A few years ago, a Zappos employee took a call from a customer whose grandson received the wrong shoes. Sadly, the employee was unable to find a replacement for what she needed. Their customer was frustrated — and rightfully so. She shared that her grandson, Gabriel, has autism and is unable to use shoes with laces due to the challenges of tying them. As Gabriel ages, it becomes increasingly difficult to find footwear for his needs.
That call made a lasting impression on our employee, and he vowed to do something about it. Following several months of immersive research, education, and talking with families and people with disabilities, he helped create a team dedicated to sourcing products that are functional, fashionable, and meet all types of needs. Zappos Adaptive aims to connect people with products that make life easier.
Zappos Adaptive Mission
Zappos Adaptive is a shopping experience that brings together brands who offer products that are innovative, functional and fashionable. They are on a mission to provide options for people searching for clothing, shoes and accessories that help make getting dressed easier!
Check out what went on behind the scenes with the incredible models and stylist Stephanie Thomas of Cur8able at their photo shoot. They featured models of all abilities with looks that work for their body types and sense of style.
Zappos Adaptive just announced they’ve added Tommy Hilfiger Adaptive Fall Collection!
Zappos Adaptive’s Advisory Council
A celebration of the people who inspire them and help guide their Zappos Adaptive experience.
Alexis’ journey started long before being crowned Miss Montana 2012 and ultimately the “America’s Choice” contestant in the 2012 Miss America competition. Diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) at the age of 11, Alexis and her family struggled for years to understand her challenges. Part of that journey included a misdiagnosis and bullying. Fortunately, her family was and continues to be a source of strength and inspiration. She now travels around the country sharing her story in hopes to spread awareness and acceptance of anyone and everyone in the autism community.
As a teenager and Seattle native, Billy suffered a spinal cord injury and became paralyzed from the chest down, losing the ability to move his fingers. Daily tasks became difficult, but using his creative mind and unyielding spirit, he never gave up. He continued on, facing life’s challenges with tenacity and determination. Born out of a need, BILLY Footwear was founded on the principle of inclusion and perseverance. Along with co-founder Darin Donaldson, Billy strives to add value to the lives of others and make a measurable difference in the world, one foot at a time.
Carmen Daniels Jones
A business leader, visionary and advocate, Carmen is the President and CEO of Solutions Marketing Group, a marketing consulting firm, based in Washington, D.C., with exclusive expertise in helping companies and government agencies build deeper, profitable brand relationships with the nation’s 56 million people with disabilities. With over twenty years of strategic consulting experience, Carmen is a leading expert on the dynamics and nuances of disability-focused branding and marketing, employment and customer service. With her work, she advises companies on the viability and economic vitality of the disability market and positions them as inclusive, industry leaders. With her voice, she drives a passionate and informed conversation around the needs and desires disability community — one of strength, empowerment and equality. Carmen is a graduate of Hampton University, with a B.S. in Marketing. During her junior year she was injured in an automobile accident, resulting in paraplegia.
Billy Shoes have a unique opening to put shoes on. Jessica tries Billy Shoes to see how easy they can fit with her prosthetic feet.
Darin is a serial entrepreneur with a passion for innovation and product development. While working on a shoe project of his own, Darin serendipitously reconnected with his long-time friend, Billy Price. Seeing the stars align, Billy asked if Darin would be interested in taking on another project. At first, their goal was to develop a shoe that Billy could put on independently; however, it grew into something much larger. Seeking to dissolve the line between adaptive and mass market footwear through universal design, they sought out to bridge the gap. Thus began the journey of BILLY Footwear.
Jeanine is VP, GM of Nike Ease, where she leads the Nike business for innovative products that serve athletes of all abilities. Jeanine was responsible for creating Nike’s first branded, open innovation program, the Nike Ease Challenge, calling on a broader community to help advance footwear solutions with easier entry/exit and closure systems. She previously served as Nike’s Chief IP Officer, where she designed and led the company’s global programs and strategies for its corporate IP assets and brands (including Jordan, Converse and Hurley). Prior to Nike, Jeanine spent a decade in the Internet industry, holding senior positions with paid search pioneer Overture Services and Yahoo! Inc. Her retail background spans from direct store management through corporate functions.
Jennifer utilizes research in recreational therapy (RT) to better understand how different interventions can improve health outcomes for individuals with disabilities, including personal and environmental factors, social engagement and participation. Her overarching goal is to better understand what type of public health initiatives within the realm of RT have a positive impact on health outcomes among adults and children with disabling conditions within community-based rehabilitation settings.
Jennifer has been the Executive Director for FEAT (Families for Effective Autism Treatment) of Southern Nevada for the past 8 years. Jennifer and her team have grown FEAT from one monthly support meeting each month to currently over 18 programs, support services and events for 7000 individuals annually. Jennifer began with FEAT when her daughter Peyton was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3. Since the diagnosis, it has been Jennifer’s goal to help grow local services and support families impacted by autism.
In three steps, you’ll learn Disability Fashion Styling Expert Stephanie Thomas’s styling system to help you as you shop!
Patrick Downes was a graduate student in psychology when he and his wife, Jessica Kensky, were both critically injured at the Boston Marathon bombing. Patrick lost his left leg below the knee. After searching the country for an answer to Jessica’s injured right leg, the couple was eventually given permission by the U.S. Secretary of Defense to receive treatment at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Patrick was able to take advantage of the Return to Run Program at Walter Reed. Running proved to be possible and therapeutic so he increased his distance until he realized he could run 26.2 miles. He completed the 2016 Boston Marathon with his brother, sister-in-law, and dear friend. This was a meaningful and cathartic return to the finish line where he and his wife had lost so much. Patrick recently completed his Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from William James College in Newton, MA. Patrick has also joined the Board of Overseers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, where he was born and treated after the Marathon bombings.
