Who she is:
Mindy Scheier, mama of three, fashion industry veteran, and founder of Runway of Dreams.
Why we think she's one of the #MomsMakingWaves:
She convinced an industry that “the future of fashion is inclusion.”
How she did it:
Mindy showed fashion industry icons that many of the world’s one billion people with disabilities like to look fly too.
“This is an enormous population that wasn’t being served by an industry that believed the community of people with disabilities was too small to matter, and that people with disabilities didn’t care about fashion," she said. "Those things weren't true.”
How she got her start:
Mindy's eyes were opened to the need for adaptive clothing when her 8-year-old son Oliver, who suffers from a rare form of muscular dystrophy, asked why he couldn’t wear jeans to school like his friends.
“I said, 'tomorrow, you’re wearing jeans to school.' And then I sat at my kitchen table crying, and MacGyvering the hell out of a pair of jeans. When I gave them to Oliver the next morning, he beamed.”
The aha moment:
“I realized there must be other people with disabilities who want to reflect who they are through what they wear," she said. "I believe changing the fashion industry to include them is why I was put on this earth, and why Oliver is my son.”
She immersed herself in the community of people with disabilities for an entire year.
“I visited hospitals, schools, and facilities, researched everything I could and occasionally chased down people on the street," she said. "I knew if I was going to take this vision to the mainstream fashion industry, I needed to know my facts.”
“Once I felt confident, I talked to everyone I could in the industry. When we connected with Tommy Hilfiger, we discovered that our mission aligned with the company’s core values," she said. "We launched the first mainstream line of adaptive clothing for kids in February 2016 and every season, the line grows more robust.”
Clothing that's really not so different:
“We have petites, we have plus size, we have maternity. All of those are mainstream. We are just adding adaptive," she said.
For the fashion industry to be truly inclusive, people with disabilities need a place at the table. And on the runways.
“We have created a lookbook of more than 400 people with disabilities who are available to model, and also set up a scholarship fund for students who want to focus on creating adaptive clothing and for people with disabilities who want to work in fashion and continue our mission to educate and transform the industry," she said.
Speaking of runways:
This September, Runway of Dreams will kick off New York City’s Fashion Week with a runway show that will give industry leaders the chance to witness real change.
On hard days:
Even this mama on a mission has days when it all seems just too hard.
“I give myself a finite period of time, usually 24 hours," she said. "Then I pick myself up and get back to work."
How you can help:
“I would love people to continue the conversation," she said. "To think about the process of getting dressed every morning and realize that not everyone gets to make those choices.”
Want to know more about Mindy Scheier's work? Visit runwayofdreams.org or check out her TED Talk.