A little over 10 years ago, Alexandra Herold found it nearly impossible to find fashionable clothes or accessories for people with disabilities or those dealing with an illness.
It was a gap in the market that the Santa Fe resident discovered while trying to find clothes and accessories for her mother, who had been diagnosed with brain cancer.
Herold said most of the items available were often gray and appeared to come directly 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 towards adults and children with disabilities, chronic medical problems, the elderly and carers – and since October, the company is now headquartered in Santa Fe.
While curating the items sold on the website, Herold said it was equally important that the items were useful and beautiful.
She said she saw how her mother’s trendy cane served as an accessible topic of conversation and allowed her to talk to people about something other than her illness.
Much like his mother’s cane, Herold said articles on his website can serve as a talking point or as a way to boost self-esteem.
As an online retailer, Patti + Ricki brings hundreds of adaptive apparel into one space so customers can shop for their needs in one place rather than having to search multiple websites or stores.
She said it was important for her to take items to one place because she saw how her aunt and uncle had to visit exhibits or travel to find clothes for her cousin.
“I try to get rid of that people hunt so it’s easy to find,” he said.
Herold said her site offers everything from magnetic shirts, wheelchair bags, jewelry for the blind, compression garments to restless jewelry.
Simple adjustments on clothing like adding fabric closures, magnets or zippers, Herold said, can really change a person’s quality of life.
“It makes … it possible for many people with disabilities to dress independently,” she said. “Most of the time it also works for people without disabilities.”
Most of the articles are designed by people with disabilities or people with family members with disabilities.
Herold said he wants to keep increasing the number of articles available, and the website has a suggestion box where people can request particular articles.
“If one person needs it, (then) so many other people … are looking for it and need it,” he said.
In addition to growing the number of products on his site, Herold said he wants to see adaptive fashion enter the mainstream.
Just recently, his company partnered with JCPenney to feature some of the items on the department store’s website.
“I really think the time has come for inclusion in the retail and fashion industry,” Herold said.
For more information, visit pattiandricky.com.
Pilar Martinez does retail and commercial real estate for the Journal. She can be reached at email@example.com.