Friday, July 19, 2013

Up About Down: Designs for Girls with DS

Did you know that the National Down Syndrome Congress Annual Convention is taking place right now in Denver? The convention, designed for parents, other family members, and caregivers, began this afternoon and will conclude on the 21st. It has a variety of events, like sharing sessions, workshops, and even a film festival. But what I would like to share with all of you is the roundabout way I found out about NDSC Convention.

*Guilty Pleasure Alert!*
I was actually doing some research on a designer from the new season of Project Runway which, to my pleasant surprise, began last night. Justin LeBlanc of North Carolina is the first deaf designer to compete on that show. Pretty awesome, right? My research on LeBlanc led me to an article about new designer, Ashley DeRamus.

At this year's NDSC convention, DeRamus is launching her brand new clothing line for women with Down Syndrome. The idea for her line, Ashley By Design, formed about a year ago when DeRamus and her mother, Connie, found that like DeRamus, many other girls with Down Syndrome often paid as much for alterations as they did for the clothes themselves. DeRamus, whose clothing line's motto is "up about down", decided that girls like her deserve to look and feel good in clothes that were made for their bodies.

Many women have a hard time finding just the right fit, but this challenge is augmented for those with Down Syndrome, who often have smaller torsos and shorter legs. DeRamus thought there obviously was a market for cute clothes that women with Down Syndrome not only would want to wear, but actually could wear without paying a fortune in alterations. It's not just about the clothes, either; DeRamus hopes that by helping girls like her look nice, those girls will have more confidence and higher self-esteem.

At this point, the website for Ashley By Design is up and, along with some of her designs, it features a bio, a note from her mother, and some photos and news where—to bring this all back around—I found a photo of DeRamus with Project Runway's Tim Gunn! (I thought it was a neat coincidence, at any rate.)

Anyway, the point is that I think it's fantastic that someone saw that there was a big hole in the clothing industry, a whole market of ignored consumers, and decided to do something about it. Go give her website a look!

Also, for those interested in the NDSC convention, online recordings will be available from the end of the convention until June 2014.

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