Please tell us about yourself and your business, Able Cause
“Able Cause is a clothing brand that advocates for ability. We are Sam & Sarah, loving parents to Oliver, and twins Ava and Eleanor. Able Cause started out of necessity and our want for a more inclusive future for Eleanor, who lives with cerebral palsy, epilepsy, hydrocephalus and has a severe vision impairment. Despite the daily challenges Eleanor faces, we are constantly reminded that she is more than a disability diagnosis. Now two years old, Eleanor has overcome so many hurdles to show the world that she is able of growth, able of change, able to inspire… she is simply, able, in her own unique ways!”
What are the philosophies and values of Able Cause and what is your mission?
“Able Cause recognises that ability is not limited by mental or physical capacity. We are all uniquely different, yet we are all the same. We are all born into this world with the right to be seen, valued, respected and loved for who we are. Our mission is to empower all people with the belief that they are capable of more than they realise. The #ablemovement exists to celebrate strength of character, human spirit and individuality and to neutralise the stigma surrounding disability.”
How did the idea to create a clothing brand come about?
What has been the most challenging part of starting your business?
“I’m big on ideas but short on time, resources, and capacity. Now that Able Cause is established, I’m constantly making plans for future projects that take action from the #ablemovement, to better serve the community in more tangible ways. I find it challenging having such big aspirations amongst balancing work, home, and family life – and try my best to do each of those things well. That said, when you believe in something with such conviction and take action from your ideas, you can achieve what you set out to achieve.”
Can you share a little bit about the ways that Eleanor’s diagnosis impacts your life as a family? What type of treatment is involved?
“Raising Eleanor has been / is the greatest gift – she has helped shape a different perspective of the world for us, one that we are truly grateful for. Eleanor had a grade 4 intraventricular haemorrhage (brain bleed) between 28-30 weeks gestation due to acute Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS). The life we had envisioned, our ideals and expectations were shattered to pieces and for a while, we weren’t sure if we would be bringing both the girls home from hospital. Initially Eleanor’s prognosis was palliative, but she defied all odds and fought to be here with us today.
Ava and Eleanor spent 66 days across NICU and special care, during which time Eleanor developed hydrocephalus (excess cerebrospinal fluid that collects in the brains ventricles) which meant that the fluid had to be drained from her brain every few days. Sarah was driving into the hospital every day to be with them in special care. During this time, our family life was totally upside down and we just did what we had to do, the best way we knew how.
Fast forward two years and two major surgeries later, Eleanor is in a relatively good place and our new-normal is just normal! My wife Sarah runs the family calendar and Eleanor’s therapies. Eleanor relies on physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech and vision therapy and there’s always several allied health appointments to attend, mainly related (but not limited) to neurology. When Eleanor gets sick, she can require oxygen to help her fight a common cold and it almost always increases her seizures.
Whilst we do our best to manage our new world, we often feel as though we don’t have enough hands and time to attend to everyone’s needs / wants. Ollie and Ava are both thriving independently, though it is challenging to provide everything they need from us when Eleanor requires one-on-one care and interaction to provide her with equal opportunities for play, socialisation and learning-based activities, not to mention her early intervention therapies.”
What is the most rewarding part of your business?
“There are little rewards everywhere! Day-to-day, I love seeing every customer order, take pride in inspecting it, packing it with care and sending it off with the courier. On a deeper level, I find it personally rewarding connecting with people. Whether it’s another parent of a child who lives with disability, or someone who lives with a disability, or our supporters who truly believe in what we’re doing. It’s fulfilling doing something with social purpose and such good intent, with the belief that we are making a difference to other people’s lives. Life is short and I don’t want to waste an opportunity to make a difference.”
What is next for Able Cause?
“We see an opportunity in early childhood education to start the building blocks for positive young mindsets towards disability. Kindy aged children are so impressionable. They’re discovering their own identity, strengthening social connections with their peers and developing a greater understanding of the world around them and their place within it. We would like to start the conversation about all-abilities with children from a young age in a fun, engaging way with the goal of developing universal views of ability. Daycare centres are the hubs of future society, from the educators to the children, their siblings and parents. If we’re able to plant the seed of positivity and acceptance for all people before children reach school, we will have a much better chance of achieving a more inclusive future.”