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Episode 21: There is Always a Way Forward: Pioneer and Fashion Designer, Mindy Scheier

Mindy's Headshot

Before founding Runway of Dreams Foundation (RoDF) in 2014, Mindy Scheier spent 20 years working in fashion on the design team for the INC collection and as a stylist for Saks Fifth Avenue.

Mindy was inspired to start RoDF after her son Oliver, who has Muscular Dystrophy, dreamed of wearing jeans like everyone else. After using her design skills to adapt a pair that met his needs and increased his confidence, she went on to conduct extensive research to develop modifications — including alternate closures, adjustability of waistbands, pant and sleeve lengths and alternative ways to get in and out of the clothing. Following launch, RoDF collaborated with Tommy Hilfiger on the first mainstream adaptive clothing line for kids in 2016.

Mindy’s work with RoDF expands beyond adaptive clothing. Founded on the basis that clothing is a basic human need, the Runway of Dreams Foundation develops, delivers and supports initiatives to broaden the reach of mainstream adaptive clothing and promote the differently-abled community in the fashion industry. Through adaptive clothing donations, employment opportunity initiatives, adaptive design workshops, awareness building campaigns and scholarships programs, RoDF is empowering people with disabilities with opportunity, confidence, independence and style. Envisioning a world where fashion is mainstream and accessible for all, Mindy continues to break down barriers and challenge industry norms.

Erik, Jeff, and Dave connected with Mindy to talk about the leaps and bounds she’s made in the field of accessible fashion for people with physical and cognitive disabilities. Although she had been in the fashion world for years she was unaware of the lack of consideration given to those with alternate needs until her son, Oliver, who was born with muscular dystrophy, wanted to fit in with his friends – fashion-wise.

“In my entire career in fashion there was never a thought of the challenges people with disabilities faced.”

Mindy talked about the emotional and personal struggles that came with having a child with a disability that wasn’t immediately diagnosable and how ultimately her situation provided inspiration to help others.

“I could help not just Oliver’s life but the millions of people out there who are experiencing the same thing. This gave me a sense of purpose in a situation where I felt helpless.”

Our hosts dive into the Pioneering process Mindy went through from creating jeans in her living room to having an accessible line with Tommy Hilfiger and founding RoDF. Listen and let us know what you think and subscribe to hear more No Barriers stories.

Check out Mindy’s [Runway of Dreams Foundation and keep up with their latest news!

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——- EPISODE TRANSCRIPT ———

Mindy:             I could help them understand that just by making modifications to the product that already exists could help millions of people. It’s not going to be perfect, it’s not going to be custom, but if it makes life easier for this enormous population? Why wouldn’t they do it?

Erik:                 It’s easy to talk about the successes, but what doesn’t get talked about enough is the struggle. My name is Erik Weihenmayer. I’ve gotten a chance to ascend Mount Everest, to climb the tallest mountain in every continent, to kayak the Grand Canyon. And I happen to blind.

Erik:                 It’s been a struggle to live what I call a no-barriers life; to define it; to push the parameters of what it means. And part of the equation is diving into the learning process, and trying to illuminate the universal elements that exist along the way. In that unexplored terrain between those dark places we find ourselves in, in the summit, exists a map. That map, that way forward, is what we call No Barriers.

Dave:                Today we meet Mindy Scheier, who translated her experience and expertise in the fashion world to develop and deliver clothing with adaptive modifications to better serve the differently-abled community in a mainstream way. She founded Runway of Dreams Foundation in 2014, and in 2016 collaborated with Tommy Hilfiger on the first mainstream adaptive clothing line for kids.

Dave:                Her dream started when she designed a pair of jeans for her son, Oliver, who has muscular dystrophy and who wanted to wear what everyone else was wearing. Envisioning a world where fashion is mainstream and accessible for all, Mindy continues to break down barriers and challenge industry norms. You can come hear Mindy speak at our Innovation Panel at the No Barriers Summit this June.

Dave:                Welcome everybody to our No Barriers podcast. This is Dave Shurna, one of the founders and the executive director of No Barriers. We are thrilled today to have Mindy Scheier on our podcast. I can’t wait to have a conversation with her, I think you’re going to find it to be enlightening and powerful. We first heard of Mindy through her TED Talk, which was a phenomenal talk that she gave. Make sure you have a box of tissues ready when you go and watch that. We’ll put the TED Talk link in our show notes here, and Mindy’s going to be a speaker at our No Barriers Summit in June in Lake Tahoe.

Dave:                So Erik and Jeff, great to have you guys here.

 

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