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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.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Conference Begins

At last the doors open and slowly people start to wander into the exhibitor’s hall.  Finally, people began to stop by our table.  We would explain about our clothing line and show them our jeans and shirts.  We explained that we were here only for testing purposes and that we were not selling our jeans at this point.  The response was overwhelming.  Parents were so excited and couldn’t wait for us to have our jeans available.   
Our first jeans and shirts were strictly for adults.  Most of our conversations were with the parents but many of the adults with Down syndrome were also excited to hear about our clothes.   The parents would tell us about their struggles to find clothes for their children and we explained that, in time, we would eventually have a full line.
We finally started to get some volunteers to try on our jeans and some even tried on a shirt.  Sometimes we were met with resistance and a little stubbornness and the parents would have to talk a few of their children into trying on our jeans.  But after they changed their clothes, I would ask if I could take their pictures and they immediately turned into America’s Next Top Model.  They posed for me every time like a pro.
We were amazed at the transformations.  Some of the parents wanted to take our samples home and were ready to order from us right there.  But, at this point, we were not prepared to sell anything.  This trip was only an opportunity for us to see how our jeans and shirts fit.  Not everyone tried on the shirts, but our main focus was on the jeans.  Our sizing was very successful for almost everyone, although there were a few that the fit was just not good.   
We listened to the comments by the parents; we heard what they had to say about the challenges of finding clothes.  We listened to what they didn’t like about our jeans, too.  The one thing we noticed a lot was how some of our volunteers pushed the waistbands down under their bellies when they put on the jeans and their parents told us that they wore all their pants like that.
Seeing how often this happened, we thought this might be a sensory issue, that some of these people didn’t like having anything around their waists.  So Jillian and I decided to try to create a style just for them.  We decided to call them our “Dip Downs”.  We thought we could design a pair of jeans with a full elastic waistband that would cover the hips in the back but come done slightly under the belly in the front.  When we got home, we would have to see how we could create this style.
The other major change we decided to make was the waistband itself.  The ribbed band that we originally used just didn’t make the jeans look like jeans.  It made them appear more childish.  Even though they were comfortable, we wanted our jeans to look like every other pair of jeans you buy in the store, accept that ours would fit a person with Down syndrome.
The next changes we would have to make were some adjustments to the T shirts.  We decided we couldn’t have a man’s and woman’s shirt.  We saw a need to create a shirt just for the ladies with a fuller figure and make a unisex shirt for men of all sizes and for smaller ladies who did not need the extra width across the bottom.  Other small changes also needed to be made as well.
After three days of spending time with so many wonderful people, it was time to pack up and head home.  We knew we had more work to do on our adult sizes once we got back but we even found a little time to relax by the pool.


  1. The pool did look relaxing!

    Good idea about the Dip style and also the shirts for smaller women (who don't need the extra fabric).

  2. Hi Adelaide, I hadn't checked my comments in a while, I am glad that there is someone reading them. I really write these so I can remember my journey. This is the most important thing I have ever done in my life and it want to document every experience. I am getting busier these days as we are finally ready to launch our jeans and shirts. It's moment in time that I can't believe is finally going to happen. But we're working on so many other things, my excitement is really hard to contain.