CLEARWATER, Fla. — Madison Orr Hauenstein stood next to a rack of colorful T-shirts.
“If you wear clothes, this is for you,” she said with a smile.
Her new clothing line, Able Threads, has a two-fold mission – get an inspirational message out to the world and put money in the pockets of people facing intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).
“What society thinks of this population, oftentimes, is simply not true,” said Hauenstein, who has been working with the Arc Tampa Bay for nine years.
The shirts all feature unique phrases designed by Madison. Each was inspired by one of the people with IDD she sees at the Arc. Her favorite shirt says "Choose To Be Happy." Other top sellers are "Authentic" and "Think Different."
“I love the authenticity of the names. I think the sayings are so cute and effective. I think people are going to read them and comment on them,” said Pam Ora, who bought a "Do All You Can" shirt. “I can’t wait to wear it.”
Music to Hauenstein’s ears.
“If these sayings and phrases can be true for these people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, can’t they be true of you and I every day?” she said.
Hauenstein says these shirts came along at just the right time for her personally. Her mother has been facing radiation treatments since November – five days after the Able Threads launch.
Despite a stressful kickoff, Able Threads has sold more than $10,000 in shirts in three months.
“I have been able to hold on to this as an anchor and a daily reminder that I can do all things and I can persevere, and I can find joy in my days when I’ve really needed it the most in my life,” Hauenstein said.
The money earned from the shirts gets pumped back into the IDD population at the Arc. Anyone who helps Hauenstein fold or sort clothing gets paid when those shirts sell. Short-sleeved shirts run $30. Long sleeves are $32.
“We need to do all we can. If we are blessed we need to give back,” Ora said.
The company website says, “Able Threads is inspired by the authenticity of people all around the globe with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We believe in joy from unexpected places and hope Able Threads, and our message, can be a source of inspiration for you.”
One-hundred percent of net proceeds benefit people with intellectual and developmental disabilities through The Arc Tampa Bay Foundation.
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