Growing up with a brother with non-verbal autism, Brant Cartwright recalls “always feeling bad” about the limited portrayal of people living with disabilities he saw in the media and the entertainment industry. fashion.
The fifth-year VIU Bachelor of Education student felt compelled to seek out companies with inclusive employment and representation practices.
“It’s shocking how little has been done,” says Brant.
This observation inspired Brant to launch his own clothing line: Inclusive Clothing – a brand he describes as “luxurious and innovative”. The goal, he says, is to inspire other businesses to increase the representation of people with disabilities by creating opportunities for them to model and be represented through mediums such as magazine covers and social media platforms. corporate social media.
Of course, starting his own clothing line is no easy task, as Brant quickly discovered when he began the heavy lifting to create Inclusive Clothing in January of this year.
“The process was a lot more difficult than I had originally thought,” he says. “I had to identify what I wanted to do, what I wanted the company’s vision to be, how saturated the market was right now, how I was going to stand out, who my target consumers would be, how I was going to source clothes for my brand, get the brand name filed and registered, and that would help me create a website, manage social media accounts, model for our business, and create the brand and logo design.
For someone with no previous experience in the fashion retail industry, that was a lot to take on. Fortunately, however, Brant had connections.
“I’m really grateful to have the support and help of my family and friends who have experience in running a small business, web design, photography and logo design/ branding.”
Now that much of the back-end work is in place, Brant is leaning into what’s next and focusing on his vision for inclusive clothing.
“When I talk about selling innovative, luxury clothing, I’m talking about adaptive clothing that stays high-end,” he explains. “A big part of it is working with designers to create clothes that fit all body types and shapes.”
And while a priority is to find wholesalers across North America who carry the highest quality product for his company, Brant is also looking for ways to make his future products more environmentally friendly.
“We plan to wholesale our clothing locally and have it printed and embroidered locally to help small businesses in BC,” he says. “We also plan to use the print-on-demand model, which means that every product we sell will be printed to order. This will ensure that no stock or material is wasted and reduce the number of miles the product has to travel.
Starting a new business is no small feat, but Brant is also continuing his journey to become a teacher. He began his post-secondary career in northern Alberta before transferring to VIU in 2018, both for the reputation of the education program and the athletic offerings – he played with the men’s volleyball team Mariners for one season.
After graduating from Brant, he would like to work in the Vancouver area as a teacher and eventually earn a master’s degree in special education “so that I can learn more about how to better integrate students with disabilities into the classroom “.
And while he describes Inclusive Clothing as a side hustle for now, Brant would like to one day open a store in the Vancouver area as well “and provide work opportunities for people with disabilities. I want every aspect of my business to be an inclusive space.
The launch of the brand’s first collection – which Brant has named “The Essential Collection” – is taking place this month and all products and more information can be found on the Inclusive Clothing website. For every product sold, 5% of the profits will be donated to a local charity that helps people with disabilities.
“I don’t have any fashion experience, but I have a lot of experience with people with disabilities,” says Brant. “That’s why I believe I can do it and be an advocate for the community.”