STYLE Canada Changemaker Stephanie Thomas - STYLE Canada

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Stephanie’s journey is as non-linear as it gets—but she has her meandering path to thank for the insight, tenacity, and resolve that inform every aspect of the way she works with clients. As someone who was always enamored with music, theatre, and dance, Stephanie Thomas spent two years as a professional cheerleader and captain for the Chicago Bulls cheerleading squad (despite being told she may never be able to walk independently due to her non-severe disability), and earned her first graduate degree in communications with an emphasis in theatre.

In 1992, she competed in the Miss Kentucky preliminary pageant and, out of necessity, began researching and following clothing trends for people with disabilities. She had no intention of starting a business—she simply wanted to find solutions for challenges related to dressing with disabilities. The problem was there weren’t any—and it was that realization that started her on her now 30-year journey of educating the public on ableism in the fashion industry and working to change it.

After her countless inquiries to iconic fashion houses were met with little interest, Stephanie decided she couldn’t wait for the industry to change—she needed to change the industry. She went on to develop her now award-winning Disability Fashion Styling System® in 2004, earned a second graduate degree in fashion journalism in 2006, and, in 2018 turned my disability fashion styling blog (then called Luv What U Wear) into Cur8able—an acclaimed company that has served brands ranging from Nike to Zappos as it works to eradicate ableism in the fashion industry while empowering people with disabilities to dress with confidence. 

Today, Stephanie helps executives, leaders, and academics better reach and serve people with disabilities through her work as a speaker, author, stylist, and lobbyist. She has appeared on national television outlets and in industry-leading publications, has become the go-to Hollywood stylist for actors with disabilities, has coined language that’s now commonly used in the zeitgeist to discuss dressing people with disabilities, and has spent 25 years as a sought-after voice actor….but more so than accolades or appearances, it’s her authentic lifelong connection to the disabled community that gives her credibility and brings her joy.

Check out our other Changemakers.

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