Ranavat Botanics is dedicated to going beyond skincare to create a community around empowerment. Just as we want to help instill confidence and promote self-care, we want to celebrate beauty that goes more than skin deep. One way we’re doing this is by sharing stories from incredible individuals who have faced adversity and turned their experiences into empowerment—what we call a “Claim Your Crown” moment.
Getting dressed every morning is a daily act that so many of us take for granted. For a fashion lover like Mindy Scheier, it’s something she looks forward to every day. But for her son Oliver, who was born with muscular dystrophy, the simple act was a painstaking challenge that served as a constant reminder of his disability and prohibited him from wearing what he wanted to wear. With 20 years of experience working in the fashion industry, Scheier knows clothing has the power to be transformative and inspire confidence. Here, she shares with us her Claim Your Crown moment—how she empowered her own son through fashion-minded adaptive clothing and how she’s educating the fashion industry and pushing it forward to recognize this underserved population.
One day after school, Mindy Scheier’s eight-year-old son Oliver came to her and told her he wanted to wear jeans. This wasn’t just an ordinary fashion request from a third grader. Oliver was born with a rare form of muscular dystrophy, which limited his strength and his ability to get dressed in the morning. Consequently, he gravitated toward sweatpants until one day when he wanted to wear jeans, just like the other kids at school. As soon as Scheier heard her son’s dream, she knew she had to make it happen.
Mindy Scheier and her son Oliver Scheier. Photo: Leandro Justen
That night, Scheier used her fashion industry skills to adapt a pair of jeans for her son—removing the zipper and replacing it with velcro, looping in a rubber band to create stretch, and cutting the side seams at the cuffs to accommodate his leg braces. The jeans were ready for Oliver to wear to school the very next day. “When he put them on, he absolutely beamed,” Scheier recalls. “That was my first foray into the world of adaptive fashion and truly the lightbulb moment when I knew I had to combine these two areas of my life to spark change.”
What started as a craft project for a mother to empower her son has now grown into a revolutionary movement transforming the fashion industry and impacting a global community. After realizing the need for fashion-minded adaptive clothing that makes its wearers feel comfortable and confident, Scheier launched Runway of Dreams Foundation, a nonprofit that works to broaden the reach of adaptive clothing and promote people with disabilities in the mainstream fashion industry.
“When I first set out to start Runway of Dreams, I realized I only knew the challenges that Oliver faced as a child with muscular dystrophy,” reflects Scheier. “I took a step back and knew I needed to fully immerse and educate myself in this world and talk to everyone and anyone I could.” Scheier dedicated an entire year to conducting research, visiting schools, facilities, and hospitals, and speaking with children and their parents.
Today, Runway of Dreams has a global reach and has made noteworthy advances in the industry. In 2016, Runway of Dreams partnered with Tommy Hilfiger to create the very first mainstream line of adaptive clothing for children. “That was a groundbreaking moment in the industry,” explains Scheier. “It really shows how Runway of Dreams has led a movement to change the fashion industry to be inclusive of people with disabilities.” The foundation also hosts an annual Runway of Dreams Fashion Show and Gala with this year’s taking place on September 5th in New York City. “It gives me pride that we are reshaping how our world views people with disabilities through a fashion lens,” notes Scheier.
Scheier measures the success of the foundation by how it’s able to impact the community globally through many different avenues, including its model lookbook program, its efforts with designers and the adaptive clothing they’re able to make, its clothing donations, grant program and more. Through Runway of Dreams, she hopes to “fully integrate people with disabilities in every aspect of the industry and to see adaptive fashion truly become mainstream, in the same way we have plus size, petites, and maternity lines.” Instead of waiting for the world to change, Scheier’s made it her mission to tackle the challenges the industry has long ignored and she envisions a more inclusive future. “We’ve made progress, but we still have a ways to go.”Support Runway of Dreams Foundation by making an online donation today.