May 25, 2020

3. Mindy Scheier | Changing the Fashion Game

Changing the landscape of fashion, Mindy Scheier spoke with us about her experience as a special needs mother as well as how she created her foundation, Runway of Dreams and her new venture Gamut Management. She gave us some insight on her must need to see TED Talk and her perseverance when deciding to fill a need for this community that is quickly becoming the largest minority.


[00:01:13] Welcome Mindy Scheier, um, of runway of dreams and gamut management now. Right. Yes. Thank you. Thank you. So thanks for being on the show. We're super excited to have you I've been like extra excited for this interview. It's like having a celebrity to me. Like you were like our dream guest. It was actually, Oh my gosh.

[00:01:36] Like, so we're, we're, we'll get to it, but your Ted talk. Oh my God. Thank you. It was a definite highlight of my life. To be able to have shared the story on that platform. It was tremendous, tremendous. Oh, so this is, this is like this, this is our like first like, Oh my God, we're really doing stuff we all are really doing.

[00:02:02] So thank you. We really appreciate that. Yeah. So I don't know if you know, so our, this podcast is not only, is it just an opportunity to chat and talk with everybody, but we are free to stay and talk, however you feel. Um, we always have. A glass while we're interviewing, because usually it's been a long day at work.

[00:02:21] Um, so you guys welcome right guys too as well, but, um, we just want everyone to feel comfortable while we're chatting, you know, it's super impersonal. Um, so to start off off the bat, tell us a little bit about yourself. You know, you're from Vermont, right? That's where you kind of. No, I'm from, I grew up outside of Philadelphia.

[00:02:45] I went to college at university of Vermont. So maybe that's where he got that. And now I live outside of Manhattan. Okay, awesome. So you're a city girl. I think so. Yeah, I am, but, but you know, the children require. Grass and running around. So we had, we moved to the suburbs. Yeah. Oh, so you guys, we believe in, uh, you know, um, free grazing too.

[00:03:10] So we fenced in, you know, frisky. I have free range children. Yeah. I like that. We, if I had my way, we'd be in the city. If Eddie had his way, we'd be in the country, like deep, deep, deep country. Um, and she just wants to be like smack dab in between like two sky rises. Like. I can't, uh, I can't, people are, people are cool in small doses, so this must be good for you then.

[00:03:38] Oh, this is this. I love it. Oh my gosh. Well, okay. First of all, you know, you love it too. So like the house is clean, everything's organized, um, like our storage is organized. Like all the decorations are organized. Um, My garage is organized. No, none of the above. I have them. I'll ship them right to you right now, real done with them.

[00:04:00] So tell us a little bit about, you know, so you, like you mentioned, you're in New Jersey, you've got your husband, you have three kids, right? So tell us a little bit about that. Uh, my daughter's a senior in high school, unfortunately it's really crappy senior year. Um, and then, uh, my Oliver, my child with muscular dystrophy is 15.

[00:04:23] And then I have a little guy Bo, who is 10, not even little now. 10. That's crazy. It's like call like your little one's little, but it was when I, you know, now I've become a fourth grade teacher, which I am not qualified to be in any stretch of the imagination. It's crazy. I'm not qualified to be a second grade teacher right now.

[00:04:43] And I'm just like, just. Wing it like, I'm like, there's no more common corner house on that. Off to me. We keep talking about that teacher right now, which is pretty good. I'm pretty good. Yeah. So I'm not going to be the teacher. I like it. Yeah. So you said your middle child has muscular dystrophy. Um, for those of our listeners, because we have listeners with children who, or who have special needs, children who don't have special needs, um, and they're all across the gambit.

[00:05:14] Tell us a little bit about what muscular muscular dystrophy is. So, um, muscular, muscular dystrophy is a neuromuscular disease that, um, in our case is genetic. Um, however, nobody in either of our family lines had any type of muster, just your face. So all of our is, as our geneticists explained to us as close to impossible as she's ever seen in her career, that both my husband and I had the same mutation of the same exact gene.

[00:05:47] Found each other and got married and had kids and all of our select the winner that we got the mutation from both of us, um, and his form of muscular dystrophy is called rigid spine, which is incredibly rare. He's one of 70 cases in the world. So they are literally learning from him from, as he is.

[00:06:10] Growing up, trying to understand, um, the disease and how it affects the body. Muscular dystrophies in, in general are, um, degenerative muscular diseases. So your muscles will break down over time. It just depends on the strain that you have, how quick it happens. Um, you know, again, an Alvarez case there.

[00:06:34] They're just really not sure. So thankfully I think in the scheme of things, his, his degeneration is relatively slow and he's still, ambulatories certainly lost a lot of, um, capabilities that he used to have that he can no longer do. But, um, he. I think leads a fairly typical life. He goes to public school.

[00:07:00] He, you know, has wonderful accommodations, but is able to really, I think lead, um, as typical 15 year old life can be. Yeah. Like, is there medications to help slow down the degeneration for muscular dystrophy or is it kind of just a wait and see kind of thing? Unfortunately, or it certainly for his version and I don't maybe for Duchenne's now they might have some medication, which is another form of muscular dystrophy, but, uh, for all verse form, there is, there's nothing that we, but I would assume with more kids like Oliver and the more involved you guys get, there must be more research kind of slowly creeping up or.

