As models with disabilities like Jillian Mercado, Madeline Stuart, and others start becoming household names, one might ask, “where are the designers with disabilities?” For a community that prides itself on “nothing about us without us” there seems to be a lot of models (with and without disabilities) wearing clothing made by nondisabled people. And thus, enters our shero. With an infectious laugh, infinite faith, and a drive like none other, Kathy D. Woods is part of an emerging trend of inclusive fashion advocates who see access to clothing that fits people with disabilities, as a critical element to self-confidence, and ultimately, to their success.
Kathy D. Woods is a the owner and operator of a woman’s clothing company showcasing fashions for women, ages 25-45, who want to invest in quality clothing with impeccable fit, style, and timeless appeal. Unlike every other designer with a Singer in their bedroom and an Etsy page, she brings true sartorial skill to a boutique market in dire need of her talents. KDW provides fashionable, high quality clothing that is expressly designed for adult little people.
This former pre-school teacher with a background in special education, and entrepreneur decided to start a clothing venture after decades of struggling to find clothing that fit. If you bought to size, the clothing looked juvenile, if you bought for the age, the typical person with dwarfism swam in the fabric. So Kathy, as many LP women did before her and do today, was resigned to paying twice the price for clothing–once to purchase clothes and once to get them altered to fit her. But she came to want something different. Something for the LP community, by the LP community, where the profits could return to the base and be used to start internships, scholarship programs, programs to subsidize clothing for homeless or abused women with dwarfism to help them get back on their feet. It’s obvious the vision for KDW goes beyond fashion, and Ms. Woods finds inspiration in First Lady Michelle Obama her approach to raising expectations and pride among African-American women and girls. (She got to visit the White House, and meet President Barack Obama in 2015 when she was a guest at the 25th Anniversary celebration of the Americans with Disabilities Act.) Kathy is also spearheading her own production company and is actively working to help transform the perceptions of Little People globally, so that when girls with dwarfism turn on the TV, they’ll be greeted by positive images of their community, versus negative ones.
In an interview with Alyssa Rosenberg in the Washington Post, Kathy D. Woods said
“You look at this generation of little people. They’re attending college, and basically they need to dress the part. My brand will help build confidence and my goal is to provide little people women with the tools to help become successful. You look good, you feel good,” Woods argues. “When you try on clothes that fit your body, it’s like an awakening.”