By JACQUELINE LAUREAN YATES, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — The fashion industry just got one step closer to becoming more inclusive with the launch of a new e-commerce platform providing content and products for people with disabilities, health conditions and for caregivers.
Maura Horton, the inventor of MagnaReady, an adaptive apparel line created with patented magnetic closures for people with limited dexterity or mobility, and Sinead Burke, an activist for inclusive design, joined forces to launch JUNIPERuntld, which serves as a content hub and online market place for inclusive and adaptive products.
“JUNIPERunltd is the manifestation of the phrase, ‘nothing about us without us,"” Burke told ABC News’ Good Morning America. “For too long, the communities that we are speaking with, whether it is aging, disability or care, have been spoken to, and what they need and enjoy, both in terms of product offering and content, was assumed rather than created in collaboration.”
“With JUNIPERunltd, our hope was to be a catalyst, to create a platform to uplift everyone’s voices, to provide space and resources for people to tell their own stories in their own words, and to author new narratives that have yet to be considered. Through education, escapism and innovation, we want to provide the tools, opportunities and inspiration for the community to design their own future,” she said.
Horton also said she felt inspired to launch the platform after realizing the void that existed within the fashion industry, and chose to become a pioneer of stylish and functional clothing for the disabled, aging and caregiving communities.
“JUNIPERunltd is a new phase of being able to be an agent for change,” Horton told GMA.
It’s an opportunity for the team to both curate and design new apparel, accessories and products for the community that are functional without sacrificing aesthetic.
There are currently eight brands on the website that feature apparel, technology items, home goods and more.
Horton’s MagnaReady, which was initially created for her husband following his diagnosis with early-onset Parkinson’s disease, is one of the brands included that’s already gained positive feedback since launching.
Gene Rothkopf, 85, who was an executive at one of the largest knitting machine manufacturers, said, “I know something is great when I see it and use it.”
“I am a consultant still working and suffer every day with severe arthritis,” Rothkopf told GMA. “The shirts, pants and jackets made by MagnaReady are a real gift because they are easy to use, very comfortable and very stylish.”
Another MagnaReady-powered brand launching on JUNIPERunltd is Yarrow. The line was created to add a sense of ease to everyday dressing with soft layering and draping, all with hidden magnetic closures. Set to launch in November, the initial capsule collection will include a cardigan, knit jacket, tees and tunics, a dress, pants and jeggings in both standing and seated fits.
Burke and Horton explained that, initially, they did research with their communities to source a collective voice of what the initial iteration of JUNIPERunltd should achieve.
“We created a team of contributors from within our community who had stories to tell,” said Burke. “These are people who face a spectrum of challenges, and have amazing stories and invaluable lessons to share.”
“Building the internal team was essential to be able to execute our visions of elevating underserved communities and finding people who would passionately pursue this mission was vital to our success. We also worked to elevate inclusive design and created an aesthetic that has never before existed for our community,” Burke said.
When selecting brands that will be featured on their platform, Burke and Horton said they look for authentic brands that are aspiring to serve people with disabilities and their caregivers. They also plan to collaborate with companies that are interested in launching new products and services for that community.
“JUNIPERunltd is unique because it offers resources, community, dignity, visibility and representation,” said Horton. “It is a community that uplifts everyone’s voices. Our community can visit the site to find a great recipe or a tip that makes life a little easier: to shop, to connect and share stories of triumph, grief and humanity.”
“Most importantly, it enables every community member to design the future for themselves and others because we need and want involvement, feedback and recommendations,” she added. “JUNIPERunltd is regularly refreshed with new content, products and features that are all based on the community’s needs and wants.”
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