One of the most interesting things about being a blogger is the ability to reach and be reached by a ton of different people. As part of the Empowered series, meet Stephanae McCoy, owner/operator of Abigail Style, who wishes to use fun, everyday products to show, visually, that blindness does not mean a lack of confidence and/or fashion sense.
Stephanae (Steph) McCoy is a retired 55 year old mother to three grown sons and a ridiculously cute 3 year old grandson whom she’s “just ga-ga over”. According to the Meyers Briggs Personality Assessment she’s a true INTJ who is an introverted, analytical, somewhat judgmental and intensely focused person who follows the rules. If you ask her sons, she says they would probably say she’s a buzz-kill but with a great sense of humor, who loves playing practical jokes on people she’s close to and seeking change especially when someone is being treated unjustly.
Steph’s vision impairment was diagnosed in 2005 after regular vision checkups, which meant that some conditions such as glaucoma were caught early but needed operation. Seven years ago she had “The talk” with a doctor at the Cleveland Clinic, who advised her that even though she did all the “right things”, due to surgeries and extreme myopia, her vision loss was irreparable.
About Abigail Style
Abigail Style (named after the white cane icon Abigail) is an online apparel and novelties boutique whose message is designed to “Improve humanity by changing the way blindness is perceived. All Abigail Style products carry her signature stylish image and fun slogans. Currently the products offered are women’s, men’s and children’s t-shirts, women’s tanks, coffee mugs, tote bags and iPhone 6/6s cases. Artist Jennifer Barrile designed the logo, and Steph created the images to be printed on the products.
Abigail Style has been open for business for a very short time, but in the future the hope is to hire a marketing director, social media strategist, and a stylist, and increase the product line to include posters, decorative pillows, and baseball caps.
Why Abigail, and What got Her Started?
There are so many stylish women who are blind or have sight loss that Steph felt it was time for a fashionable icon to represent them. Abigail is a beautiful image that evokes power, movement, independence, chicness, confidence and success, a woman on the move stepping forward with purpose.
After Abigail was created Steph reached out to her online community to request their input on a name for her. Abigail was chosen as a play on the word “abilities,” and Nightingale (the small bird that’s known for its beautiful song) – since it looks like she is wearing a divine feather dress.”
Steph wants to see how far she can take Abigail as she believes the sky’s the limit. Blindness or sight loss has always been one of those taboo topics and it’s time to change this. Is it challenging for people who have previously seen to learn how to adapt to sight loss? Yes it is, but a meaningful life shouldn’t be dependent upon having eye sight and she hopes to see the negative mindset on blindness and sight loss diminish.
Once, an eye doctor told Steph that it would be a tragedy for her to learn how to use the white cane when in fact she believes the real tragedy is the shame many people feel when losing their eyesight. Having a visual image that evokes beauty, confidence and purpose is a way to change the stigma surrounding blindness and/or vision loss.
I want to thank Stephanae for being so open with me, and for taking the time to answer my nosy questions!
If you know someone with a disability who runs their own organization or business, please leave me a comment or find me on Twitter; I would love to feature them here. The word “inspiration” is so often used to describe us, but empowerment is what we do for ourselves.