Stephanie Thomas Doesn’t Let Disabilities Limit Her Abilities

Stephanie Thomas (MFA, 2013 Fashion Journalism) is used to going above and beyond.

When doctors said she’d never be able to walk or dance because she was born missing toes on both of her feet, she went to work.

She not only walked, but became a professional cheerleader for the Chicago Bulls.

Being the first in her family to go to college, Thomas holds a BA in Business Administration & Marketing from Sullivan University, an MA in Communications from Regent University, and an MA in Fashion Journalism from Academy of Art University. She has also been teaching as an adjunct professor for 16 years.

Finding her Niche

When the competitive and often insular world of fashion repeatedly ignored the opportunity to design clothing for people with disabilities, she decided to take matters into her own hands and create her own company.

Cur8able, a “disability fashion lifestyle hub,” provides an inspirational and empowering space for those with disabilities or physical challenges. Cur8able allows people to present themselves to the world on their own terms, rather than within the confines of the mainstream fashion market.

A Voice for the Silenced

Thomas credits much of her success to finding her voice. Before coming to San Francisco to attend the Academy, Stephanie Thomas was, in her own words, “floundering like a fish that accidentally jumped out of its bowl.” She was having a hard time communicating her passion in a way that made sense to other people.

Thomas is well ahead of the curve in creating this safe space for those in her shoes.

The topic of designing ‘adaptable fashion’ was recently one of the most talked about presentations at the annual Davos World Economic Forum. Designing without limits has gained global attention, not only for those affected, but also for politicians, celebrities, and academics—all with the central goal of decreasing and hopefully eliminating overall discrimination as well as the myths behind what it means to design for those with disabilities.

When the Academy interviewed Thomas, she said that she was equally happy to see adaptable fashion front and center in such an important cultural conversation.

At the Academy, Thomas discovered a new way of talking about her work. Turns out, it made all the difference. “I finally got the tools—and actually the idea of taking my work and describing myself as a stylist—that’s all Academy of Art.”

The School of Fashion’s Journalism program paved the way in showing her how to frame the work she was doing and equipped Thomas with what she needed to tackle disability fashion styling from a perspective the fashion industry would understand.

“I had to learn how to tell my story,” says Thomas. She learned to tell her story so well, that she was invited to give a TED talk, which did at TEDxYYC in September 2016.

Thomas’ Legacy

“In 20 years when people think of me,” Thomas says, “I want them to say, ‘Wow, she used fashion as a tool to empower people with disabilities, so that people are able to see them; people will not see their deficiencies, but eye to eye as equals.’”