Special-Needs Business Profile: Ross Daniel Adaptive Apparel
By Terri Mauro, About.com Guide
Susan Kleiman started Ross Daniel Adaptive Apparel Inc. after struggling to find “stylish, absorbent, and comfortable socks” to fit over her son’s orthoses.
Ross Daniel Adaptive Apparel’s slogan is “Fashionable Solutions for Special Needs.” Though the product line right now is limited to socks, Kleiman plans to expand into a variety of “easy to put on, stylish clothing for special-needs kids and teens.”
The business is named after Kleiman’s oldest son, who has multiple disabilities. “At birth, we were told that he probably would have issues because he had scattered brain damage. Ross was our first child. He was a surviving twin, so people did not know whether to congratulate us or give us condolences.” At age sixteen, Ross “cannot walk or talk, he is visually impaired and developmentally delayed. He attends The Center for Discovery, a residential school in Monticello, NY.”
Her son’s disabilities inspired Kleiman to start her own business. “I could not find comfortable, fashionable socks for use with his orthoses. I spoke with other parents of special-needs children, spoke with therapists, and researched the manufacturing process of socks. I started RDAA two years ago, but I had to learn about producing socks. I had to test different fabrications, had to make sure the sizing was correct and they washed without falling apart.” The business officially launched in November 2009.
Ross Daniel Adaptive Apparel is now a full-time job for Kleiman, who hopes to keep adding to the product line. “I am planning to develop more fashionable, easy to put on clothing for kids with movement problems.”
Kleiman says her business gives her a “tremendous feeling of success because I am fulfilling a niche and giving our special kids a fashion choice.” She’s received a “wonderful” response from other parents of children with special needs. “They are happy that there is finally a sock on the market that doesn’t make their child’s feet perspire, and has color.”
Kleiman’s advice for other parents considering starting a business is, “If you have a passion and believe in your idea, go for it.” She says the best thing about having her own business is that “it has allowed me to exercise my creativity, I am my own boss, and I feel like I am contributing to the special-needs community.” The hardest thing is “hoping that my idea takes off and I get a return on my investment.”
Parent to Parent:
Kleiman suggests that parents of children with special needs seek out the support they need. “If you have the ability to join a support group to voice your feelings both good and bad, it helps with the everyday challenges of having a special child. Ask for help and surround yourself with people that can do that for you, whether it’s family support or professional support.”