[00:07:45] Well, I think it's, unfortunately, one of those situations that when you have limited resources, you know, for research and whatnot, you're. Focus has to be on the strains that are the most popular places in the world doesn't even get you barely. Um, you know, look, I think they're doing what they can.

[00:08:07] Apparently they're doing some research in, um, France. Um, but we try to do everything that we can do to help future generations. All Virgos. We'd take up, take him down to the NIH national Institute of health, to have everything documented about what's happening, you know, to him and his muscle strength. And they'd take pictures of him at different stages of his life.

[00:08:34] And so I can only hope that someday this helps some other kids or adults that are. Diagnosed. Yeah. Well, especially cause I know like for us even like just going to clinic and how regularly we have to go to things, how it's a lot on Eddie. It's a lot on us. It's draining. It's exhausting. So you hope that by doing that, like every time they ask us, do you want to participate in this?

[00:09:00] Do you want to push us to be in this trial? Or I always, we always say yes, I don't think we've ever said no. And we've said no one time that it was this last time. And it was because Eddie was just very scared. And that was my kind of red flag to be like, I'm not gonna, we don't wanna participate if it's, if he's going to be too scared to do something, that's just traumatizing.

[00:09:20] We'll catch it the next round. But other than that, we've always said yes, because all I can think is as much as this is exhausting for us. It can be something someone else will just never have to worry about if we can help something. So it must be the, I would assume it's the same for you guys making those trips to NIH and doing all those things is hopefully helping someone in the future.

[00:09:44] Well, hopefully he'll have a good story one day to you, you know, you're going to have, he's going to be an inspirational little kid where he's going to have. A story of his own to be able to kind of hopefully inspire other kids as well. Absolutely. I mean, we already have his college essay written at this point and then wrote itself.

[00:10:01] Yeah, exactly. I mean, nevermind the college, Jesse, you guys got a pretty good novel. I would say that's pretty good. Maybe someday. I don't know. Netflix will pick it up. I swear to God and they,

[00:10:16] but the interesting thing is that. Um, and I don't know if you guys felt the same way, but when Oliver was finally diagnosed and it took four years to get a diagnosis, they had absolutely no idea what was happening, why he wasn't meeting milestones, they was losing ridiculous amounts of weight. And he was my second.

[00:10:41] So I knew that he should have been doing things when he, when he could, based on my daughter. Um, and so number one, I think it's very hard when doctors say to you, you just may never know he might be a medical mystery. Dan is as a parent, probably one of the most difficult things that, that we went through was just the complete unknown of.

[00:11:07] You don't even know what path to go down if you don't even know what your child has. But then when we did get diagnosed, thankfully, um, I had no idea what messages to be. Was it, to me, it was the Jerry Lewis telethon every year, you know, during September. And that was my extent of knowledge of the disease.

[00:11:30] So, you know, not only do you have to come to a new normal that it's your child. That has this disease, but you have to get yourself educated on what this disease even is. So, you know, it's a really, um, It's really challenging time. I think, as a parent, um, that at the time it can feel, and still sometimes feels very lonely.

[00:11:58] That's why us, why him? Why were we, you know, the ones that had to have the same mutation, but as you said, as you know, I allow myself maybe. I, I give myself 24 hours to ever have a pity party. Um, if things get difficult or he has a challenging doctor's appointment, and then, you know, you got to come out, you got to come out of that cave and say, well, I am so grateful that Albert brought all of this into our worlds.

[00:12:28] Yeah. I had no idea that this other side, this huge side of the world existed and they probably wouldn't have no, that does not happen. So I think time and time again, we've said that like, there's not every single person we've spoken to and that's kind of why we started this whole podcast is that we, everyone I've talked to says, I just felt alone.

[00:12:51] I felt like there wasn't anyone that understood what I was going through. And then I talked to somebody and their child had a whole different diagnosis, but their journey and their story is exactly the same. We got a diagnosis. I didn't know what to do. I went down a Google rabbit hole. I felt alone. I had no resources.

[00:13:10] I had to find them myself. It was always the same story. And that person was just as scared as I was. And you just, and everyone says to you, Oh God, you're so brave. You're so strong. You no, I just did what I had to do because I'm a parent and you figure it out as you go. And you find a community somehow some way, there are people out there right now in that same beginning stages, just looking for a community.

[00:13:38] And you know, if it's because they listened to this podcast or because they saw runway of dreams or because they saw somebody in the target ad or wherever that's their community that they're finding. And I think it's just so important that there's just more of that and more of that. That we can get out there so that they can see that anybody coming across that whether you're a parent or you're somebody that maybe got into a car accident and you now have a spinal cord injury, that person is just as alone right now.

[00:14:09] Anyone that's just starting to come into a world where you just feel like you're different and you don't know where to go from there. It's big. So, you know, you come to this, you have a diagnosis. You're now kind of in this world of muscular dystrophy with Oliver, how, you know, we saw your Ted talk. Eddie had mentioned it.

[00:14:33] It was huge to us. We don't emotional idiot. I don't want that to run. He doesn't want to run his eyeliner. I can't even look at you with this on your face. Um, It for me watching that Ted talk. I mean, I w I'm like big into Ted talks. I've watched a million of them, but yours, I think spoke one, spoke a lot, obviously.

