I decided to do this interview as I believe firmly in the ethos of the Fashioneyesta company. When I discovered Scarlett was blind, the thought ran through my mind regarding buying pretty dresses and her appreciation of it. I already had a wardrobe of beautiful things for Scarlett to wear and always imagined dressing her like a little doll until she gave me some resistance :). For her first birthday she looked remarkably like a ‘Big Fat Gypsy (see left)’, but I think that is all part of the fun of having a little girl, so when I knew she may not get the appreciation of style like a sighted child would, I must admit it was a slightly sad revelation.
The founder of Fashioneyesta believes that regardless of a visual impairment, the confidence and expression gained through fashion should not be lost, so please all take the time to read about all the wonderful work 19 year old Emily Davison is doing to promote a sense of individuality through style.
1.Can you please tell me about yourself. Just general stuff about where you live, your age, your family and location. And do you have a sight problem yourself.
My name is Emily Davison a 19 year old Londoner, BA English literature student at Goldsmiths University, with a passion for writing and retail therapy. I was born with a rare condition called Septo Optic Dysplasia, the condition affected my vision, leaving me with no sight in my right eye and 10% remaining vision in my left eye as well as the eye condition nystagmus.
2.Can you please tell me about the history of Fashioneyesta, when did it start, how did it start, what motivated you to start the business, what is your ethos?
Fashioneyesta was founded in July 2012 on the cusp of the Paralympic Games, it was founded with the purpose to make the world of fashion, cosmetics and style accessible to blind and partially sighted people.
The backstory behind Fashioneyesta is both one of amusement, but also one that left me in complete amazement. In the Summer of 2012 I had been matched with my first Guide Dog and was enjoying the luxuries of London, traveling to different places of interest. On one particular day I resolved to use the London Underground service and was awaiting for a member of staff to open the access gate. For a while nothing happened, but then a staff member instructed me to use one of the normal gate services. I asked him why and he informed me that it was for disabled people. I responded that indeed I was and gestured to the space that he could not see. On noticing that I had a Guide Dog he asked if I was the trainer and when I responded ‘No’ he replied in a very blunt way ‘You don’t look blind.’
Those four simple words were what caused me to begin Fashioneyesta and contrary to what some of you may think, I am exceedingly grateful that he spoke those words.
I had been enlightened to some of the conceptions that the public had towards the way a visually impaired person connection with their own self image. On researching further into this I discovered some of the grossly unfair misconceptions that the public had towards Visually impaired people and fashion. It seemed that many believed that two entities didn’t mix and thus crass jokes towards visually impaired people were cultivated into society. There have been countless tweets that jibe people for their fashion sense claiming that they have ‘the fashion sense of a blind person.’
And so, Fashioneyesta was born.
3. How do you think in general, in particular VI women currently look at and see fashion?
The current relationship towards visual impairment and fashion is slowly but surely being strengthened. Although there is a tremendous amount of work to be done, many organizations, companies and charities need to improve their services and resources for blind and partially sighted people and I am determined to see this through.
But, I feel that many visually impaired women share similar opinions to me. Many agree that being sight impaired should not hinder our innate desire to feel confident about ourselves. After all, being sight impaired does not have to affect your inner feelings.
Many of my readers say that they find things like color matching a challenge or applying certain make up products. However, the general opinion is that style is key to living a normal life and therefore no matter how hard the challenge, it is important to find their own unique style.
4.Are you currently working with any charities on any projects
I have a few tricks up my sleeve!
But, some must remain a secret until they are in concrete.
But, I am also working with the Royal London Society for the Blind.
5.How can people read your blog and find out what fashioneyesta can offer people?
There are plenty of ways they can find out about my blog! All of the social links are listed below, but really they can just visit fashioneyesta.com and peruse the website as they wish. It is fully accessible!
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Fashioneyest…
eBay Store: http://myworld.ebay.co.uk/emilykd94?_…
I appear on RNIB’s Insight Radio at 2.15 pm.
Sign Up to My Mailing list
5.When thinking about clothing etc, do you place more emphasis on things like textures in order to make it more sensory pleasing?
When I choose clothing I look at the shape, the style, if it’s embellished, the texture, the lining, it’s heaviness and color.
Essentially I like my clothes to be well made, tactile, pleasing to the touch, but I also enjoy experimenting with color.
I love things like Kimonos because of the shape, the soft materials and the array of patterns they come in. Another style of clothing that I am fond of is the 1950s New Look dress. The shape of the dress is a classic, feminine and striking outline that would suit a number of different shapes. For me, it is one of the most accessible styles of dresses for a visually impaired person and I do wish they were more readily available in 2013.
