How Nikki Hind became Australia’s first blind fashion designer

09 November 2018

Nikki Hind in a black Blind Grit jumpsuit

With passion, perseverance and blind grit, fashion designer Nikki Hind believes you can achieve anything. That’s exactly what she’s done to become Australia first legally blind fashion designer, recently presenting her first collection at Melbourne Fashion Week.

During her first pregnancy around 14 years ago Nikki suffered a stroke and lost 50% of the field of vision in both of her eyes. Having been legally blind in her left eye since birth, the stroke left Nikki permanently legally blind.

 

Fashion design reconnected me to glimpses of the best parts of myself – feelings of capability, purpose, fun, excitement, ambition, optimism.

 

“Before my pregnancy I had been working in public relations and event management and it was a huge shock to the system to lose my sight while also learning to be a mum,” Nikki said.

“My focus was on my little one and it wasn’t until about 10 years later when I had the chance to think about how my vision loss might affect my employment opportunities.”

Unfortunately, a series of traumatic events left Nikki struggling financially and feeling isolated and anxious but she decided it was time to redefine herself and find meaning in what she was doing.

“I had no intention to stay crushed so I decided to reach for a dream, something that was inspirational and creative for me to focus on.

“Fashion design had always been my happy, creative place. As a young teenager, I used to lie on the floor and watch awards shows, with a sketch pad and pencil, dreaming up my own award winning designs.

“However, I didn’t think fashion design was a practical career path, so I never pursued it but a few years ago I decided it was a great time to get back to my passion.”

Nikki enrolled in a TAFE course in fashion design to learn the skills she needed to bring her designs to life.

After creating her first collection, including producing photography and marketing materials, Nikki felt she had finally broken through the crushing, suffocating oppression of post-traumatic stress disorder to reach something really powerful: her dreams.

“Fashion design reconnected me to glimpses of the best parts of myself – feelings of capability, purpose, fun, excitement, ambition, optimism. I decided if I was going to do this, I wanted to bring as many others along with me as I could; others in need of reconnecting with their dreams and the idea of Blind Grit was born.”

Blind Grit is inspirational athleisure wear created by those who conquer challenges, for those who are ready for one.

“It celebrates the qualities required to live with disability and survive trauma. It is a celebration of those super humans who have been forced to survive outside a comfort zone that most of us take for granted.

What makes Blind Grit truly special is that every garment is created by people who are experts in conquering challenges.

“Everyone who works on Blind Grit from photographers, graphic designers through to makeup artists will be people who live with disability or survived trauma. I want to change the perception and rebrand those who live with disability and survive trauma.”

You can find out more about Nikki and Blind Grit here.

Looking for fashion advice for yourself? Vision Australia's own Vildana has practical tips on how to dress with flare and style for people with vision loss here.