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I have a beautiful granddaughter who was born with Down syndrome. She has enough challenges to face in her life and I want to make sure that finding appropriately fitting clothes will not be one of them.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

An Idea Becomes a Reality


Maggie and Bridget
 I remember this day like it was yesterday. It was a Sunday in August of 2009. I was visiting my daughter, Michelle. She has four of my eleven grandchildren: Sean, Patrick, Bridget and Maggie. Maggie was 4 years old at the time and was born with Down syndrome. I really didn’t know very much about Down syndrome and had never really known anyone who had children with Down syndrome. I just knew I loved her very much and nothing else really mattered.


Michelle was getting Maggie dressed at the time and, as usual, rolling up her sleeves and pant legs. She was so frustrated with her clothing situation but even then, I didn’t realize what a big problem that was. Michelle turned to me and said, “Boy Mom, if you want to start a good business, you should make clothes for people with Down syndrome.” She went on to explain all the difficulties she had with proper fitting clothes. She had other friends who had children with Down syndrome and they all struggled the same way. We talked about it for awhile and I just laughed at the idea because I was already so busy how could I possibly have time for one more thing in my life?

I kept asking myself all the way home what did I know about clothes and what did I really know about Down syndrome? So when I got home, I got on the internet and thought I would do a little research and also see if I could order something for Maggie. I was sure there must be something available on line. Well, to my surprise there were no clothing options specific for a person with Down syndrome. My head exploded! Didn’t anyone have something that would fit her appropriately?

I couldn’t stop thinking about this. I must have called Michelle about 10 or 15 times that day. I had a million questions. I wanted to know more. At first I thought that the clothes just needed to be shortened and that would solve the problem. So I thought about the idea of buying clothes and hiring someone to hem them. I started researching body types of people with Down syndrome. I spent hours on the internet looking at photographs of Down syndrome conferences and Special Olympics. I was amazed at the differences. I researched statistics on height and weight issues.

As the weeks went by and I began to seriously look into this matter, people were popping into my life as if it were a plan. Answers to questions just fell into place. The idea of buying clothes already made and hemming them was very short lived; their body shapes were just too different. The only solution was to actually make a special clothing line.

Boy, what did I know about that business; how would I begin? But as I had questions, someone came along with the answers. My friend and owner of the salon I had worked was an incredible entrepreneur. We had conversations about my clothing line idea. She said she knew a teacher at the design school in Cleveland and suggested I contact him and ask him what he thought. I contacted this fellow and we talked for a long time; he explained about the process of designing clothes. It was very complicated…what had I gotten myself into? He gave me the name of some other teachers at the school that may be able to be more helpful. Another very nice woman explained about designers and specification writers. It was quite involved and a very specialized field.

I really struggled with this idea, but I couldn’t let it go. There was something driving me that kept me going. One day, I was passing by a well-known tailoring shop in the neightborhood that specialized in hand-made suits. My neighbor across the street just happened to be the owner. I pulled my car into their parking lot and decided I would see if they would give me a moment of their time.

It seems like there have been no coincidences in my journey. You won’t believe what happened next. The tailor was very helpful. He explained the difficulty in designing clothes and all that was involved. I told him the school had explained that I would need a specification writer and they were very difficult to find. He agreed but said he knew a young lady who might be able to help. He didn’t know her phone number so I only had her name. I came home that day and tried to locate this person … no luck.

A few weeks had gone by and I received a phone call from one of the design teachers at the school who was finally able to return my call. She was very interested in my project and wanted to help in any way she could. We talked about finding someone to help me and said she would make a few calls. Later she called back with the name of a young woman who said she would be glad to be of assistance. Guess who it was…yes it was same woman that the tailor had suggested. I couldn’t believe it! This was the sign…I knew I was supposed to do this…Karen

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