7.As we are a family support network do you have any advice for parents about how they should approach things like dress sense with their own children?
I think the important thing is to strike a balance with how much of a critic you are, do not be to harsh when your visually impaired son or daughter experiments with their clothes. But, do not beat around the bush either, if they are going to leave the house in something that you fear they may be ridiculed by their peers for just tell them. In the long run they will appreciate you much more for it, I can wager this by personal experience.
Another tip is if your visually impaired daughter is having trouble with make up it is vital that you assist them with the application process. I hear a lot of stories about parents not teaching their daughters make up skills due to the fact that the parents themselves are not make up wearers. But, even if you yourself do not wear make up, it is important that you give your daughter the tools to be able to. Or take her to a reputable make up counter like Clique who can teach them make up application skills.
Don’t be afraid to step in if they are making a mistake, they may become offended by you doing so but it is important that you grow a thicker skin and explain why you are doing so.
When helping them choose clothes, always explain the outfits to them in exact detail and suggest things that they can wear them with. Begin to equip them with the tools to be able to plan outfits for later years. Even if this requires you learning about fashion and style, if you equip your children with the skills for later life they will remain within them for years to come.
If you do not feel comfortable advising them yourself, get advice and tips from professionals that you can relay back to your son or daughter. Visit age relevant shops and establishments such as TopShop and Dorothy Perkins to get ideas for current trends. Browse through different age related magazines that offer fashion and lifestyle advice.
The RNIB offer a fantastic range of accessible magazines available in braille, audio and large print and RNIB’s Insight Radio also discuss article features from magazines such as Cosmopolitan.
My mother is an inspiration to me; she was very bohemian in style, elegant and feminine. She had a good eye for fashion and loved all things vintage and kitsch. I have early memories of her sporting her hair rollers and applying eye shadow before leaving for work. When I was old enough, she encouraged me to get into fashion, but never forced me. She would ways be frank with me if I had applied my make up incorrectly or had not chosen an outfit properly. I was never disheartened, but instead learned to appreciate her comments and was exceedingly grateful for her constructive criticism.
Leaving them to their own devices can really hinder their skills with personal style and personal care. So, I would always advise you to offer their help while they are young until you personally think they are comfortable to access fashion without your support.
8. What is your involvement with Insight Radio?
I am a volunteer broadcast journalist for Insight Radio. I appear on air every Friday at 2.15 pm on The Daily Lunch with presenter Jill Daley to talk all things fashion, cosmetics and lifestyle.
9.What does making a choice about how you dress and how you look mean to you?
It gives me control and for me that is extremely important. But it also gives me confidence and installs a sense of direction in me. It motivates me to get up every morning with the knowledge that I am showcasing a new outfit to the world. But it also is one further step towards breaking down barriers and changing the stereotype of sight Impairment.
10. Is there any further you would like to add to include in the article?
I would highly encourage people to get in touch with me if they feel that they have an issue or want to raise a concern. I am passionate about what I do and I would not have begun Fashioneyesta if not to improve the lives of those I claim to serve.
I am very keen to start campaigning, but the only way I will be able to do this is if I get an even higher following, more feedback and more support from charities and organizations.
There is a tremendous deal of work to be done and the more Fashioneyesta can expand the quicker the work can begin.
I would highly suggest learning about the history of fashion above everything else. Like any practice, it is paramount to know about bygone eras, individuals and movements. Fashion is art and it has a long history, which if you have a knowledge of you will be better equipped to experiment with clothing.
From the fashion worn by the ancient Egyptians to the styles that revolutionised the 1920s, the history of fashion is extremely interesting and insightful.
Get advise on which colours suit you and how to match colours, having a sense of colour coordination is key. So investing in the right assistive technology and getting the right guidance to act as your foundation will really assist.
Read a number of different magazines to get a sense of what is going on, but down feel disheartenend if you maybe cannot afford to update your wardrobe based on new trends.
Being classic and knowing your own style is what will get you noticed. To become a fashion icon you need to have a sense of direction and individuality to become one. Don’t be cultivated to be a fashion sheep, shop in different places, a mixture of high street, vintage, designer and second hand fashion can make the best combinations. You can look classy and individual by having an outfit of top to toe charity shop or vintage, it is just how you wear it.
And never let what anyone says thwart your better judgement, after all fashion is your opinions expressed through what you wear and no one has the right to judge you on that.
Be bold, be brave and have fun!