Marcia Antony of I Exist and True That tells us how struggling to find clothes inspired her to set up her own business, how she pivoted her business when the pandemic struck, and why we are all superhuman.
How do you identify as disabled, and what does it mean to you?
I have multiple sclerosis and am a wheelchair user, which affects pretty much every part of my life. However, it is not what defines me! There’s so much more to me than just that.
Tell us a little about your business.
I Exist Clothing is an adaptive fashion brand which is considerate of people’s physical and emotional needs, as well as social and environmental issues.
I really struggled to find clothes which I liked and which were suitable for my physical needs...
Why did you set up your business? Share your story so far.
I set up I Exist because I really struggled to find clothes which I liked and which were suitable for my physical needs. The company was founded in 2019, just before the pandemic really hit, at which point everything came to an abrupt halt! In response to the pandemic, I set up a second business, True That, which prints positive messages on eco-friendly products.
Now that we are out of lockdown, I am able to move forward with I Exist, and will officially launch early in 2022 in time for the spring season. My plan is that True That will exclusively design some products for I Exist.
What are the main challenges you’ve faced in your business so far?
Apart from covid, the main challenge faced by my business has been my lack of business experience and skills, although, I have been blown away by the help that I have received so far. Going forward, these challenges continue to be difficult for the development and growth of I Exist, and I would very much welcome any assistance offered by the community.
What is your greatest achievement?
My greatest achievement has to be just getting through each day. Being disabled is not easy, and, as mentioned previously, affects pretty much everything and every one in my life.
I am also really proud of my son! I am a single parent of a child with ASD, which doesn’t marry well with the unpredictability of MS. Plus of course there have been the practical difficulties of caring for a child, when it feels like you can’t really even care for yourself. We have had some really difficult times and at times I had to ask social services for support, but we have come out the other side of it, and he is a brilliant young man who is well on his way to doing exactly what he wants to do. I don’t think he realises just how proud of him I actually am!
If there was one thing you could change about peoples’ perception of disability what would it be and why?
There may be some things that we need help and understanding with, but that does not mean that we are incapable – far from it in fact. I admire every individual who manages to get through each day even when it’s a struggle, whether their disability is visible or not. These people are incredibly resilient and adaptable. We are all SUPERHUMAN!