[00:14:55] Cause I'm a special needs parent as well, but even more, I mean, you had emotion behind it. It was raw. That meant a lot to me. I feel like you could have went on there and told your story and talked about runway of dreams and everything that you guys were doing, but. There was more to it. You talked about your journey with Oliver and everything.

[00:15:16] I think that's, uh, that meant a lot, you know, your emotion was there. And was that the first time that you spoke on that kind of a level about Oliver's story and journey? Uh, that's a great question. Um, up until that point I had done. Quite a bit of, uh, speaking, but going through the Ted process and they have a process and especially if you're a big Ted talk listener or watcher, there's a cadence.

[00:15:47] There's a definite science behind how they like Ted talks to too. Go. Um, and one thing they believe so strongly in is that it's not a presentation or a speech. It's a talk. And so when I first started going through the process, like any other speaking engagement I had, I would told my story. I told, you know, about runway of dreams and our partnership with tell me he'll figure and all of that amazing stuff.

[00:16:17] But I had never gotten to a place. Nor probably I didn't share publicly the reality, the real reality of what it's like. Um, having a child that you have to sit on the sidelines and literally watch as they, as their body breaks down in front of your eyes. Um, and that I have to give so much credit to the, to the Ted talk people.

[00:16:46] Um, and the, those that are behind the scenes, because they believe so much in the authenticity of what they're doing, that they kind of. Pushed me in the best way to get to that point. Um, and I kept saying, I, I, I don't think I can do it without crying. It's it's too real and it's too close to, to the heart.

[00:17:11] Um, and they said, so. Don't cry and then do whatever is, you know, in your heart. And I, you know, it's a three month process to prepare, to do a Ted talk. And when I did finally get to the end stages, I, there wasn't one time that I could do it, whether I was practicing or onstage or not. Um, then get through those last couple lines because it's so challenging.

[00:17:41] Yeah. You speak about, yeah. Well, I mean, I think as someone watching and someone who's been in a similar position, I mean, for us specifically with Eddie, so similar, because he's able to Tori, most of the time he wears leg braces. And just re he just turned eight last February. And just about now is where he at he's going to get emotional.

[00:18:09] So we brought tissues, but just about now is where he's starting to just have that awareness of his peers and how things are at school. And I, and I have. Notice that he'll bring things up and he didn't really care about what he wore to school before he has a uniform, but they have dress down days and he always would just wear sweatpants on dress down days.

[00:18:35] But the jeans thing is a big deal. He, he hates wearing jeans. And so when that opportunity came up to be able to get him jeans that are more adaptive is huge in our house because. He can on his own change his pants and unbutton his fly. He has to go to the nurse to change, to go to the bathroom every day.

[00:18:59] And so that little bit of more than anything that just freedom and that, that independence at eight years old, before eight years old, no one really paid attention. Six, seven kindergarten, first grade. No, one's really paying attention to what you're doing. But second grade seems to be that age where they have this awareness of their peers and what someone else is doing.

[00:19:18] And. He started to have an awareness of what was happening and his independence. And so. It it that spoke so much to me when you started talking about that with Oliver, because that w that's where we are right now. That's our reality. First of all, it makes me so thrilled to, to hear how this has translated to you and, and your son, because you know, we're all in this together.

[00:19:46] There's no rule books on this. There's no, Parent guide on how best to do it. And I think that was a big, um, Part for me as well, especially because I came from the fashion industry. I'm a trained fashion designer. I think so much about what I wear every day, even in the quarantine, because it makes me feel good.

[00:20:08] And it's how I present myself to the world. And I needed my eight year old to remind me how critically important it is for everybody to have that. That connection to who they are and, and they're their worst by, you know, how they're presenting themselves to the world. And I know that that, you know, the, those initial pair of jeans that I modified, and it was the first time that Oliver was able to independently dress himself and go into school, wearing something other than sweat pants was monumental in his life.

[00:20:43] I saw the, the, the change that came over him. From a pair of jeans was not only so amazing and such an incredibly aha moment, but. Really tough for me as mom. And especially because I dedicated my career to fashion, how in the world, I missed this with my own child. How miss somebody so important. So it gives me a lot of, uh, joy to hear that it has, you know, helped you guys as well.

[00:21:16] Oh yeah. I mean, it's been huge and I think that, you know, know that it in for us, it's such a small thing. I mean, he is most of the time pretty independent. And so for us, it's, it's a blip in our world, but I think, you know, and for me it probably means more as a parent than it does to him, for him as a child, because for him, it's just like, you know, he's eight.

[00:21:35] So he probably comes and goes, it's fleeting for me as a parent. And you know, this they're already hitting milestones later. So every milestone is a big deal. Yeah. So independence, anything he does? That's an independence milestone is huge to me. Whereas somebody else was like, yeah, he held a pencil. He wrote his name today.

[00:21:54] I'm like, he wrote his name today. He could hold a pencil and he had the hand strength to write his name. He did two math pages today. Like he had the energy and the time to do two math pages. Like that's huge in our house. I noticed every one of those little milestones, whereas someone else's kid, they're just like, Oh, he, he did a class for four hours.

[00:22:12] I'm like what? He sat still for four hours. Like those are huge things in our house. And so. Those independence milestones mean a lot, like know that you're making a huge difference and I'm sure that, you know, I kinda want to get to that. So like you started runway of dreams out of a necessity really in your household, but my guess is you're probably a personality type like me.

