After her son Eli was born with Downs Syndrome, Michelle was looking forward to meeting other moms who have kids with special needs. She decided to create a line of tee shirts that were great conversation starters to raise awareness. Her very first design was the Holland Tour Guide tee because when she read the Welcome to Holland story, a short story/poem about what it's like having a child with special needs, it brought this mama of four great comfort and inspiration.
Get to know our friend Michelle...
5 words that describe your "job": Joy, awareness, advocacy, inclusion.
Where do you live: Orange, CA
Eli's age: 3
What’s the one thing you wish people knew about Eli: Eli is just like any other kid - he loves to play, he gets sad sometimes and he has the best laugh.
How does Eli inspire you: Eli inspires me everyday to be a better person, to be kinder and to stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. He reminds me of what’s truly important in life.
What is one activity your whole family loves to do together + why: We love to go on road trips together. We love exploring new and interesting places.
How do you survive a tough day of parenting: My go-to unwinding is designing more tees- I love to work on the computer and the only chance I get to be creative is after the kids are in bed.
"Eli has truly enhanced my life. He has given me a love for people with special needs, he’s taught me so much about patience and endurance. He has made me a better person and for that I am so grateful."
What is the one thing in your play space Eli can't live without: He loves his Tnee’s Tpee. It’s a fun place to hideout and play hide n go seek and it’s super cute too.
What's the one thing you can't leave home without when you are out with Eli? His Munchkin Snack Catcher is something we can’t leave home without. It’s perfect for him to be able to confidently self feed and I don’t need to worry about his snacks spilling.
Eli's favorite toy and comfort item at the moment? He has two stuffed animals that he can’t live without. He wakes up every morning and the first thing out of his mouth is “froglion” asking for them. They go everywhere with him.
Eli's favorite educational app? Bugs and Buttons
Clothing item Eli would wear every single day if he could + why? He pretty much only owns Littlest Warrior- he doesn’t have much choice haha!
3 Moms you follow on social media that inspire you and why?
Heather Avis of @macymakesmyday because she does an amazing job of advocating for her children and makes it all look like a party.
Lisa Either of @eicherumba because she is my #familygoals
Rachel Hollis of @msrachelhollisbecause she has the prettiest pictures and makes having a family look so fashionable and fun and she gives great recipes.
What is the last thing you purchased for yourself that made you really happy? I normally only wear ankle boots with a heel or heels, but I recently broke my pelvis. I’m learning to embrace my new normal and I know that flats will be in my future for a while. I bought a pair of flats on ASOS today that I’m really excited about.
What advice would you give to a (new) special needs mom? I would tell them that there can be so much beauty in hardship, that going through all the surgeries and facing the unknown would give me a strength I didn’t know I had. Eli has truly enhanced my life. He has given me a love for people with special needs, he’s taught me so much about patience and endurance. He has made me a better person and for that I am so grateful.
What quote do you live by? Be Kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.