Dana has been using our walking sticks for a few months now and very kindly agreed to sit down with us and chat through how they've impacted her life, as well as her hopes and ambitions as a disabled influencer breaking barriers and smashing stigmas every day.
Can you tell us a little about you, where you’re from, where you live and what you do for a living?
Hey, my name is Dana and I am a disabled, witchy expat living in The Netherlands. I was born in Romania. I lived there until about 2013 when I packed up everything and moved in with my partner. In my professional life I am a digital strategist and online marketing manager. Despite always wearing black, I love numbers and colours.
As a woman living with a disability, how do you feel about the world of fashion, mobility aids and accessibility?
Needless to say, it is not ideal. But in recent years there has been significant progress made in accepting, acknowledging and representing disability in all its forms. Fashion as means of creative expression has always been fascinating to me. Unfortunately for most of my life I had to resort to ¨hospice-chic¨ types of mobility aids simply because there was no other choice. Luckily there are great companies like you guys that cater for style and expression in disability representation without losing the need for accessibility.
Have you found anything which has made a profoundly positive impact on your life in terms of living with a disability?
Acceptance. As trivial as it sounds, it wasn't until I reached the dark depths of who I thought I was that I discovered who I truly am. I am disabled, what happened, happened and moving forward in life I can only win by embracing myself fully.
Are there any barriers you have experienced which particularly stick out in your mind?
Everyone who's disabled and reading this can testify that we face far from equal treatment. I am a goal-oriented person and my disability used to be the last thing on my mind when prioritising. I used to do everything in a ¨big push¨ type of way. Needless to say, that doesn't work. Learning the importance of pacing and how to set aside time for energy conversation has been one of the harshest lessons I've learned.
If you could change anything to improve the lives of disabled people, what would it be?
Accessibility, Acceptance, Awareness.
Do you mind talking a little bit about your disability and why you choose to use Cool Crutches’ walking sticks?
Truth be told, ever since I had my prosthetic leg I dreaded the day when I had to walk with a cane. I knew very well that it would help me and make walking easier but the vanity in me could not bear to even look at them. And damn, they were ugly as hell, these sad looking sticks of plastic mould. Using mobility aids has been a journey. At first I tried to look online for models that matched my alternative style. A few years ago there were barely any cool canes around. Then I wanted more. I wanted to explore looks and match the canes to my style, shoes, outfit of the day. That was tricky. But with the walking stick models I got from Cool Crutches (I have the Skulls and Roses as well as the Skull designs), I can wear whatever I want from my closet. Because they match everything! Also with wearing different platform shoes I knew I needed a solution for the different heel sizes. As well as the comfort of an ergonomic grip. Luckily for me I found all these solutions from Cool Crutches. They are, indeed, COOL!
How can we all help to increase awareness and accessibility in today’s world?
By showcasing the many facets of disability and encouraging individuals to get out there and tell the world their stories. Help develop a positive disability identity. An intersectional approach that goes beyond the views of disability as victimhood. Disability is a life experience and one that can happen to anyone.
Have you experienced any positives which you may not have done if you weren’t living with a disability?
If it weren't for my prosthetic leg, I wouldn't have met some of the kindest, most loving and cool people around.
You are incredibly driven and passionate about everything you do but what keeps you motivated?
Thank you. My own achievements keep me motivated. It always seems impossible until it is done and that is my fuel.
A huge thank you to Dana for being such a wonderful influence on us all, to follow her journey please do check her out via her Instagram @spacewitchix
To shop Dana's Skulls & Roses or Skulls Design please click here.