Keisha Greaves - Great Companies Women Entrepreneur Award Winner 2023
Name: Keisha Greaves
Business Name: Girls Chronically Rock
Establishment (Year): 2017
Category/Industry: Manufacturing and Retail
Profession/ Specialty: Fashion Designer
Social Media: Instagram
Girls Chronically Rock is a fashion brand for the disability community. The word "chronic" in its name is a reference to people living with chronic illnesses. The fashion line is a collection of apparel items for people living with disability with clothing specially designed for men and women. The company's mission is to create, motivate, encourage, inspire, and let people know that you rock and can accomplish anything you put your mind to. GCR ADAPTIVE PROJECT is on a mission to let people know that even chronic illness cannot stop them. You can be chronically ill and awesome. It is not enough to say this to people. We must get them to feel amazing. Achieving that in the disability community involves understanding their peculiarities, their needs, their challenges, and their worries. Being a member of the community herself and someone living with chronic illness, Keisha Greaves, founder of Girls Chronically Rock understands that much of this has to do with getting dressed in ease each day. With the Girls Chronically Rock Adaptive Project, Keisha aims to make men and women with disability feel more confident. Through clothing specially made for them, they would understand that they rock but beyond that they would feel that awesomeness because now they do not have to worry about appearing different in the larger society. The Girls Chronically Rock Adaptive fashion line would make adaptive clothing more accessible and popular in mainstream fashion.
Unique Selling Proposition or Competitive Advantage:
I was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy at age 24. Back then, I had never thought of how the lives of people living with chronic illnesses felt. I was a fashion student at the time of my diagnosis, and I lived and breathe fashion. The opportunity to learn about adaptive fashion was not there because no one was thinking in that direction. Living with Muscular Dystrophy changed my life and I have incorporated my story of surviving and living with Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy into my fashion brand. I have made it a point to pass the message that Girls Chronically Rock. My fashion brand is currently a t-shirt line that has given inspiration to many people within the disability community. We are spreading the message of strength and the unique beauty of every individual including those living with chronic illnesses. Being a Muscular Dystrophy warrior myself, I understand first-hand what members of the disability community are going through especially when it comes to getting dressed every day. Adaptive Fashion is a necessity and until it gets into mainstream fashion and in stores, and people within the disability community would continue to feel discomfort and a sense of exclusion from fashion and life. Therefore, Girls Chronically Rock is working on her own adaptive clothing line to create adaptive clothing of all types for people who have muscular dystrophy and other disabilities. The company is also teaching current fashion students about adaptive fashion. We are trying to add our voice to the fashion worries of wheelchair users and other members of the disability community. Girls Chronically Rock is telling the story of this need from a personal perspective. We understand the urgency attached to not feeling stuck while trying to get dressed. We have entered partnerships to bring this voice to the table. We are currently collaborating with Framingham State University to teach fashion students in the fashion department about adaptive fashion. Achieving the results that would change the clothing game for the Muscular Dystrophy community require concerted and intensified efforts of everyone. The more people who make adaptive clothing available, the easier to access and the more fashionable they would be. But there is a challenge. Funding the adaptive fashion project is a major hurdle. Creating designs that work for every member of our community and getting these designs into the market especially in stores is a feat that is comprehensive and capital intensive. Getting the Girls Chronically Rock adaptive line to people who need it will create a critical change in fashion and a much-needed impact on an individual level for everyone who lives with disability.
Challenges Faced During the Journey:
For someone who sits on a wheelchair all day or someone who wears braces, slipping buttons in place and maneuvering zippers can be a hassle. Finding the right size of pants or jeans that accommodate their peculiarities can also be impossible. As a result, getting dressed in the morning is not quite the thrill for these people. More than that, clothing impairs the confidence of people with disabilities when it looks and feels different from what others wear. The current challenge is that adaptive clothing is not accessible to everyone. Not all stores carry this kind of clothing and many of the ones who do operate wholly online making the process of shopping for clothes tedious. Adaptive fashion needs to get into more stores, be more up to date, and more diverse so that people with disabilities have a variety of choices and many stores where they can obtain their clothing. They should not have to resign to whatever they find but should be able to choose what they want and wear what they love. At the same time, the designs should give them an instant boost of confidence that makes them feel included.
Advice for Women Entrepreneurs:
Never give up! If you have an idea or something you want to accomplish, connect with other entrepreneurs, join different business groups in Facebook and network. Before you know it, your business idea will be up and running.