A born fashion-lover, I was always excited about school picture day. On this particular picture day, I’d chosen my favorite floppy-collar, belted, fit-and-flare dress—and was prepared to flash the brightest smile as the camera clicked. I was caught off-guard, however, when the photographer stepped into the frame and adjusted my hands to cover my missing thumb. My excitement—and smile—immediately dissipated...and my lifelong journey to help others see and celebrate the strength and beauty of people with disabilities began.
Policy maker | Disability fashion stylist |
TEDx speaker | Congenital amputee | On-air personality | Voice actor | History buff | Hot yogi.
My journey is as non-linear as it gets—but I have my meandering path to thank for the insight, tenacity, and resolve that inform every aspect of the way I work with clients to this day. As someone who was always enamored with music, theatre, and dance, I spent two years as a professional cheerleader and captain for the Chicago Bulls cheerleading squad (despite being told I may never be able to walk independently due to my non-severe disability), and earned my first graduate degree in communications with an emphasis in theatre.
In 1992, I competed in the Miss Kentucky preliminary pageant and, out of necessity, began researching and following clothing trends for people with disabilities. I had no intention of starting a business—I simply wanted to find solutions for challenges related to dressing with disabilities. The problem was there weren’t any—and it was that realization that started me on my now 30-year journey of educating the public on ableism in the fashion industry and working to change it.
After my countless inquiries to iconic fashion houses were met with little interest, I decided I couldn’t wait for the industry to change—I needed to change the industry. I went on to develop my now award-winning Disability Fashion Styling System® in 2004, earned a second graduate degree in fashion journalism in 2006, and, in 2018 turned my disability fashion styling blog (then called Luv What U Wear) into Cur8able—an acclaimed company that has served brands ranging from Nike to Zappos as it works to eradicate ableism in the fashion industry while empowering people with disabilities to dress with confidence.
Today, I help executives, leaders, and academics better reach and serve people with disabilities through my work as a speaker, author, stylist, and lobbyist. I’ve appeared on national television outlets and in industry-leading publications, have become the go-to Hollywood stylist for actors with disabilities, have coined language that’s now commonly used in the zeitgeist to discuss dressing people with disabilities, and have spent 25 years as a sought-after voice actor….but more so than accolades or appearances, it’s my authentic lifelong connection to the disabled community that gives me credibility and brings me joy.