[00:22:38] I can't just. Do something small. I see something, I start it and then I go 110% because I just have like this type a personality and I go all the way. So is that what happened with you? You kind of saw a need and then kept going with it. Yes. Um, I, yeah, and you're spot on that. I, I never known how to think small.

[00:23:06] I mean, I've always, since I was a little girl knew that I was going to be in fashion. I wanted to be a fashion designer, but it wasn't going to be just a fashion center. I wanted to be global brands. Like I want it to be, so I. You know, never thought small and should be told when Oliver, um, came into our life.

[00:23:28] And, you know, we started realizing the challenges that it was going to add, um, with everyday tasks, like dressing himself. I mean, I wasn't anywhere near thinking about changing the fashion industry. I, at that time owned my own business. I was rocking and rolling over there, but then. You know, when I saw the impact that the pair of jeans had on Oliver and eight years old, I just could not imagine how the almost 1 million people on our planet that have disabilities, how were they managing in their life with clothing challenges?

[00:24:05] And it kept kind of eating way. It may a little bit that I, how. How did people, how was all we're going to manage everything in this world? He couldn't even independently dress himself. And, and it obviously was very personal to me that there was. Nothing available in the, in the industry. And this was back in 2013 when I decided to take my background and have a small goal of changing the fashion industry, tiny, tiny, um, people with disabilities.

[00:24:41] The fact that there were. Zero mainstream brands that even understood what adaptive clothing was or had ever even heard of that phrase. And again, you know, this is something that was my livelihood. I had worked in the industry almost 20 years already by that point. And it wasn't ever anything, anybody thought about talked about nothing.

[00:25:04] So I think then it just became, um, It just became a, I have to do this. There's it wasn't a thought. I mean, it was a thought in the sense that I sold my half of the business and I, you know, had to have a sit down with my husband, that we were going to go from a two salary family to a one salary family.

[00:25:26] And during the time that I was building this, I didn't. You know, it was going to not probably bring in a dime because I need to do a tremendous amount of research before I could even approach the fashion industry. I only knew my world with Oliver. I didn't know what your world was. I didn't know what somebody that had limb differences or down syndrome or autism or wheelchair users.

[00:25:51] I needed to fully immerse myself in the population at large, to be able to say. There are commonalities between clothing challenges and different disabilities. And we can solve them by making modifications to mainstream clothing, to make it more wearable for people with disabilities. And the only way that I could do that is if I rolled up my sleeves and got involved and really knew what I was talking about.

[00:26:16] And that's what I did for an entire year, I spent the year of 2013, 14 go into schools and hospitals and facilities. Doing focus groups and surveys, and just educating myself as much as I possibly could. That's great. I mean, and then you will, from there you team up with Tommy Hilfiger, do you just go from you just jump right into that?

[00:26:40] No, uh, after that year of research, that's when I sat down and said, all right, now I have all of this information. I know, you know what the commonalities are, but I have to now. Put that into design. I had to put my design add on now and say, What can I do to mainstream clothing to make it more wearable for people with disabilities?

[00:27:06] Okay. Buttons are a huge problem across the board, both physical and cognitive. So the reality is of the button and button hall was developed in the 13th century. If you can believe that. And the fact that we are still using to this day, Technology that was made in the 13th. Centuries is preposterous when we can run our lives, our phone, and we're still using such dated thought processes.

[00:27:36] So, you know, one thing that immediately kind of came to my mind as a teaser closure. We're magnets and being able to put a magnet behind a button. So that looked exactly like the original product. It just closed in a different way. Um, so developing those modifications and then I went to target and Kohl's and just bought product right off the rack and sat at my kitchen table.

[00:28:03] And. Took them all apart and put them back together with modifications in it until I had great prototypes. And that's when I decided that I was ready to approach the fashion industry and tell me, Hilfiger was my first step. Oh. And it first stop. And it worked, it worked so you're convincing. Yes. Wow. Well, how can you say nothing in Tommy?

[00:28:28] So that might've helped? Well, also, I mean, How can you bring something like this up and say no to it? Well, I'll tell you that's it's a really good question because, um, it's, it was a big challenge in the beginning, in the fact that no mainstream club in mainstream brands had ever done this before. So it was very easy for brands to say.

[00:28:55] There must be a reason if in 2014, Zero mainstream brands are doing anything for people with disabilities. There is absolutely a reason. So good luck. Yeah. I think you're doing something great. And keep us posted was a lot of the response that I got. Um, and the change in, in, uh, my approach came in after hearing so many times the same reaction.

[00:29:27] I knew that I had to, um, take the financial. Commitment off the table in terms of taking a risk, he was willing to take a risk on something that wasn't proven. So I, at the time runway dreams was a for-profit. I had no idea what it had to run a nonprofit. I, I knew nothing. I was always, I was a designer. I ran my own business.

[00:29:51] I had no idea. So, um, but I knew that the only way I was going to be able to prove that there was a market and it was humongous and viable and a business opportunity. I had to take the financial risk off the table and I've decided to become a nonprofit because if I was completely wrong and I got brands, it common on this journey with me, the very least they would've gotten taxed.