Jessica was an oncology nurse at Massachusetts General Hospital when she and her husband, Patrick Downes, a graduate student in psychology, were both critically injured at the Boston Marathon bombing. Jessica immediately had her left leg removed below the knee, and eventually lost her right leg below the knee after almost 2 years of limb salvage surgeries and complications. After searching the country for an answer to Jessica’s injured right leg, the couple was eventually given permission by the U.S. Secretary of Defense to receive treatment at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. In September of 2013, Jessica and Patrick gained a new family member from NEADS, who provides service dogs to people who are disabled. Their black lab, Rescue, is a big help and bright spot in their lives. Jessica and Patrick have authored a children’s book entitled, “Rescue and Jessica: A True Friendship,” hoping to teach kids about people with disabilities. Jessica is currently working on her Doctorate in Nursing from the MGH Institute of Health Professions and is working part-time at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Did you know fashion can be accessible? Zappos Adaptive speaks with Gerald about how to find accessible fashion.
Karen is a grandmother of twelve, and one of her grandchildren, Maggie, was born with Down syndrome. In January 2010, she worked with a designer and created Downs Designs, Inc. Their products focused on jeans with a full elastic waist, no buttons, zippers or tags, and soft and stretchy denim. They are stylish, comfortable and enable self-dressing. In 2014, she created a new brand of pull-on jeans and pants for people who have challenges getting dressed. The name of the brand, NBZ, stands for No Buttons Zipperless. The pants and jeans are stylish, comfortable and give the wearer confidence and independence. In 2015, she formed a non-profit company that donates the Downs Designs brand or NBZ Brand through their Adopt-A-Jean Program.
Lauren is the founder and president of Independence Day Clothing, a line of clothing that combines fashion and technology to address style, ease of dressing and safety for people with disabilities. Lauren is a former TV news anchor who left the industry to care for her son Liam, who has autism. Her adaptive clothing line was born out of needs she saw with Liam’s frustration in getting dressed. She saw an untapped market for fashionable yet easy-to-wear clothes. She created reversible clothing, completely free of scratchy seams, buttons, zippers, collars and tags. “We’re not reinventing the wheel. We’re taking what’s out there and adapting it,” she says.
Mindy is the founder of the Runway of Dreams Foundation, a nonprofit that works to broaden the reach of adaptive clothing and promote people with disabilities in fashion through inclusion, empowerment and opportunity. A fashion designer by trade, Mindy spent over 20 years working in fashion as a key member of the design team for the INC collection and stylist for Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City. Mindy’s career path took a slightly new direction when her son Oliver, who has a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy, wanted to wear jeans to school like his friends. She soon realized that millions of people around the globe were also struggling to access fashionable clothing that meets their needs. She developed modifications including closures, adjustments and alternative ways in and out of the clothing to meet a wide variety of needs within the disability community. Envisioning a world where adaptive clothing for people with disabilities is mainstream and accessible for all, Mindy continues to break down barriers and challenge industry norms.
Shining bright with great outfits, confidence and style, Disability Fashion Expert, Stephanie Thomas goes behind the scenes of Zappos Adaptive Photo Shoot for kids.
Nina has dedicated the past ten years raising awareness for Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) shortly after receiving the news of the diagnosis of her only daughter, Malena, now age 11. Nina comes from a professional background having worked for Cisco Systems for the past 16 years enjoying several different roles in product training, account management, and communications. Her passion over the years has been serving underserved communities whenever possible. Nina has been fortunate to accept opportunities and sponsorships from organizations such as Global Genes, AveXis, Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) and Cure SMA.
Stephanie is a congenital amputee missing digits on her right hand and feet who works as a Disability Fashion Styling expert, taste maker and adjunct professor. As a Disability Fashion Styling expert, Stephanie looked for blogs that were all about dressing with disabilities. Since she couldn’t find one, she created cur8able.com. Guided by her Disability Fashion Styling System™ she curates brands, footwear, and accessories for people with disabilities. In addition Stephanie is a trusted stylist for actors and influencers with disabilities in Los Angeles, California, where she also teaches in the Fashion Marketing department at Woodbury University.
Swan Paik is a Senior Director in Nike’s Innovation team. During her 16-year tenure with the company, Swan has held a variety of positions. She started in Nike’s Global Strategic Planning group working with Nike’s C-Suite of executives in setting the company’s long-term growth objectives and strategy. She then headed up Strategic Planning for Asia Pacific, working with 11 country teams to bring Nike’s mission to life for over 1 billion youth. She then became GM for Women’s Training in Asia Pacific, combining her passion for the region with her love of empowering girls and women to play sport. Before her current position, she led the Girl Effect Innovation Portfolio focused on unleashing the full potential of girls living in poverty. Prior to joining Nike, Swan worked at the National Football League, NBC Television, and Miramax Films. She holds a BS in Economics from the Wharton School at U of Penn, and an MBA from Columbia University.
She comes to the Advisory Council with a background in both fashion merchandising and recreational therapy. Tina gained experience in the fashion world while working for Ralph Lauren in New York City. Following 9/11, she decided to make a career change and explore a new path – working with people with disabilities. She completed her master’s degree in recreational therapy and was able to combine her two passions into her master’s project, a self-esteem program for adults with Down syndrome based on fashion and personal style. As a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS), Tina has worked in a variety of community and clinical settings including parks & recreation, hospitals, and skilled nursing facilities. Tina currently resides in Portland, Oregon where she works as a program director for an agency that provides community inclusion support for adults with developmental disabilities. She strives to empower individuals with disabilities while promoting the importance of inclusion in our society.