In our interview series we were excited to sit down with Mindy Scheier. Mindy is an amazing mom and go-getter that has incredible background in the fashion and disability landscape. In 2014, Mindy started the Runway of Dreams Foundation (RoDF), but before that she spent 20 years working in fashion on the design team for the INC collection and as a stylist for Saks Fifth Avenue.
Mindy was inspired to start RoDF after her son Oliver, who has muscular dystrophy, dreamed of wearing jeans like everyone else. While talking to her, Mindy told us that her son had been wearing sweatpants to school and one day came home and asked why he couldn’t wear jeans like everyone else. She said that night, she made a pair of adaptive jeans with different closures that would make it easier for Oliver to put on and take off. With this experience, she said she instantly saw dignity and independence being restored in her sons life. He was able to do something all the able bodied kids could do, he could dress himself, and feel better about it too! After using her design skills to adapt pants that met his needs and increased his confidence, she went on to conduct extensive research to develop modifications that would meet the needs of other people with disabilities. The clothing adaptations she developed include alternate closures, adjustability and alternative ways to dress and undress. Following its launch, RoDF partnered with Tommy Hilfiger on the first mainstream adaptive clothing line for kids in 2016.
Founded on the basis that clothing is a basic human need, RoDF develops, delivers and supports initiatives to broaden the reach of mainstream adaptive clothing and promote people with disabilities in the fashion industry. They provide numerous services including adaptive clothing donations, employment opportunity initiatives, adaptive design workshops, adaptive fashion shows, wardrobe grants, awareness building campaigns and scholarship programs. RoDF empowers people with disabilities to express their style. Mindy serves as a consultant for Tommy Adaptive, is a member of the Advisory Council for Zappos Adaptive, and works to educate many other fashion brands on the population of people with disabilities. Envisioning a world where fashion is mainstream and accessible for all, Mindy continues to break down barriers and challenge industry norms.
Amazingly, in 2019 due to the overwhelming amount of requests Mindy received at RoDF from a multitude of brands and industries for connection to PWDs, Mindy created Gamut Talent Management. Gamut was made to represent people with disabilities and create a marketplace where businesses and industries can connect to this target audience. Gamut is rebranding the way PWDs are viewed, marketed to and represented in the mainstream world. The continued support of the mission of Runway of Dreams will always be a component of Gamut, as the company’s 501c3 partner.
Mindy has been featured in Newsweek’s “The Creative Class of 2019: Innovators,” People magazine’s “Heroes Among Us” and Pix 11’s “Changemaker: Making the Fashion Industry More Inclusive.” She has also been featured in USA Today, Parents, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Vogue Business, WWD, NBC’s Today, ABC’s Good Morning America, Access, CNBC, Fox News Channel and more.
An inspiring TED speaker, Mindy has received numerous awards including the Catalyst Award for “Marketing Influencer of the Year,” Citrin Cooperman’s “Women at the Wheel Leadership Excellence Award, the Association of Image Consultants International Bravo Award and Enable Inc.’s Michael Graves Award for Creativity and Persistence. Mindy studied Fashion Design with a dual program at the University of Vermont and Fashion Institute of Technology.
Some of the biggest points Mindy touched on was the importance of clothing and how we present ourselves to the world. That the way we dress impacts our confidence and function in life. She stressed the importance in coming together as a united front to express the need there is for adaptive fashion. The Runway of Dreams fashion shows are still happening during the COVID-19 pandemic, and are virtual.
Wareologie develops assistive devices to restore levels of independence and self-care, allowing people to maintain their dignity. Founded in 2019 with support from the Michigan Small Business Development Center (MI-SBDC) and Lawrence Technological University’s Centrepolis Accelerator, Wareologie is an FDA, certified WBENC company committed to manufacturing in Michigan.