What is your role and what does it involve?
I work as sample machinist in the pattern room, supporting the development of our new womenswear collections. My role requires making first toiles and samples and provide feedback and technical suggestions as we go along.
Why Reiss? What do you enjoy about the company?
While I was involved in hearing loss advocacy I came across Reiss while freelancing with an agency. I liked the Pattern Room team, the atmosphere and enjoyed the challenges. When a permanent position was offered, I weighted up all pross and cons, one of them was freedom to take time off and other was stability of permanent employment and decided to sign up. My second-year anniversary was in June this year.
From my personal perspective, I found management was supportive towards my advocacy work as much as our schedules allowed and I am grateful for that. The team is led on the principles of mutual respect and being inclusive. I also found the HR team open and engaging with employees. Despite going through the challenging times of a global pandemic, Reiss embarked on investing in the employee’s personal development and EDI review, this was the moment when I pressed further to make sure Reiss looks at the company disability inclusion policies.
What is your background and how did you get to where you are today?
I am originally from Poland and arrived in 1991 to take a scholarship at the English language school in Greenwich, it awarded to me for my hard of hearing youth advocacy work in Poland. I have qualified and worked in Poland as the garment technologist and pattern cutter. I knew I wanted to make clothes since I was 12! While studying at fashion college in Lodz, it was my ambition to work with well-known designers and I took the scholarship opportunity never knowing where it may lead me. I achieved my dream, working with many big names in London including Tomasz Starzewski, Ben de Lisi and Julien McDonald to name a few.
What I do now, alongside my fashion career, relates to losing my hearing completely 12 years ago and receiving a cochlear implant which helped me to hear again, albeit in a different way. Having experienced discrimination, stereotyping, and lack of accessibility I have turned my frustrations towards making positive changes. I qualified as a mentor and adults education tutor, returned to advocacy work which led me to become chair of NADP (National Association of Deafened People) and vice president of EFHOH (European Federation of Hard of Hearing People). I am no stranger to speaking up and ensuring people with hearing loss and their needs are at the heart of policy developments and its implementation process at all levels; national, European and global. Along the way, I have met amazing people who have inspired me and helped with my personal development. I enjoy public speaking and writing blogs to raise awareness.
If somebody told me in 2009 that I will be authoring global accessibility standards I would have never believed them! Currently I advise ITU (International Telecommunication Union) and WHO (World Health Organisation) the UN specialised agencies with the aim to increase inclusion and accessibility for deaf and hard of hearing people during pandemic. Now I have two passions; fashion and disability inclusion!