Just over 10 years ago, Alexandra Herold found it almost impossible to find fashionable clothing or accessories for people with disabilities or for those dealing with an illness.
It was a gap in the market the Santa Fe resident discovered while trying to find clothing and accessories for her mother, who had been diagnosed with brain cancer.
Herold said most of items that were available were often gray and looked like they came straight from a hospital or hospice.
This experience, and a childhood spent growing up alongside her disabled cousin, prompted her to create the online adaptive fashion website, Patti + Ricky.
Named after her mother and cousin, Patti + Ricky aims to be a one-stop-shop for adaptive fashion, or fashion geared for adults and children with disabilities, chronic medical issues, seniors and caregivers — and as of October, the company is now headquartered in Santa Fe.
While curating the items sold on the website, Herold said that it was equally important that the items are useful and beautiful.
She said she saw how her mother’s fashionable cane acted as an approachable topic of conversation and allowed her to talk with people about something other than her illness.
Much like her mother’s cane, Herold said the items on her website can act as a point of conversation or as a way to boost self-esteem.
As an online retailer Patti + Ricki brings hundreds of adaptive clothing items to a single space so customers can shop for their needs in one spot rather than having to search out multiple websites or stores.
She said it was important for her to bring the items to one spot because she saw how her aunt and uncle had to visit expos or travel in order to find clothing for her cousin.
“I try to eliminate that hunt for people so that it’s easy to find,” she said.
Herold said that her site features everything from magnetic shirts, bags for wheelchairs, jewelry for blind individuals, compression clothing to fidget jewelry.
Simple adjustments on clothing like adding fabric fasteners, magnets or zippers, Herold said, can really change a person’s quality of life.
“It makes … independent dressing possible for many people with disabilities,” she said. “Most of the time, it also works for people without disabilities.”
Most of the items are designed by people with disabilities or people with family members with disabilities.
Herold said she wants to continue to grow the number of items available and the website has a suggestion box for people to request particular items.
“If one person needs it, (then) so many more people … are looking for it and need it,” she said.
Aside from growing the number of products on her site, Herold said she wants to see adaptive fashion enter the mainstream.
Just recently, her company partnered with JCPenney to feature some of the items on the department store’s website.
“I really think the time for inclusion in retail and in the fashion industry is now,” Herold said.
For more information, visit pattiandricky.com.
Pilar Martinez covers retail and commercial real estate for the Journal. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.