Ann Oliver launched her first Xeni Collection earlier this year – a small range of adaptive clothing for women like her; she is a wheelchair user with Multiple Sclerosis.
You may have already visited the Xeni website, having heard of it through the excellent PR coverage Ann managed to generate. I was referred to Xeni by a friend who heard Ann talking on Radio 3 about her background as an architect, her interest in design and how her own inability to find stylish clothing became her inspiration to found her own line: Xeni.
I am sure I was not the only person who found that whilst the current Xeni Collection does not suit my personal needs, there was much to admire in the thought, time and sheer graft that Ann has clearly invested in her project.
I was immediately aware of the overlap in business ethos between my own ideas for +Black – aimed at a broader market than that of disability – and Ann’s concept of Xeni as providing Fashion for the Unconventional, or adaptive wear. Ann and I began emailing and sharing ideas and thoughts.
Having generated a lot of interest in Xeni, Ann is now looking to develop and expand her business and is seeking feedback from anyone who is interested in fashion and style for those with mobility and dexterity impairments.
She has set up a short survey on her website for anyone who is interested to complete and I would encourage you to help her or pass a link on to anyone you know who might be able to. The survey is here: Xeni Collection Survey.
There really are not many businesses about who provide, or are even interested in providing, well designed, good quality, interesting clothing for those with specific needs arising from mobility or dexterity impairments. Like me and Ann, most of us spend hours of time, energy and money searching fruitlessly for what we need or something that will do. Ann is one of the few people out there trying to make life easier but she needs your help to do so.
It would be great to see Xeni succeed as, in disability terms if not national financial ones, we really are all in this together, aren’t we? Thank you for your help and, as ever, if you’d like to comment on anything I’ve written here, please do.