This former medical student turned her love for fashion into a brand of tailored clothing

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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.

The founder of Abilitee, Elena Cortez-Neavel. Courtesy photo

“I still like to do things that weren’t there. I sewed my own clothes in middle school and high school,… 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.

“Fashion is not in vain; it’s a very important functional thing… and it’s also a reflection of our culture, and sometimes, precedes culture changes. … Fashion can be a starting point for conversations.

“One-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? “

“This is something that… 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 designers… didn’t put the components of the clothes together in such a way that they were adaptive.

“We currently have an insulin pump belt, which is probably our most popular item. It debuted on the aerie.com sub-brand of American Eagle. … 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. ”

“One of the hurdles… 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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