What You Need To Know About Jenna Lyons’ Watermelon Skirt

The story below was written by Jenna Lyons and can be found in Lenny Letter. It is a self reflective piece called The Watermelon Skirt that Lenny Letter explains “takes us back to the moment Jenna, who lives with a genetic disorder, realized the power of clothes to initiate self-transformation’.

I hope you will read this story through the lens of a campaign called YesJCrewCane. I have spent the last three years asking Jenna Lyons and J. Crew to sell products made sensitively for people with disabilities. It is my belief that ‘Inclusive Retail’ will line the pockets of retailers while saving countless lives.

J. Crew simply won’t do it.

I hope your blood boils when you read this story. It feels unjust. Continue Reading →

Jenna Lyons Designed an Orange Wheelchair

Jenna Lyons has been incredibly quiet these last few months. And I don’t blame her, she’s the Creative Director of a company that has gone through a round of massive layoffs.

It just seems a little odd to me that in her first interview in months, this is how she chooses to answer the question “Where do you see yourself in another 25 years?”

“Oh my God…I’ve got my wheelchair designed! It’s going to be powder-coated in neon orange.” ~Jenna Lyons

Let me get this straight. I have been petitioning a company for the last 2 years, asking them to sell a cane. A powder-coated purple cane. And the Creative Director of that company suddenly answers an open ended question by saying she has a wheelchair designed? And the defining feature is its color?

I’m starting to wonder if we’re finally getting through to them.

Please, if you haven’t already, take a moment to sign.

YesJCrewCane: J. Crew Called!

If you’ve ever visited my blog, then you’re probably aware that I have invested a lot of time and energy pursuing J. Crew. Using the mantra YesJCrewCane, I have spent the past 16 months asking them if they would sell a cane. It has been my goal, from day one, to ease the stigma of assistive devices. J. Crew seemed like the perfect company (the only company) that would ‘get it’. So I started emailing them. And emailing them. And emailing them. Relentlessly.

But reaching out to J. Crew over the phone never seemed like a feasible option. First, I am not a phone talker. Second, do you know how strange it is calling a multi-billion dollar company, asking to speak to the CEO? Continue Reading →

A Sweet J. Crew Story

My friend Anne is an Optometrist. This profession requires she occasionally work on Saturdays. She just had the most wonderful run-in on the Subway with a J. Crew employee who was also heading to work. 

So many of you have asked me ‘Why J. Crew’? This is why. They are an aspirational company that hires wonderful people. I just want them to expand their brand to include everyBODY. I see the spirit of the brand.

I need to find this woman. I love her.

The Paradox of Featuring Fashion Week Models with Disabilities

It’s fashion week, and as has become the trend, designers are employing beautiful people living with disabilities to model their fashions on one of the biggest runways in the world.

Here’s the thing, there are no mainstream retailers or fashion designers making or marketing products for these disabled models. Disabled models are simply used to promote the universal concept of inclusion for brands who don’t actually sell or do anything inclusive. Continue Reading →

West Elm, meet Top & Derby’s Chatfield cane.

Dear West Elm,

I recently received an email from you titled “Our proudest moment of 2014…” and upon finding this in the contents:

West Elm Improving Quality of Life

I knew that I would be key to your proudest moment of 2015. Allow me to explain: Continue Reading →

Why Are Animals With Prosthetics Upworthy When People Aren’t?

After breaking his leg a few years back, Darryl Partridge found himself with an impossible decision: Live a life of pain or amputate. Two months ago, Darryl chose the latter and is already more mobile than he’s been in years. He is also in the process of getting fitted with his very first prosthetic.

Darryl is one of 2 million amputees living in the US right now, yet you will probably never hear his story. You will never celebrate his milestones. You’ll never feel his pain. Why? It’s quite simple, Darryl is not a dog: Continue Reading →

J. Crew, 600 Million Dollars is Chump Change

Hey J. Crew,

I heard some awkward news about you today. Seems like profits are down some 600 million dollars. And I can honestly say, that’s a lot of money. A lot. I’m on disability (FYI 2015 Goal: Get off Disability). But I did the math, and it would officially take me 500,000 months to earn 600 million dollars.

But I don’t have that kind of time, so I’m going to let you in on a little secret. There’s an untapped market. Literally and virtually untouched. And it’s waiting for you to break it open.  Continue Reading →

Really J. Crew? A 4 Year Old?

Note to readers: I have been writing letters to J. Crew, asking them to sell a beautiful cane. Retailers have begun to hire disabled people as models, but there has yet to be a retailer who will sell a fashion or device that caters to disabled people. I want J. Crew to be the first.

Dear J. Crew,

In my ‘Final Letter to J. Crew’ I said I was done writing letters to you. Which makes this letter to you a bit awkward. You can call me a liar, a flip flopper, a… nnoying. But you’ll never be able to call me a person of low morals. So here I am writing you again. Because on top of having high moral value, I am also persistent. And adorable.

… though not as adorable as an able bodied four year old. Continue Reading →

A Holiday Guide for Doctor Gifts

As someone with a chronic condition, I have grown close to a few very special doctors. So when it comes to the holiday season, I look forward to finding the perfect gift. One that’s appropriate while sincerely conveying my appreciation and gratitude. Last week I made the very first gift guide for people with disabilities. This week? Gifts for Doctors!  Continue Reading →

Life is Like: A Forrest Gump Photo Reenactment

It’s about the journey, not the disability.

Obstacle: a thing that blocks one’s way or hinders progress.

Society views disability as an obstacle. My experience feels much different.

For Forrest, “Mama always had a way of explaining things so I could understand them.” For me, Hanna Agar’s photos do that. It has been such an honor (and a blast) working with her. Continue Reading →

Holiday Gift Guide for People with Disabilities

There are holiday shopping guides for men and women. Catalogs filled with children’s toys. There are tech guides. Lists for the cooks in our lives. Don’t forget the travel and reading and music and sport holiday guides. But there is one holiday guide I have never seen. And I am so thrilled to bring it to you. This is the very first Holiday Gift Guide for People with Disabilities. I believe assistive devices have the potential to be just as covetable as that shiny new bike or a cashmere sweater. I truly hope this list gets a little bit longer next holiday season. Continue Reading →

Stroller Shopping vs. Wheelchair Shopping

I’m so thrilled to introduce you to my friend Amanda Berns. Amanda is a caring mother to two small children. She’s also a loving daughter to her wonderful father, David LeSueur. David is a kind and optimistic man who navigates the world in a wheelchair due to a Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis. Continue Reading →

My Final Letter to J. Crew

Dear J. Crew,

One of my first jobs out of college was as a production assistant to Ellen DeGeneres. My goal every day was to be speedy and stay happy. My most important responsibility was to get her food when her stomach started to rumble. It was a most unbelievable gig, especially for someone who had grown up in the midwest outside of any spotlight. After a couple of years I decided to follow my partner Megan to NYC. Our 9th anniversary is on the 22nd. 

Campfire Photo(I know, I know… My brother nicknamed me ‘Triangle Hair’) Continue Reading →