[00:30:19] Right. Right. And it not only felt good to do something like this, but it, you know, was much lower risk. Fortunately. As soon as I became a nonprofit, that's when people started saying, yes, I'll meet with you. I think that's a great idea. And Tommy Hilfiger was, was the first major brand, um, to go on this journey and they have been so unbelievably supportive, um, in.

[00:30:50] The fact that now they saw that this is a huge business opportunity. And Tommy adaptive is just another division within the Tommy portfolio. It is not considered a, a nonprofit or a poor people with disabilities. It is considered the same as Tommy jeans and Tommy collection and all the other divisions within Tommy.

[00:31:13] And fortunately, now Zappos is in the game, was Zappos, adaptive and target. And Kohl's and Nike, so changes absolutely happening in the industry. And I think that there will come a day that all major brands will have adaptive versions of them. Yeah. I mean, we were, I mean, so we interviewed Ashley Robinson as well.

[00:31:38] Colton Robinson's mom. Um, and we were talking about just, I feel like in just such a short time, It's come so far. I mean, like you said, even 2014 is when you started this and it's only 20, 20 now and in such a short time, so much has happened. And it's so crazy to me to see as a parent, like what accessibility there is for even just for me to buy quilting for Eddie.

[00:32:05] Now that he's an age where he's interested in what he puts on his body and what kind of clothes he wants to buy. We were buying, uh, I was saying this on Ashley's episode, we were buying a bathing suit for my daughter from Aerie and she. I, she wanted to like, look in like a different section and we came across, what was it?

[00:32:24] The ostomy bags, philosophy bags, like they're like covers. And I was like, this is the greatest idea. I was like, why wouldn't someone do this beforehand? Like this is, I'm literally made like the whole house come over. I'm like everybody come look, no one cared. I'm like, look at everybody, look out cool.

[00:32:43] That's great. Okay. But I like, I get so excited because it's just such a, I just think like, if, if I was in that position, what a pain, if you're just like searching and searching and searching for something so that you can go to the beach, everyone should be able to go to the beach and feel comfortable on the beach.

[00:33:00] Like. I know, like I don't even have, I don't want to have trouble finding out something to wear, so no one else should have a problem either. Like just go to the beach and have fun and feel pretty good. You have a terrible time finding something to wear to the beach. If I could just say the same way I have trouble.

[00:33:17] So you wait, wait, wait, wait. I do have a quick question. What is it like to be like one of the last pioneers? Um, because like, this is what the latest pioneers. Well, I mean, there's not really much more fronts you can pioneer anymore. You never know this is, this is a huge, it's a huge demographic that absolutely got, has been overlooked before, you know, for centuries.

[00:33:43] Um, and that's, I mean, that's. In my opinion. That is the biggest story is you, you are a pivotal character that has created this whole, uh, essentially revolution in clothing. I think that's, that's the biggest thing for me that I get to go brag about when we get finished with all of this. Oh my God. Thank you.

[00:34:04] Brag away. And they're like Mindy, who are they? You don't know Mindy. Scheier like this guy doesn't know Mindy Shire. And then I got to do that, you know, um,

[00:34:16] I know, how do you get through your everyday life? That's something else? Well, um, it's, um, I think it's a little indescribable. Um, and also I hope I'm encouraging to others out there that. One idea can change the world. I mean, it's very easy to say, w you know, how can one person change the fashion industry, or how can you know?

[00:34:41] Well, maybe they're right. If nobody's done this before, if there is no mainstream brands, then I'm probably wrong. I mean, they can't be wrong. I'm sure I'm wrong. That, that maybe there isn't a market for this. And I think that, um, being. Comfortable and being okay to believe in yourself and kind of block out the millions of people that, you know, I'm sure were thinking they were giving good advice, but I think hopefully will be something that people take from this interview that whether it's changing the life of one person or millions of people.

[00:35:23] You have that capacity and if you don't believe in yourself and w and what you're going towards, then how do you expect anybody else to that's number one? And number two is. Yeah, I'm, I'm honored that, you know, you think that I'm the pioneer and whatnot. It takes a village. It really does. I mean, I have, I think the greatest thing that I know how to do is know what I'm not an expert in.

[00:35:51] And I bring in those that are, that are. Better. There's certain things that I am or more knowledgeable. Like I said, I have no idea how to do a nonprofit. I don't even know what a five Oh one C three what's when I first I just knew this is what I needed to do to get to my goals. So I am so grateful that I've had so many incredibly resilient and amazing people that have been.

[00:36:19] With me on this journey, but I think the bottom line is it's. It's okay to have a big mouth believe in what you're doing and just go for it. What's what's the worst that's going to happen. And this is also, I am a big believer that it's never failure. It's just feedback. So I, every time that a brand would say good luck, great idea.

[00:36:44] They were just giving me the feedback that I needed. Because that's what pivoted me to go the non-profit route. So, um, thank you for that compliment, but that's, that's my 2 cents. Oh, that's awesome. I think that's perfect. I mean, like pivot is the key word. I hear that a lot. And I I've heard that recently and tried to like, remember that when I hear things and I think it's, so I'm some, one of those people that I hear, I something happens and I'm like, Oh, that's it.

