This former medical student turned her love for fashion into a brand of tailored clothing
Elena Cortez-Neavel is a Texan, founder and CEO of Abilitee Adaptive Wear. It is a clothing brand that researches, designs and develops suitable clothing and accessories.
âI still like to do things that weren’t there. I sewed my own clothes in middle school and high school,â¦ I had a wonderful time just with a sewing machine, sometimes in my hand, ruining my mom’s pillow cases and turning them into dresses.
âFashion is not in vain; it’s a very important functional thingâ¦ and it’s also a reflection of our culture, and sometimes, precedes culture changes. â¦ Fashion can be a starting point for conversations.
âOne-fifth to one-quarter of the world’s population is disabled. And that’s something I didn’t know before I started this job. A big part of this is the fact that we’ve kind of left behind and forgotten about people with disabilities in terms of the home experience. How do they manage their insulin pump? How do they deal with their colostomy bag or their chemotherapy port that just stays in their chest? “
âThis is something thatâ¦ really surprised me. I couldn’t believe that no one made clothes for such a large population. And I just decided that if it’s not that hard, if it’s just a matter of where to put different openings [and] what materials to use, it can’t be that hard. And there is no new technology or new manufacturing technique to develop to make suitable clothing. It’s just that the designersâ¦ didn’t put the components of the clothes together in such a way that they were adaptive.
âWe currently have an insulin pump belt, which is probably our most popular item. It debuted on the aerie.com sub-brand of American Eagle. â¦ And it went viral. This has been seen like 4 million times in a matter of days. And since then it’s just one of our # 1 products. While something can be simple. â
âOne of the hurdlesâ¦ for small adaptive brands right now is that if you order small volumes from your manufacturers, it’s often very, very premium. So you can’t make any money unless you charge your customers a lot, which we refuse to do.
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