Founded in 2010, Downs Designs is the first company of its kind.
There are many niches in the fashion industry, from high fashion to costume wear, to performance-wear garments for people in the coal or oil industries. But another very important market is for specially designed garments for people with disabilities who often have difficulty finding clothing that fits properly.
Based in Mentor, Ohio, Downs Designs is a local company that is the first and only company of its kind. Downs Designs was founded to provide comfortable clothing to fit the unique body shape of a person with Down Syndrome. Those with Down Syndrome typically have shorter legs and have less muscle tone which leads to a rounder belly. Additionally, people with Down Syndrome also lack fine motor skills, which make it difficult to wear regular jeans with zippers and buttons.
The key to a successful career is having a great mentor or mentors along the way, Sheryl Sandberg argues in her most recent book Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead. Associate Professor and Public Relations and Marketing Program Director Laura Hammel, APR, Ph.D., defines the word mentor, as she is a trusted counselor and guide on campus.
Hammel was recognized for her mentorship work this past spring. She received the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Greater Cleveland Chapter’s Davis Young Award for Exceptional Mentors 2013 at The Hill Lighthouse Young Awards in Cleveland. The award is given to a professional who exceptionally mentors students and young professionals. Since receiving the award, Hammel was approached for additional mentoring opportunities – on campus and off. “As a faculty member I mentor students in every step of their university career,” Hammel said. “I never saw myself as a mentor in a official capacity before winning the award, though.”