When Alexandra Connell Herold ’10 thinks back on her time at HWS, she fondly recalls a community that ultimately led to her business helping people. Featured in more than 60 news publications, Patti + Ricky, an adaptive fashion marketplace for people with all abilities, began with Herold’s simple idea: “What if I sell empowerment?”
The company is named for Patti, Herold’s late mother who was going through chemo when they special ordered “fun canes” to showcase her personality, and Ricky, Herold’s cousin and the reason her American Girl Doll had a wheelchair when she was growing up. Patti + Ricky showcases products created by medical professionals and more than 80 designers, most of whom have loved ones with disabilities or have disabilities themselves.
Patti + Ricky products include braille jewelry, arm slings, rain capes and insulin pump belts, all of which, Herold notes, are designed for the wearer to feel good and cool. After starting with magnetic button down shirts nearly three years ago, Herold hopes to expand Patti + Ricky as a pop-up store or section in a department store while also creating new in-house products to fulfill demand. “I didn’t know it was going to manifest this way,” Herold says. “I’ve always seen myself as a disability advocate, but didn’t know how I was going to help people with disabilities.”
While on campus, Herold, a psychology major with minors in education, child advocacy, and peer education in human relations, started HWS’ Eye-to-Eye chapter, a mentoring program that pairs middle school students with college students who have learning disabilities. She worked with Associate Professor of Education Mary Kelly, Associate Professor of Psychology Julie Kingery and Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning Susan Pliner to understand how to best support and empower individuals with disabilities.
Through Patti + Ricky, Herold proves that medical equipment can be fashionable and beautiful: that functional fashion is possible. “I hope that people who have been doubted based on their ability – whether they have a disability or not,” she says, “can create and go into their passion and help people.”
Patti + Ricky showcases products from more than 85 designers, most of whom have loved ones with disabilities or disabilities themselves.