic and suffered from PTSD. I've also been the primary support system for both my brothers who are recovering drug addicts and previously incarcerated. I believe the struggle is real: for quality therapy, meaningful employment and housing for adults transitioning from prison to society. I hopes to not only provide meaningful employment opportunities, help support families left behind due to incarceration through artwork but to also lay a foundation for a place everyone can co-exist. Open Door Tea Shop is in the heart of the community that my husband and I have deep roots in. It is truly a dream come true for me. I believe strongly in criminal justice reform and providing second chances.
William Gomez-Tea Shop Manager
From the age of 8, William was in and out of the system due to a chaotic and unsafe family life. He spent a good deal of his childhood in facilities such as Denver Children Home, Gemini Shelter, Urban Peak and Bannock Shelter. William worked hard and successfully obtained his GED. He then pursued a degree at Westwood Community College in Computer Networking. William is a Denver native and has deep roots in the Cole neighborhood, where his family has resided for nearly a decade. William was released from prison in 2017 and will be working full-time at Open Door Tea Shop while pursuing his passion of the arts.
Jacobo "Cobo" Gonzales Tea Shop Employee
Cobo is a Denver Native who has deep roots in both East and North Denver. His grandfather Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales graduated from Manuel High School. Cobo was recently released in February 2018 after serving approximately four years of incarceration. Cobo comes to Open Door Tea Shop with experience working with high-risk youth in the community. Previously, he developed “FRESH” an afterschool hip hop and art program for the youth at Bruce Randolph, Mi Casa, St. Charles Rec Center and a few other schools in Denver, Colorado. He is a father of two little girls and has a deep passion for the arts; including poetry and music. Cobo believes strongly in equal rights and equal opportunity. Cobo is currently working at Open Door Tea Shop while helping his sister Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez campaign as she runs for House of Respresentatives District Four.
Jordyn is currently a senior at Manual High School. She's currently completing all her community service hours for graduation at Open Door Tea Shop.
"For years now, I have had a strong admiration for drawing. And lately, I have been contemplating the idea of creating an album particularly focused on the woman's body and their perfected flaws. I also want to discard the façade that every woman is shaped like a supermodel. If and when I decide to move forward with this project, all profits will go towards my college education. I have just been accepted for the Pell Grant offering $6,000 to any college I choose. Recently, I have been accepted into Colorado Mountain College with the goal of receiving my associates of science then moving forward to Hawaii Pacific University to pursue a career in Marine Biology. My motivation is to help make change in the ocean by removing pollution and man made trash. I want to raise awareness to protect the coral reefs and maintain marine life. Lastly, I want to be apart of discovering the 95% of the ocean that has yet to be studied. Thank you."
Deon'Tae Bates-Student Intern
Deon'Tae Bates is a Denver native who's mother grew up in Cole. Deon'Tae currently attends Prep Academy in NE Denver. He'll be starting at Open Door Tea Shop in March for a 12-week paid internship. He enjoys music and is an aspiring entrepreneur. "Transitioning from middle school to high school was difficult and I never imagined that I could be doing so well in school. Since coming to PREP Academy I have learned how to communicate and control my anger in more effective ways. I am excited to work for Open Door Tea Shop. Working at the Tea Shop is going to help me move forward toward my goal of owning my own business and communicate with people. This experience will help me become professional and teach me the skills I need to succeed." Deon'Tae has recently completed all the barista training at Novo Coffee and looks forward to getting to know the community.
Mari Crespin-Lattes and Canvases Instructor
Mari Crespin is a Denver native who's attending Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design pursing a Bachelor's of Fine Arts. Mari is the artist in Residence at 40 West Art District. She loves to dance, her favorites include blues and swing dancing. Mari is an artist who works with many different mediums including painting, drawing photography, performance and installation. Mari's work is focused on conection. Connecting between things, relationships and people.
Brigitte Thompson-Lattes and Canvas Instructor
Brigitte Thompson was born and raised in Denver Colorado. She enjoys music and dancing. Brigitte attended the Denver School of the Arts and is currently working towards obtaining her BFA at the Metropolitan State University of Denver.“My work focuses on the boundaries that set us apart in life and what lies in between them. Through my art I try to visually manifest this realm, this realm of what cannot be seen, but affects us nonetheless. The colors of our emotions, the beauty of the soul, and the bonds that keep us tethered to one another." Brigitte loves