Getting accepted to a prestigious college is difficult for many aspiring students. For students with Down syndrome, their road to college can unfortunately be even more difficult.
Isabella Springmuhl, a now 20-year-old girl from Guatemala, had her heart set, despite having Down syndrome, to achieve her life-long dream of becoming a fashion designer. But her dream seemed to halt when she was rejected from two fashion universities in Guatemala.
With the fashion industry being notorious for eccentric styles created by highly-privileged designers who appear to be “better than the rest,” the universities said she would not be able to cope because of her condition. Despite the prejudiced stab, the rejection only made Isabella work even harder to reach her dream.
Isabella’s mom enrolled her in a sewing academy, and her creativity took an even brighter turn. She was tasked to design outfits for small Guatemalan dolls, but this goal-driven girl had other plans.
“She created life-sized dolls and dressed them in colorful, embroidered jackets and ponchos,” the girls mom, Isabel Tejada, said. Eventually, Isabella took an even greater leap towards her dream and began to design clothing for people.
Her fashion took after true Guatemalan culture with illustrious designs and colorful fabrics that are specifically chosen from suppliers in Antigua. “Using the Mayan textiles in my designs I honor all these women that for ages and ages have been waving Guatemala’s history in clothing and textiles” Isabella said.
Her colorful clothing quickly drew attention and the young fashion designer got the opportunity of a lifetime. At the age of 19, she was invited to be a part of London’s Fashion week and was the first fashion designer with Down syndrome to attend the prestigious event.
Isabella’s touching determination and eye-catching designs caught even more attention. She was included in BBC’s list of top 100 inspirational women of 2016 and has received invites to appear in Miami, Chicago, Mexico, Rome, and possibly even Paris.
But her ultimate goal stems even further than appearing at notable fashion runways; her mission is to create clothing for other people with Down syndrome. “We have a different body constitution.”
“My mother always had to fix the clothes she bought for me. So I decided to design clothes that fit people with Down’s syndrome…” she said.
Isabella created her own fashion line called Down to Xjabelle, after her notable designer grandmother’s line Xjabelle. The line features an array of colorful Guatemalan patterns in a trendy fashion.
“I want people to know my designs and to know that people with Down’s syndrome can do what they set out to do,” she said. “I want to inspire people, I want them to look around and see me… to look through into my heart… a girl with Down Syndrome who has no fear and is able to reach her goal.”
Even though she was heartlessly rejected and fought discrimination, Isabella defied the odds and pressed on to achieve her goal. And even in her fame, she hopes to leave a legacy inspiring others to reach their dreams too.