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 that we should celebrate abilities not disabilities 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 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.
My hobbies are art and my favourite medium is watercolours I like to do colouring books to help me relax. I also enjoy jigsaws, horse riding and cooking.
I like being part of the AND team and being able to do lots of art. Being able to sell my work makes me feel good and really proud. It’s important to learn new skills and I really enjoy understanding how the business works.
I would love to be an artist and show others how to draw and use watercolours and share and teach my skills. My artwork skills have got better since I joined the AND team.
Being with my friends helps my confidence and improves my art and being able to sell my artwork makes me feel confident. Doing the photoshoot made me feel really proud.
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.
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.
I want more people to join AND from different cultures. I want to listen to other people’s stories who have learning disabilities.
At AND I have learnt art skills, IT skills and teamwork skills. It has helped me to become more confident and positive and allowed me to express my spirituality and be more relaxed.
My favourite bit of the project was designing the hand henna painting, it is called mehndi in Hindu. It is important to me as it shows my spirituality and introduces my culture. Mehndi is used in Diwali Festival of Light and at Hindu weddings. I love going to Diwali Festival of Light, so it was important for me to show this in my designs. Working as a team means working with others with equal opportunity and respect. It makes us happy and joyful when we work as a team.
After college I became a member of Leep1, when I first started there, I was terribly shy and I used to put my head down and my hands over my face. My confidence grew within the first few months and I really loved making friends with the members there. Everybody was so nice to me and I felt so welcomed by everyone.
I love being part of the AND project as I love art and design. My sunflower design I chose to draw was inspired by the artist Vincent Van Gough. It feels amazing that my design is on bags for people to buy.
I loved doing my first photo shoot it made me feel happy and positive and I loved posing in the new designs.
One of my favourite things to do is art, art makes me feel like I can express myself and I get lost in a world of art. I love to write poetry and stories; I want to read them to more people so they can hear what I have written.
I saw a post on the Leep1 group page, and I applied to become one of the entrepreneurs on the course. I enjoy working with the AND team and love expressing myself through the designs I make. We all work well together, and we are a brilliant team. My art has improved since joining, my designs that I have developed for AND I wanted to give them strength and positivity. I used lots of words like peace, strength, and hope in my designs. One of my designs is a memory for my mum who has passed away, I drew this picture because every time I look at this design it makes me happy.