[00:37:12] It's not going to work. And I'm learning that like, no, You hear it, you take it and you're just like, okay, we just need to pivot. And we look at the next thing. Yep. Take the feedback. Yeah. Just stop. Take a breath. And then continue see what was next. If it's what you really want, you have a passion and then, you know, something's going to work and you feel it in your gut, then you just need to pivot and find the right way to make that happen.

[00:37:34] Because there's, it's obviously gonna like, or people don't succeed. That's the people that succeed. That's how they're getting. Yes. And I'm living proof of it. I mean, it's just the bottom line. It's it's, it's exactly how I got to where I am. Yeah. Runway of dreams taking off. Building brands every day. It seems like.

[00:37:56] How did gamut management come about? So over, I would say the past couple of years, all of a sudden, um, Talent agents or, um, other brands or industries starting to reaching out to runway of dreams because they wanted to, um, get connected to people with disabilities. For example, Delta airlines reached out to us and they said, We want to be the official airline and people with disabilities.

[00:38:25] Um, can you connect us to people in runway of dreams? We want to understand the population better. Well worse, no problem. And we helped fill roles and in flight videos and we help them understand what they could be doing to make the experience better for people with disabilities all the way up to, um, We actually placed people in roles on Broadway, um, to feel it fill the role of tiny Tim this past year.

[00:38:56] So they've just more and more outreach about being connected to the population of people with disabilities started happening. And I just couldn't imagine that. If they were reaching it to a non-profit, that must mean there's a, a void in the market. Why, why would they have to come to a nonprofit when there should or could be an actual management company that represents people with disabilities?

[00:39:22] So, um, about two years ago, I started working on a business plan to launch the first ever. Um, management company that exclusively represents people with disabilities. We're not just a, uh, division and another company or this isn't, you know, just a kind of one off it's all that we do. Um, so it's really.

[00:39:46] Been such a, an amazing opportunity for the population in terms of rebranding people disabilities in the public eye and in our mainstream media, you know, when you think about it as I was developing products or helping, you know, to create the modifications, I didn't. Do this in a silo. I had focus groups.

[00:40:09] I had surveys because the population needs to be involved in products that are being made for them. And that was the best opportunity that I could provide brands and companies coming to us to say, I have a whole network of people and gamut. That are, can be involved in every step of the process to develop products, to, um, be in your ad campaigns, to be on your runways and in your commercials.

[00:40:40] And you need to think outside the box of who your consumers are. And I have them all here, you know, or a building to get them all in gamut, but it really was a natural progression of what needed to happen, um, based on what was happening with, with runway trends and that they requests that are coming in.

[00:41:02] So Gavin management is a for-profit, um, company that again, we manage people with disabilities exclusively to not only help brands. Um, Create products for people with disabilities, but to also help the entertainment industry in increasing the amount of people that, uh, we see in the public eye with disabilities, um, because it shapes our, our mainstream world and runway of dreams has now become the non-profit partner of gamma.

[00:41:33] I mean, I think it's huge, especially because representation and we talk about it all the time. It's just, it's so important. And, you know, it's important on all sides, but huge in this world for inclusive. And I mean, and if you, I mean, Ashley talked about it when we talked to her about when Colden first got started and, you know, she, she went to the first agency and they kind of were like, there's not a need for that.

[00:42:01] Well, there's definitely a need for that. I mean, it's just, everyone thinks that it's a niche and there's just not enough people that are interested you're out of your mind, if you think. And if we're just talking about really, you know, If you talk about what falls under the umbrella, that's more mainstream, but really if you add on all the others, they're like disabilities that are invisible or mental health disabilities that the disability community is here and it should be represented properly.

[00:42:31] And it's crazy to think, like we talk about all the time, like when I went to, I went to a conference and someone said, Oh, you're in a niche. Podcasts, you should be over here, like in this whole group and you should go. I said, I'm 100%. We're not a niche. Well, not the way we're planning on doing it. Like if you think we're a niche you're out of your mind, because if you only knew every time I talk to someone and say, this is the type of podcast world can do.

[00:42:57] When someone goes, Oh, my cousin, my brother, my son, my I'm like. Everyone. I talked to somehow related to this podcast. There's no way we're in. Yeah. Unless niche means involving every book. Uh, then yeah. Oh, there you go. Yeah, but also I think it comes from a lack of understanding and education about the population.

[00:43:22] Um, you know, my favorite statistic is that people disabilities are the largest minority we have on our planet. Right. So there's the, that's the absolute opposite of a niche. Yeah. Yeah. I think it's time. I mean, we both watched, um, the five Oh four, what documentary? What's the name of it? Crip camp Crip camp on Netflix.

[00:43:48] No, I've never even heard of it. Oh, wait, shit. I really hope I didn't just say something stupid in sense of peace. It's called Crip camp on Netflix. It's phenomenal. It's about, um, the group of individuals who basically started the five Oh four. And it's amazing. And they, they came from, they all kind of met at a camp in the seventies, and then they.

[00:44:18] Ended up just like politically starting a movement and then created the five Oh four. That is unbelievable. It's the best we cried the whole time. And they'd be like, they would call into the police station. Like we have to get rid of them and they'd be like, just kick them out and be like, we. We can't, they can't move.

[00:44:35] Like we have to pick them up, physically move them there. W they stayed there like a week with no bathroom, no care. You got to watch it. It's so good care of each other. Yeah. They were like caring for each other, like changing each other, helping each other with the bathroom care. It's the best documentary.

