Why Gigi’s Playhouse?

Daniela Waterhouse

The Gigi’s Playhouse began in Chicago when Nancy Gianni saw the lack of resources for her daughter, Gigi, who had Down syndrome. Determined to make a change, Nancy set out to create a place where children with Down syndrome and their parents could gather and support one another, as well as engage in educational, therapeutic, and career training services. Gigi’s Playhouse evolved over time and opened chapters in cities across the United States, and even in Mexico! Today there are 58 Gigi’s Playhouses and the organization continues to grow.

In 2016, Gigi’s Playhouse came to Raleigh through the hard work of its founding director Jeanhee Hoffman. Jeanhee had her own personal connection to the Down syndrome community and to the Gigi’s Playhouse organization through her brother Sam, who had participated in the Gigi U program as well as Hugs n Mugs, a coffee shop that teaches customer service and other transferable career skills.

Moon Angel’s founder Daniela has been inspired for years by all the amazing things Gigi’s Playhouse does for our local community. As she launched the brigadeiro business, she knew she wanted to be a part of it. Through our partnership, we met Elizabeth and Cara, who became some of our first employees. These inspiring women are a key part of our team, helping process and package our delicious chocolates. They weigh the massa (the base of the brigadeiro, similar to dough), roll it into the traditional brigadeiro shapes, and then apply the sprinkles. They also help with our events, showing guests their expert techniques and judging our “make your own brigadeiro” competitions!

It has been such a pleasure to work with Elizabeth and Cara and learn about their lives. Elizabeth has an internship through Gigi’s, is a greeter at a local athletic boutique, and participated in rush week at North Carolina State University. She got down many of the sorority cheers! Cara has a love for dark chocolate brigadeiros, and definitely wants you to try that particular one if you get to pick from any of our flavors. She also is a dedicated bowler, and doesn’t miss a Wednesday! Both girls take a special interest in our customers, wanting to remember their birthday or sincerely asking “how’s your family?”

We first started working with Gigi’s Playhouse because we were inspired by their mission. As time has passed, we have also come to realize how much we were meant to work with Elizabeth and Cara in particular! They add a special touch to that makes Moon Angel Sweets so much sweeter.