Victoria Jenkins: The Hatch Founder Tackling Ableism

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Hatch graduate Victoria Jenkins is on a mission to change the fashion world for good, and last week at the TEDxBrighton event she explained exactly why the clothing she produces through her company Unhidden is so needed.

Unhidden is a sustainable adaptive fashion brand bringing dignity and style to people with disabilities and chronic health conditions, designing clothes to suit every body and every need. 

Victoria founded Unhidden after an encounter with a woman in hospital who had to remove all of her clothing when the doctors came to access her stoma, arm line, or chest port, and was only able to wear loose-fitting loungewear.

“She told me she wanted to dress in nicer clothes – but nothing would adapt. It was then, in that hospital, in front of that amazing lady that the idea of Unhidden was born.”

In her TED talk Victoria explained that ableism – discrimination and social prejudice against people with disabilities – impacts every single one of us, and is built into our culture.

From do not resuscitate (DNR) orders given during Covid, to governments not having evacuation strategies for disabled people, the examples she gave show just how insidious and dangerous this discrimination is.

Victoria emphasised that disabled is not a bad word, and that the disabled community is one of the most wonderful communities to be a part of. It is also one of the only marginalised groups that anybody could become part of at any point in their lives.

Universal design, that includes disabled people in its conception, makes things better for everybody. For example drop curbs, closed captions, and artificial intelligence interfaces all make the world more accessible for disabled people, but are used almost universally and benefit everyone. 

Universal design is also fun and creative, and has the potential to be so much more than just loungewear. Launching Unhidden has enabled Victoria to channel her vast experience and talent for fashion into something with a far reaching positive impact.

Victoria was able to boost her business growth through attending a Hatch Impact Incubator in 2021. 

She said: “Hatch provided me with a (zoom) room full of support – I have met some of the members in real life now, I am even on the board of one of the other members’ business!

“The sessions were really packed with information and action to take and the guests brought in to speak were all experts in their field and happy to take questions from us all.

“I still find it very serendipitous that the day before I had to pitch live on a stage for Enterprise Nation, that Hatch had a pitching workshop – and using what I picked up, I won the award I was pitching for! [Female Start Up of the Year 2021]”

Victoria now has a whole host of exciting things on the horizon with Unhidden, and we look forward to celebrating her progress as she shakes up the fashion world!

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