Nikki Hind works as a fashion designer. While she’s always been passionate about clothes and design, her strong sense of social justice drives her work in fashion.
“I think the fashion industry and public relations industry is just so powerful”, Nikki says.
“My aim is that disability is represented in the glossy high end magazines in an inclusive, equal manner.”
Nikki is legally blind.
“I was born legally blind in my left eye so I can only see like very big, big shapes,” Nikki says.
“I walked into a horse once,” she laughs.
In her mid-30s, Nikki had a stroke that further damaged her vision. As a result, she has no peripheral vision and no depth or distance perception.
Nikki has two teenage boys, whom she says make her very proud. They live in central Albury, in regional NSW, and they walk and ride their bikes everywhere. But she says she wishes schools were more attentive to asking about parent access needs.
“It’d be great if schools consider accessibility for parents who have disability as a matter of course so we can get some extra help we need for things like getting our kids to school,” Nikki says.
She says that while she’s a capable business woman, the expectation she doesn’t need help in transporting her children sometimes makes her feel incapable.
Nikki started a fashion label called Blind Grit in 2015. She has designed a range of athleisure wear, describing it as “good looking fitness gear that you can break a sweat in”.
She’s Australia’s first legally blind fashion designer and has ensured that Blind Grit is a fashion label that’s built entirely around people with disability. Her clothes have featured in Marie Claire magazine and at Melbourne Fashion Week.
Nikki went to TAFE and studied fashion design, and credits the course for being accessible and inclusive. She received help when needed (she was given extra time to thread the machine and in sewing tests), but was also encouraged to complete projects in the same time as everyone else.
Nikki can see the colours and textures of fabrics, and is grateful for fashion design software that allows her to zoom in to see minute details on designs. She would love to raise money to get this software, which would enable her to do in-house pattern making at her own pace. She still avoids threading the overlocker though!
Nikki plans to launch her clothing range in the near future, COVID-19 restrictions dependent, and is very keen for people who model her clothes to be people with disability.
She wants to see better representation of disability across the whole fashion industry – from designers to models to magazines.
“I can’t believe it’s 2020 and it’s still such a difficult thing to break into and be represented,” Nikki says.