[00:44:53] It's it's amazing. Yeah. It's a really, really good. And it's so well-represented of everybody's individual. Disabilities and it's, it's one of the best documentaries and it came out the same week that tiger King came out. That's why you even heard about it. The other end of the spectrum. Exactly. And every time Carol baskets, every time someone would post about tiger King, I would be like, okay.

[00:45:15] And then go watch this. Okay. And then go watch this. Cause I was like, this is too good. You have to, you can't miss it. It was so, yes. So. I mean, I think that what you're doing with gamma is just so huge and tying the two together, obviously it came from a need. I mean, you, you saw a need and again, you answered it.

[00:45:37] Isn't that twice now, so we're good. What does it feel like to be a pioneer? I don't know that you realize it as much as it's happening. I can't imagine, but where do you see? You know, Inclusive and adapt the adaptive world. How do you see it reaching even more people? I mean, it's obviously, we're kind of in the beginning stages, really, even though kind of far, where do you see it going?

[00:46:03] I, I believe, um, I hope I should say within the next 10 years, I think adaptive will just be another category in the industry. No different than plus size or petite or maternity. It will just be. Yeah, just different body shapes and considered the same as all other products. Um, and look, I do hope that someday we don't even need to have these conversations anymore because people with disabilities are just a part of our culture.

[00:46:35] Um, and especially because statistically, they say that there could be. A day where there's more people on our planet that have disability than those that don't. So I think that, you know what we'll get there. I think the education piece, which is why it's so awesome that you guys are doing that. The podcast, I think the education piece is.

[00:46:58] Necessary. I think it's still why people are saying to you this you're in the niche podcasts world. It's because of their lack of education of this population. Oh, for sure. I mean, I think we say it all the time. Like, not that the word we tell our kids it and everything, but the word ignorant is not a negative word.

[00:47:17] It just means somebody doesn't know enough about it, what we're telling them, it's our opportunity to teach them something. Yes. You know, it's, it's more often than not, and it's okay. And we just need, it's an opportunity to learn on our side, why they are, they don't know enough about something and it's our opportunity to teach them something.

[00:47:37] Yeah. Um, have you seen, I've seen this a lot. I I'm. My daughter is obsessed with English. The w the British world and England and everything about it. And I love myself some British TV, but have you noticed, cause I've noticed this, that seems that. British TV seems to have a lot more representation on it.

[00:48:00] And it's not even like a thing. They're just as somebody with a disability on British TV. They'll talk about the disability. They're just a part of the show. It's not the person with the disability on the show. It's just, you know, a character on the show and you notice they have a disability. Yeah. I love that.

[00:48:19] Um, the British are definitely ahead of us in, in their, um, inclusion, the British, I should say Europe because it's probably more of a European thing, but actually England specifically, um, is, is very, um, inclusive and in the best way possible. It's not that there are people disabilities, they're just like everybody else.

[00:48:45] Um, so I think that that is, um, a by-product of the fact that even just kind of culturally, they are ahead of where we are, where there's other countries like India that could not be further behind. Yeah. Yeah. How do you see a way to kind of bridge that? Or do you see a way to bridge that? I think a lot of it's gonna come from, um, uh, media.

[00:49:13] He importance of mainstream media and the public and co pop culture is so critically important to how we change our views. And I think the more people that we see, uh, with disabilities in our public eye, The more that, that those bridges are going to be created. That I, I really believe in that. And that's having, you know, like, like, uh, Europe is doing it, then it's just all that happened to have a disability, the character isn't about their disability.

[00:49:47] Yeah. You know, when you look at the background of movies and you see, you know, people in the streets, it's pretty hard to find somebody with a disability in the, in the background. There's no extras with a disability. That is, it's a humongous part of our world and we're not even seeing. People with differences.

[00:50:06] So that has to change. It's going to happen. I think from the top down, I think our pop culture will have to start including, and which was one of my guiding principles of creating gamut. Was to try to make that happen? Well, I think the more, and it is all about, I mean, the best part of, I think quarantine, things like that is Netflix and Hulu and things that were just sitting around binge watching things.

[00:50:32] That's part of it is what people are watching and the more we're watching certain things like Crip camp and things like that, and people are binge watching. The more they're going to put content like that out and. Then it's going to be wanted. And so then there's going to be a call out to places like you asking for more, you know, models or actors or singers and things like that, so that they can fill these roles.

[00:50:59] And I think the more that, that happens in roles with people who actually that's the other big thing, like we're not filling a role with the person who's not disabled for a role that is a person who's disabled, we're filling roles with authentic, you know, disabilities, and we're not replacing things.

[00:51:16] Yeah. I mean, that's huge to me what it is only, honestly, it is only just a matter of time. Now, the ball is rolling. Yes. Like those, these things are taking place the other. Yeah. Well, it's not even, I think it's, we're at this point in time where we are even part of the natural growth, the organic, uh, you know, evolution of, of what's what's happening in society.

[00:51:41] Um, I think that like, you know, The more positive things to social media and stuff is that we are exposed to these differences that other people are going through. And so, you know, a great time during quarantine is to self-reflect and, you know, you see that, and maybe you have some time to actually think about it now and be like, Oh my gosh.

