Friday, February 23, 2007

Hello to Parents of Children with Down Syndrome

My name is Sherry Roberson. I have a 7-year-old niece, named Helen, who has Down syndrome. Helen has led me to a potential business idea. I've learned from my sister, Helen’s mom, that she is challenged in finding clothes that fit Helen properly. I’ve always handed-down my daughter’s clothes to my sister for her girls and I noticed that Helen wears those clothes at an earlier age than my daughter did. My sister explained that because of Helen’s relatively larger waist, she wears a larger size than do most girls her age. But because the size is larger, the arm and leg lengths are usually too long.

It occurred to me that there was an opportunity to produce clothes specifically for this group of children, made specially for them and their body types. I would like to fill this need. I intend to develop a line of clothing designed and manufactured exclusively for boys and girls with Down syndrome. The clothes will be fun, stylish, durable, and - most importantly - they will fit well.

I recently sent out a communication to Buddy Walk coordinators across the country sharing my idea and asking them to pass it along to their support group members. In addition to an explanation of the business idea, I asked for insights and specific information from parents - so that I can better understand your needs. The feedback has been strong and gratifying. Some of it brought me to tears. All of it made me determined to go forward.

That decision is what prompted this blog. While I am thrilled with the response I received from that mailing (and keep those coming!) I need more! Every insight, nuance, set of measurements that you, parents, are willing to share will get us that much closer to clothes that are just right for your children. So, please jump in and comment on this blog or email me directly.

There are two different areas that I need to understand. The most important issue is developing the sizing system for these clothes, specifically for your children. That requires a number of measurements, such as neck, waist, hip, leg length, arm length - and many more. This information is not available in any existing database, but is critical to developing clothes that fit. So, I need to ask you to take those measurements and share them with me.

The other area is product and market specifics. What items of clothing do you have the biggest issue with? What are those issues? How do you address the issue now? What brands do you buy now? Why? What type of style do you prefer? etc....This will help me understand where the greatest need exists, so that we can prioritize correctly.

I've developed a questionnaire and a measurements worksheet to provide a structure for feedback. I'll post those in future blogs, but because this entry is already mighty long, I don't want to post them now and overwhelm you! I'd be happy to email them to you - just let me know that you'd like them. My email address is:

I'd also be thrilled to talk to you directly. My number is 847-401-5832.

I'm new to this blogging world, so I'll be figuring it out as we go along. But, that feels right to me because I think we'll all be figuring out this clothing line together as we go along. I plan to blog two or three times a week, and my sister will blog twice a week.

Until next time, thanks for taking time to read our story and please, please share your thoughts.

Best regards - Sherry.