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Creatives in the spotlight - Whitney Mitchell

December 7, 2015

Creatives in the spotlight

It's been a while since I wrote the last Creatives in the Spotlight post, but today I am back with an incredible inspiring person for this series. I had the privilege to interview one of my own clients that has an important story to share with us all. Whitney Mitchell is a 23 year old girl from Dallas, Texas, who went through a huge ordeal a couple of years ago and in this episode she is sharing how she is dealing with this enormous challenge in an inspiring and creative way. So let's meet her!

Who is Whitney Mitchell, can you tell us a little more about yourself?

My name is Whitney Mitchell, I'm 23 years old and I'm from Dallas, Texas (USA). I'm currently pursuing a career in costume and fashion design and I hope to one day have my own clothing line and be a costume designer for film and television!

Creatives in the spotlight

You are facing a huge challenge, please tell us your story!

In November 2010, when I was 18 years old I had just graduated high school and then started attending college to study dancing and acting. One day I fell ill and developed flu-like symptoms that resulted in Sepsis (an infection of the blood). I was put on life support and given a 12% chance of survival. I pulled through, but unfortunately it damaged my arms and legs resulting in having all four of my limbs amputated in order to save my life. After months of being in the hospital, I went to rehab to relearn the things I had taken for granted, like brushing my teeth, dressing myself, eating, going to the restroom, normally things that you don’t think twice about. I had to figure out how to live my life again but in a whole new way.

After facing this huge challenge how did you feel?

Honestly, I felt overwhelmed and angry. Everything had happened so suddenly that everything felt surreal. I thought about so many things like, how was I going to live my life? What could I actually do? Why is this happening to me? I had so many feelings that I didn't know how to process anything. I just thought to myself I need to keep pushing through this, their has been a lot of crying and screaming and anger but I feel that its natural and that you shouldn't keep things bottled up. It's okay to be angry, it's okay to scream and all those things. I still do sometimes. There is no one right way to cope with difficult challenges in your life.

Creatives in the spotlight

Despite your ordeal, you have an interest in fashion and design. When did this start?

When I was teenager I used to draw these little doodles that I got inspiration from out of different magazines I bought. I used to do it all the time. I used to take my stockings and make them into fishnet gloves and I would rip holes in my jeans since I couldn't always buy things that looked distressed. But my interest in fashion really peaked when I was introduced to sewing and I also noticed how I had to alter a lot of my clothing to fit my arms and legs, because they weren't long enough to fit into what I was wearing. It's really hard to describe the kind of fashion I like. I pretty much like every decade of fashion but I'm really liking the vintage 50's style and 60's mod/schoolgirl style. I'm all over the place, you should see my pinterest board!

When did the idea settle in to become a designer despite the big challenge you are facing?

When I began sewing and realizing I was actually good at it and I had a passion for it and I knew this was something that I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Also finding clothing when you are disabled is quite annoying sometimes and I was thinking how there should be a market towards people like me or anyone who has a disability to be able to find clothes that are fashionable and easy to maneuver. Clothes that are customized to fit any person. 

On a practical level, how do you manage to sew? Do you use special tools or equipment?

Well, the only part I use as far as special equipment is a device to put the thread through the needle in the sewing machine. I actually don't use any exact special tools for the sewing part, but for the foot pedal I use my right arm to press on it and I use my left arm to guide the fabric. I pretty much do everything else myself for the most part, but I have help from my sewing teacher. 

Creatives in the spotlight

What are your dreams for the future both in business and in personal life?

I'm currently relearning to walk in my prosthetic legs and I would really love to be able to walk fully and regain some of my independence again. I also really hope to have my own fashion line and actually see it on the runway. Also I would love to be in costume design in film and television.

Do you have any tips for people that face any kind of challenge but still have a business dream?

I say you should go for it! I don't think anything should stop you, screw what everybody else says or what they are doing. If they're not doing anything that helps you or benefits you, you don't need them! No matter how impossible things may seem, you can always find a way to accomplish what you really want for yourself, even if it's not in the most conventional way or the way you pictured yourself doing it. 

Wow, I don't know about you, but this story blew my mind! I did some sewing myself a couple of years ago, with two healthy arms and two healthy legs, but it is precision work, I can tell you that. It's amazing to see how Whitney has picked up her life after such a devastating event and how she is not letting it interfere with her plans to become a fashion designer with her own clothing line.

I guess all of us have our moments when we question or business, creativity or life in general. But hopefully Whitney's inspiring story can help us to overcome these moments and believe in the beautiful things we can all accomplish!

If you want to get to know Whitney a little better and follow along with her journey you can find her here:

Creatives in the spotlight