Susan Hanley the Co-chair for Leep1 is passionate about raising awareness and fighting for the rights for adults with learning disabilities. With an interest and talent for fashion and needlework she came up with the idea for Leep1 to start its own clothing brand. Susan says: “The idea behind the clothing is to raise awareness of adults with learning disabilities and show people what we can do, not what we can’t do.” The message #abilitiesnotdisabilities aims to reduce the stigma and raise awareness of the many barriers and inequalities this community face. Working with a talented artist called Ria from Pyramid of Arts our first designs were created in 2018, which were launched at a fashion show at the Pryzm Nightclub in Leeds.
Susan and Ria’s artistic collaboration is still one of our top selling designs. It is a bright colourful fusion of pattern and texture emblazened with block printed text: “You’ll turn out ordinary if you’re not careful”
MEET THE 2022 Team
I am so excited about the AND project, especially now we have launched our new designs we all created together. Our AND clothing range is sold either online or at a shop in Leeds city centre called Fabrication.
In the future I want to do more self-advocacy training, because nothing about us, without us! I would also like to do more learning disability awareness presentations to the public to get our voices heard. I want to have a stand at public events to promote the AND range so people can see what we can do, not what we can’t do!
Together with the AND team, we want to change public’s perception of learning-disabled adults to see what they can do, not what they can’t. Together, with our brand (AND – #AbilitiesNotDisabilities) we will make this change.
My favourite thing about the AND team is that I get to see my friends and work with them to create amazing designs. I feel proud knowing that I have helped create the AND project. Learning how to become an entrepreneur has given me many skills for me to use in the future. It has helped me improve my art, work as a team, helped my computer skills and I have learnt how to run a business. It has also boosted my confidence and helps me to speak with others.
Whilst on the AND project, I have loved drawing and painting from home. I loved doing the photoshoot and modelling all the different designs. We have done many art projects and designs working together as a team. It makes me feel happy and accomplished when we come together to do different projects.
I got involved in AND right from the beginning, this was because of my involvement with the prototype clothing that was launched back in 2019. I was one of the original models for the clothing and was excited when I was asked to become one of the entrepreneurs helping to shape the business.
Over the weeks we grew in confidence as a team, I feel the area that I really developed in was doing the social media marketing. When the project finishes, I want to become a social media marketeer.
We have just recently modelled the new designs which I really enjoyed; it was great to see the final pictures of the photo shoot, I’m really proud of our work so far.
I’m excited to see the development of the project and being part of the consultation group who will be developing the safe shopping app. This will change the world for many learning-disabled and autistic adults across the UK and possibly beyond
The best thing about being in the AND team is the fact I get to do art. I like that the things I have designed are now on sale in shops. Learning to be an entrepreneur has meant I have learnt many skills that I am hoping to use in the future. I would love to carry on being a great designer for AND and continue to be involved in this amazing project in the future. Skills I have learnt in AND include making decisions that benefit the project. It has also meant my drawing skills have improved and developed. AND has helped me build my confidence.
My favourite part of AND is the artwork. I really enjoyed helping to create the window installation for fabrication. The reason I enjoy working as a team is because I like the support that being in a team provides. I like working with others to create the clothes and the window installation.
The AND project has given me many skills to be able to reach my future goals.
Thanks to our 2021 team members for helping us develop and grow in our first year:
Bernadette now has an online gallery at Outside In where she showcases her artwork. Her confidence has grown and she wants to teach others how to paint with watercolours. She plans to rejoin the project again in the future and is currently focussing on her role as a travel ambassador in Leeds.
Bhupesh was presented the Cultural Designer Award for 2021 after introducing many beautiful henna designs to our collection. He is also recognised as being a key spokesman for the brand and developing connections with Leeds markets.
Colleen has returned to working in The Owl Pub where she is a valued member of their team. Colleen was presented an award for her impressive design skills throughout 2021 and being a lead designer of the team.
Sally continues to draw and write poetry at home. In her short time with us, her Rainbow Girl design proved to be one of the most popular in 2021. The design sold out within weeks of its launch.
Sally wishes to rejoin the programme once Covid has settled and she feels safe to do so.