Alexandra Connell was diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD early on in her life, but this would just mark the beginning of a life-changing mission. Recently earning her Master’s degree from Columbia, Alexandra showed the world how much she can achieve, despite teachers telling her she wouldn’t get very far. Her own personal experience struggling with a disability, along with losing her mother, Patti, to cancer, and her cousin, Ricky, who was also disabled, all led to the creation of “PATTI + RICKY”, an online marketplace for inclusive designer products, specifically made to fit the needs of people with disabilities. Determined to change the retail fashion industry, Alexandra is working towards her goal every day, while keeping the memory of Patti and Ricky alive through her brand – she is truly an inspiration to all!
Alexandra with her cousin Ricky
Your website is life-changing for people with disabilities who are looking for items that fit their needs. How do you find designers to contribute to your site?
Our process to partner with designers involves extensive research in order to find both stylish and functional clothing and accessories for women, men, and kids with disabilities. I feel so lucky to be partnered with over 35 amazing designers. Many of our designers whose products are featured on our site have disabilities or a loved one with a disability. Our process for finding products is always different. Sometimes it is through internet research, word of mouth, through industry contacts, or designers approaching us. On PATTIandRICKY.com, customers will find a section called “suggestions”, where they can let us know products that they have been looking for. Our team makes it our mission to find it!
Are you thinking of designing your own inclusive items, too?
Yes, PATTI + RICKY intend to fill the gaps that exist between fashion and function as it relates to clothing, accessories, home, and mobility.
What is one item from the website that you have found to be very helpful to others?
All of our products are stylish and functional for specific needs.
- From beautiful arm slings to cochlear implant jewelry
- From jeans that are wheelchair friendly to lingerie with hook & eye
- From wheelchair accessories to fidget jewelry
How did your own disabilities affect your life, growing up?
After being diagnosed in 3rd grade with dyslexia and ADHD, my mom (Patti from PATTI + RICKY) taught me how to effectively advocate for the accommodations and assistive technology I needed to be successful in school. During college and graduate school, I utilized the Disability Service Offices to advocate for extra-time on my exams with a private test-taking location. These accommodations allowed me to be on a similar “level playing field” as my peers and demonstrate my knowledge. Also, whenever possible, I continue to capitalize on my abilities.
What piece of advice would you give to people with disabilities who want to be fashionable, but are too intimidated?
Visit PATTIandRICKY.com and find your style.
What is your ultimate goal for the inclusive retail fashion industry?
To reach more consumers including people with disabilities and to inspire designers to create stylish and functional products with the collaboration of people with disabilities.
How do you define beauty?
Beauty will always remain in the eye of the beholder. Of course, we can all grow our sense of style and aesthetic point of view with increased exposure to art, architecture, history, fashion, other cultures….and of course PATTIandRICKY.com.
Check out Alexandra’s awesome selection of inclusive fashion items on www.PATTIandRICKY.com!
Photos by Alexandra Connell, PATTI + RICKY