SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – A Santa Fe woman is working to create an inclusive, online space for those with disabilities, chronic conditions, and seniors. Through some of the most difficult and joyous times in her life, Alexandra Herold found inspiration in those around her to create Patti + Ricky, an online marketplace geared towards assisting those who may have difficulties utilizing traditional clothing options.
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The marketplace is named after Herold’s mother, Patti, and her cousin, Ricky. “I grew up with my cousin Ricky and he was unable to walk or talk. He really formed the lens in which I see my own disabilities, as just being human and just a part of the human experience,” Herold said.
Because she grew up with Ricky, Herold said she was able to form a very inclusive lens of how she sees the world. Herold’s mother Patti worked in the New York City fashion industry. When she was 19 years old, Herold’s mother was diagnosed with brain cancer. Herold became Patti’s caregiver and said it was difficult to find clothing that worked for her mother. “She still wanted to feel stylish and beautiful and confident, so there was nothing out there for her,” Herold said.
She found luck at a medical supply store when Herold was looking for a cane for Patti. She ended up special-ordering a cane with pink roses on it for her mother. “I really saw the power of fashion and how her cane could also be a fashion accessory, and how it could be a conversation piece. People started to feel more comfortable approaching her and made my mom feel really good,” Herold said.
Herold herself deals with what she calls invisible disabilities, such as dyslexia, ADHD, anxiety, and POTS. She graduated from Columbia Teacher’s College where she focused on disability studies and has worked with a nonprofit with children with disabilities. All of this would culminate in her finding a way to become an ally for the disability community.
She came across magnetic shirts that looked like regular button-down shirts, but instead of having to button each individual button, the shirt would connect through the magnets. “I thought, ‘Wow these are awesome, why is anyone buttoning? Why aren’t we all magneting or using Velcro? Maybe this is just smarter fashion.’ Which I believe it is,” Herold said.
She knew of a number of companies that offered clothing items designed for easier accessibility, but they were all separated. “No one was bringing together these fashionable and functional and adaptive fashion companies in a beautiful way, so I started with 12 adaptive fashion brands, and today I have over 100 that we work with and that we carry at Patti and Ricky,” Harold said.
One in four U.S. adults has a disability according to the CDC. That’s 61 million adults in the country, many of whom have had to adapt their own clothing through trial and error, Herold said. Her site brings together different options for children and adults in clothing, shoes, and accessories.
“I always wanted to create a beautiful shopping experience with Patti and Ricky, but I also want to be a part of mainstream fashion so that people can walk or roll into their favorite stores or shop online and find things that work for them,” Herold said. “Everyone deserves to shop at their favorite stores and find things that work for them. The disability community is a giant population, and they deserve options and stylish options that are functional.”