French designer Lucie Carrasco’s small frame only moves via an electric wheelchair, but her unbounded intellect has moved mountains for her in the fashion industry, proving to the world the folly of imposing limits on the “disabled.” Carrasco has spinal muscular atrophy. As a teenager, she spent four years in a hospital, but her mind could not be confined to its situation. Instead, she used the time to begin designing. Persevering over her disability, she slowly rose in the fashion industry, eventually showcasing her line at the Cannes Film Festival.
Carrasco has proven that she is “stronger than her disease.” She even wrote a book in French with that title. Despite limitations imposed by emotional or physical handicaps you may have as a disabled person, you too may find it possible to work with a disability in the textile industry.
Finding a job in this industry is a lot like crafting the perfect garment First, you need an idea of where you want to go (sketch the concept), then draw the pattern (map out the steps to get the job), and finally assemble it all together (make it happen).
3 Empowering Ways the ‘Disabled’ Can Find a Job in Textiles
Match what you’ve learned with your skill set and interests. Taking an aptitude test like this one for general careers may help you discover strengths you didn’t know you had, which in turn can help you as you figure out the steps needed to land the textile job that is a perfect fit for you!
Fashion designers, for instance, need to have a strong esthetic sense, an eye for color, balance, and proportion, and a deep passion for beauty. They also need good communication and problem-solving skills.
On the other hand, textile manufacturing mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights need to have good logical reasoning and be able to understand blueprints and machine manuals in order to repair complex machines. A good understanding of logistics is important in their field and will take them far.
Lining up your interests with jobs that are a good fit for your strengths will help in sketching your career outfit.
2. Draw your pattern
Now you’re ready to draw your pattern. Your pattern is your guide for the steps you will take to land your dream textile job.
First, you need to discover the requirements necessary to land your dream job. Fashion designers, for example, usually need an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in fashion design. Due to the competitive nature of the field, some couple it with a business, marketing or fashion merchandising degree. Fashion designers also need to know the basics of sewing and pattern making. Even if for most of their career, they don’t do these jobs themselves, they need to be able to give clear instructions on how the garment should be made. Be sure to find a school with lots of hands-on training.
An industrial job is also a lot of hands-on work. You may only need your high school diploma or educational equivalent, depending on how technical you want your job to be. If you want to be a mechanic, you may need to attend post secondary school and take courses in mechanical drawing, mathematics, blueprint reading, computer programming, and electronics. In addition, you may have a year of on-the-job training.
Trade, college, and university programs exist to teach. They want to help you. A good program will work with you to accommodate your needs. Testing out what kind of accommodations you may need in a school setting might be a good step before you land your dream job.
Just like you need the right needle in your sewing machine to work with different types of fabric, you need to make sure that you choose the right tools to get your textile dream job. One of those tools if a formal school, others include real-life experiences. Lucie Carrasco started her career in a hospital with her sketches. Fashion designers constantly need to sell that they are worth the fashion world’s time. She practiced and practiced and developed her portfolio. Whether you aspire to be a designer, a pattern maker, or a mechanic, you need to practice and come up with practical examples of what you can do. You need to find the tools that are the right fit for you to get the job done.
In the end, it’s about the strength and the perseverance inside you that counts. It’s about being stronger than whatever setbacks have come along thus far. Lucie Carrasco says that her “inspiration comes from deep inside” her. What is deep inside of you? What dreams inspire you?
Remember that there are ways to work around a disability. Employers have options, such as increasing the number of breaks, reducing your hours, modifying machinery, etc. to accommodate your disability. Don’t let it stop you.
As retired 4-star U.S. Army General Colin Powel says, “A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work.”