Please help us raise money to build AND Clothes to be a brand to be proud of - a brand that ends stigma and inequality. We want to create a better world in which learning disabled adults can take action, have a voice and challenge the inequalities they face.
About AND Clothes
AND Clothes is a new clothing brand with social purpose. Set up by Leep1 (Leeds People First) in January 2021, this start up ethical casual clothing brand is managed by 8 adults with learning disabilities who are learning to be successful social entrepreneurs.
Leep1 is a not for profit organisation that supports adults with learning disabilities to speak up for themselves in order to have meaningful and empowered lives. Everyone needs a voice in order to have the lives they choose. As a self advocacy specialist we support over 300 learning disabled adults to speak up about the things that matter and affect them.
The AND entrepreneurs are passionate and dedicated to giving themselves and other LD adults around the world a voice using their powerful message to end stigma, hate and inequality: #AbilitiesNotDisabilities (which is what AND stands for)
AND Clothes is not just a clothing company - we're here to change the way the world views people with a learning disability and to focus on what skills and innovation they bring. We want to end the negative public misconceptions they face and prove that it's about what can be acheived and not what can't.
The idea to create this social clothing brand was seeded two years ago by Leep1 co-chair Susan Hanley. Susan has Downs Syndrome but that has never held her back in campaigning for the rights of other disabled people. She remains a passionate and determined disability rights ambassador in the UK.
Thanks to some recent funding from the People's Health Trust we have been able start up AND Clothes as a small business during lockdown. Our aim is to develop it into a successful brand, to design quality clothes that speak volumes and teach the entrepreneurs taking part in the programme business skills along the way.
What difference we can make
AND Clothes give our members a platform to flourish and become the successes they deserve to be. We want to address the lack of employment opportunities facing people with learning disabilities and instill confidence and promote wellbeing through creative practice within the programme.
Working towards a united goal is empowering - our project offers a safe and positive space to build confidence and develop creative, business and employment skills. The entrepreneurs are already seeing huge improvements in their confidence just a few months in and are eager to get more business experience as the enterprise develops.
The AND team has a very unique and inspiring way of working together. The mutual support and encouragement to and from each member is so refreshing to see. All business decisions are made as a team; there is no hierarchy, only real respect for one another, valuing each other’s skills and ideas. Some of the team focus on marketing, buying choices or excel in encouraging others. Everyone has an important and valued role to play which contributes to the strong symbiotic success of the group.
Art and creativity play a big part in our clothing business and it has been a great way to enhance everyone's wellbeing. Being creative is proven to improve mental health by reducing anxiety and stress, increasing a sense of acheivement and purpose, improving mood and relaxation. Using art is also a fantastic way to find a common ground, form friendships and a community and thus build robust mental health.
The pandemic has been hard on every part of society, but especially tough for people with learning disabilities and their carers. People with a learning disability are more likely to to experience poor mental health:
- Biology and genetics may increase vulnerability to mental health problems
- A higher incidence of negative life events
- Access to fewer resources and coping skills – even more notable during the 2020 Covid pandemic
- The impact of other people’s attitudes
What we make
Designs are digitally printed onto 100% organic cotton hoodies, T-shirts and bags. It is important to the entreprenuers that they take care of our planet and the people who make clothes so our new products are all Climate Neutral, PETA Approved and Fair Wear.
The entrepreneurs will work on next season's collection and their idea of a new baby range to add to their current catalogue.
The need for change
It is estimated that there are 1.5 million people in England with a learning disability. Only 6% of adults with a learning disability are in employment although the majority desperately want to be. Do you agree with us that everyone should have the opportunity to feel fulfilled and play an active role in society?
Misconceptions and negative attitudes can be a barrier to people with a disability living the lives they want. 32% of people surveyed in the British Attitudes Survey thought that disabled people are not as productive as non-disabled people. This belief may contribute to the big difference in employment rates between people with a learning disability and the general population.
Sadly, hate crimes against learning disabled adults are on the increase. Figures show that the National Crime Survey estimated 70,000 crimes took place between 2018 - 2019. Many crimes still go unreported and that's why it's vital that this community has the power and voice to speak up for themselves to make a change for the better.
Where your money will go
Running a clothing business requires stock and merchandise, branding materials, transport, stationery, event opportunities, art materials, photo studio rentals - all of which costs money.
The entrepreneurs will gain valuable life and work skills and be able to seek out employment or move further into entreprenuership within ANDClothes. Our vision is to grow and develop the brand and have enough money to pay the 8 team members to mentor and facilitate many others through the business and entrepreneur programme. We'd like to utilise our standing as an accredited training centre to offer nationally recognised business qualifications and training.
Your contribution will be invaluable to this project and will mean we can help our entrepreneurs acheive their employment goals and support them to develop and flourish as individuals. Please help the AND brand spread it's powerful message so we can educate and change perceptions to improve the lives of many learning disabled adults right across the globe. Just wearing one of our T-shirts will help prove what this talented community really can do and help fight our campaign against the stigma and challenge negativity.