[00:51:59] Like that, that for me is, you know, that was a turning point for me was actually seeing it. Like, I've always like, like charities and, you know, like to helping and stuff. But until we had our son, you know, it was like, I. I was all talk, you know, I was like, Oh, I like doing that and stuff, but my parents would sign me up for the crop walk and stuff, or like school would just, there's your free activity.

[00:52:21] You can go do that. Okay. I just signed my name up and here we are. But you know, then having a child with a disability, it's like, okay, put your best foot forward. And actually, you know, put your money where your mouth is. Are you there? Are you going to be able to do it? And so that's, that's been huge to me.

[00:52:35] And so to see the evolution of that, to see the evolution of, you know, my son's quality of life is not going to be hindered at all because we are now integrating all of this, the idea or the understanding of what, you know, what disabilities people are struggling. It's just huge. It's Oh, it's so nice. So one thing we ask, all of our guests is for, you know, if we gave you 30 seconds to speak to our community, what advice would you give them?

[00:53:08] Which obviously is something you probably do regularly. But what advice would you give our community? If we gave you 30 seconds to speak to them? I think the best advice I could give or somebody that I feel very strongly about is that we are all in this together. And I think that it's very easy to get siloed into your.

[00:53:31] Lane of a disability or, you know, I could have just perhaps done this for muscular dystrophy instead of looking up and say, my God, there's so many people out there that have disability and we are going to get so much more done. If we do it together and support each other and break down the silos of, you know, one disability versus another disability, we have to come together as the largest minority on our planet and have a voice.

[00:54:01] And speak up and say, we should be seen in mainstream media because we are bigger than all of you. So I think it's time for us to make our voices heard, get loud. And most importantly, let's do it together. I mean, that's great. I mean, we'll be a community and there's not a better time than right now. I mean, we're all, we're not all sitting at home, but I think a lot of us are, it's a time.

[00:54:25] We're all realizing that this isn't okay. Times are changing. It would no one's going back to the way it used to be, no matter what that looks like, something's going to be different. So let's take the opportunity to kind of make a change in whatever way that needs to be. I agree. Um, so what are you.

[00:54:43] Working on next. I mean, what's Rowan runway of dreams or gamut working on next. I know things are, again, looking a little bit different right now with quarantine, but what are you guys working on? Um, so from a runway dreams perspective, we just, um, over the past couple of weeks launched a, um, online campaign called shelter chic hashtag shelter sheet that I started just for fun, um, that I.

[00:55:09] Started like putting on my most favorite looks to like clean the toilets or that

[00:55:19] people were enjoying it so much that I decided to make it into a challenge to raise money. For our population specifically in terms of, um, protective gear, um, and masks and gowns, and what is really necessary for the population of people with disabilities outside of hospitals. Um, and that we are the high risk category and we're going to be needed needing protection probably a lot longer than able-bodied people.

[00:55:51] So the. Shelter sheet challenge is going specifically to, um, create masks and gowns to be distributed to the population of schools or facilities or any, any, um, buddy in our population that really needs this protective gear, as well. As on the gamut from, um, I started a virtual talk show, um, that we are doing on YouTube.

[00:56:20] It's called the cabinet network. Um, and we've done probably about 30 interviews now. Uh, all different people with disabilities or those that are working in the. World disability, a couple lightweight Zappos saw and then a couple of other designers. And it just really, um, very similar to what you know, you guys are doing.

[00:56:42] And I think the world needs a little soul filling right now. And I think seeing, um, and hearing stories. Uh, people with disabilities and the fact that they are people first and what they've accomplished and what their goals and wishes and dreams are, are what people need to hear right now. Yeah. Um, so that's been really, really cool for the gamut.

[00:57:06] That's exciting. Well, every we'll make sure that we link all of that when we post that we can make sure that everyone checks it all out. Cause I think that's super exciting. So we'll make sure that we enter the challenge and we can definitely jump on all of those things. I'm super excited. Well, I'm gonna wait a couple of days before I watched those movies.

[00:57:26] Cause like, are the videos I'm all cried out. Like it's been okay. Oh, fun. You cry. It will be such a happy. Yes. Beautiful. Oh my God cry. I mean, there's been some incredible stories, really magical, amazing. You can't help, but look at your life and say, I am so lucky. Yeah, I think that's, what's been making me cry like the past few days.

[00:57:55] No, no. In a good way. In a good way. I don't cry, but Oh my God, like, like physical pain, you could chop my arm off. I'm like, dude, you got to get me like a tourniquet or something, but it's like the emotional pain. It's not even emotional pain. It's just like, What'd you call that the inspirational porn? Yeah.

[00:58:13] That's like, that's like my favorite word, inspirational porn. Um, but my favorite it's it's no, I'm not saying it's my favorite word, but, uh, it's like that just gets me. Oh, The dogs, dog suck. We made it so long before the dogs jumped in Bergen. Well, thank you so much, Mindy. We really appreciate you joining us and doing this for us.

[00:58:39] Thank you for having me on the show was really an honor. Thank you. That was awesome. Thanks so much, Mindy. Really? Bye. Thank you. Well, thank you so much listening. We really hope you enjoyed this episode as always, please make sure you share with friends and leave a review. You can find all the resources mentioned in this episode, on our Facebook or Instagram on, at special about special.

[00:59:07] Thanks again. And we'll see you soon.