There’s nothing like good clothes to inspire self-confidence. Karen Bowersox has witnessed this first-hand. As the founder of Downs Designs, a burgeoning business that creates garments tailored specifically for individuals with Down syndrome, the 65-year-old has seen the transformative effect that a pair of well-fitting pants can have on her customers. And most importantly, she sees how these clothes have positively affected her 9-year-old granddaughter, Maggie, who was born with Down syndrome. “When [people with Down syndrome] are forced to wear clothes from everyday stores, the clothing makes them look different. All you see is the Down syndrome,” Bowersox told The Huffington Post. “When they wear our pants and they fit and they look and feel more comfortable, they can be confident in themselves. You don’t see the Down syndrome anymore.”
In 2010, Bowersox’s daughter, Michelle, lamented to her about how difficult it was to find clothes that fit Maggie. Bowersox went online, searching for garments that were created specifically with people with Downs. She came up empty-handed. Even though Bowersox had no experience in clothes, she couldn’t get this new business idea out of her head. So she hired a young designer named Jillian Jankovsky, and together they started Downs Designs. The company now offers 18 styles of jeans for men, women, teens and children, as well as long- and short-sleeved shirts, shorts and capris. The products are available to order using the company’s special sizing method, which they’ve dubbed “Down Sizing”. They also offer a try-on service to ensure that the clothes fit perfectly, as well as custom hemming for jeans. But what really makes the company stand out is their superior service. Bowersox personally calls every customer to review their orders, and if the products aren’t perfect, they can be easily returned, no questions asked. For her, Downs Designs is more than a business. It’s a labor of love.