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Creating Change Through Creativity & Collaboration

2 Blind Chicks With Attitude mugs sitting on a desk. 1 shows the image & slogan and the other shows the tactile braille

Creating Change Through Creativity & Collaboration

Recently, someone asked me why I created Bold Blind Beauty; my answer was twofold—devastation and rebirth.

A Life In Ruins

Blind Chicks With ATTITUDE! Braille Mug

It was June 2009 and earlier in the year, I had my third and last vitrectomy to hopefully restore the sight in my good eye. I was excited because the successful outcome of this surgery could allow me to regain my driving privileges. Unfortunately, during the recovery phase, my retina specialist found bleeding at the back of the eye. The treatment plan called for Avastin an injection in the eye to stop the bleeding.

A couple of weeks later, my brother, son, and I went to Cleveland Clinic. The drive to Cleveland Clinic Cole Eye Institute was about two hours but with renewed hope, worth the trip. After all, during my last visit two years earlier, they saved the sight in my bad eye by repairing my detached retina. The news I received during this trip wasn’t good.

When the doctors told me “we’re sorry there is no more we can do for you” I think I was in a semi-catatonic state. There was no reaction, no tears, no outburst—nothing. On the drive home, my mind could not grasp what I what the doctor’s told me.

Over the course of the next few weeks, I was as scared as I’ve ever been. I mean, I had big plans before all of this eye stuff happened. I received a promotion at work, bought a house, got married. My husband and I were refurbishing our home to sell it then build our own. Now I’m legally blind, do I even have a future?

Uncharted Territory

My problem-solving skills improved significantly during and after my new ‘legally blind status.’ There wasn’t a roadmap to follow for life after sight loss and I never felt more lonely. I had to make some tough decisions on how I was going to move forward the most significant was self-reliance. This meant a change in course by leaving my marriage, home, and beginning anew.

Even with so much support from my employer, co-workers and those closest to me, the strain of trying to find my groove got to me. Looking like I could see, yet couldn’t, was exhausting. While I may have looked like I was adapting I was struggling. Every time I used my white cane I felt like a beacon.

For a minute it seemed like my life was in ashes with the chaos that ensued. However, eventually, with the help of family and friends, I would connect with a low vision specialist and others who became my lifeline.

Newfound Strength With My Tribe

Have you ever felt like you don’t fit in? I sure have, most of my life actually. So it shouldn’t have been odd for me to be among the ‘too sighted to be blind but too blind to be sighted camp.’ Yet, my local blind community embraced me—I was home.

When I was asked to do a makeup presentation at our Pennsylvania Council of the Blind (PCB) annual convention I found my purpose. Beauty is not reserved for ONLY those who can SEE, beauty, REAL beauty knows no limits. Bold Blind Beauty—Real Beauty Transcends Barriers seeks to empower blind women while connecting sighted and non-sighted communities.

Collaborating with creatives like Jennifer Barrille, Laura Sottile, Jessica Marano, Kathy Keck and others is presenting a unique opportunity for Bold Blind Beauty. Our fashion icon Abby is stylish, she uses a white cane, and she’s changing the way we look at blindness. Working to make Abby and all of our offerings accessible is our goal.

Yesterday, I was able to upload our new one-of-a-kind embossed braille coffee mugs to our online store. The braille on each of these mugs is created by artist Kathy Keck of Loving Touch Connection

Currently, the design on the new mugs includes tactile slogans in braille on one side and Abby with text slogans on the other side of the handle. Literally, you can “Have Abigale at your fingertips to enjoy your favorite hot beverage; coffee, tea, or whatever it may be!”

Creating Change… Featured Image Description:

To the left of the mug’s handle is the phrase “Blind Chicks With ATTITUDE” in braille. The mug’s design includes fashion icon, Abby (in trio format) who are to the right of the handle. Directly under the trio is the slogan: “Blind Chicks With ATTITUDE.”

Abby is walking with her white cane in one hand and handbag in the other. The image is black with black heels and a stylish black dress made of panels resembling overlapping banana leaves. The dress panels gently curve from her nipped in waist to just above the knee. Her signature hairstyle is explosive.

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Exploring Beauty Through Touch

2 Blind Chicks With Attitude mugs sitting on a desk. 1 shows the image & slogan and the other shows the tactile braille

Exploring Beauty Through Touch

“The less we see with our eyes the more we see with our hearts.”

Blind Chicks With Attitude braille mug with Abby image to the right of the handle and braille to the left
Image 1

We really don’t know what we don’t know. To people with sight, it seems unlikely those who cannot see can appreciate beauty, yet it’s true. Being able to experience the world with and without eyesight provides a unique perspective. Since losing my sight my life is more meaningful and my view of the world has expanded.

In the early days of my sight loss, I obsessed on what I lost and my future seemed so bleak and uncertain. However, when I connected with members of the blind community my life took an unexpected detour. Instead of a desolate and dull present, I’m living a life with purpose and passion.

I continually meet some of the most fascinating people one of whom I get to introduce you to today. The first time I met Kathy Keck was at a Pennsylvania Council of the Blind state convention. Recently I spoke to Kathy to see if she would be interested in collaborating on a special project.

Kathy of Loving Touch Connection is the artist who creates the braille on Bold Blind Beauty’s coffee mugs. When I spoke with Kathy about creating braille phrases on our mugs if it’s possible she was more excited than I. What I love most about Kathy’s work is her passion to create beautiful pieces for those who cannot see. In my opinion, the tactile component is a feature that can boost any artwork to be appreciated by all.

Following is a snippet from an interview with Kathy on Mystic Access Podcast:

How did you come up with the Loving Touch Connection idea?

On many of the glassware pieces, I use a special glass paint to outline and accent the designs for more detail—this is a thicker paint which creates a raised outline around the design. One night about seven years ago, I was having a glass of wine in one of these types of glasses, and it suddenly occurred to me, that this might be something blind people could enjoy—to be able to “see” with their fingers a design of flowers, birds, etc. — it was like a message from God giving me so many ideas. To not only do artistic designs with the outlining but also to put messages in braille on the glassware. Such as coffee mugs with a message like #1 mom, have a great day etc.

I went online, to see if there were any other types of products like what I was thinking of, and there was nothing with raised-dot braille and artwork. I did a little bit of research on braille, and came up with a technique of applying words in raised-dot Braille to the glassware.”

Could you tell us more about your products in general and the Loving Touch Connection line in particular?

Loving Touch Connection line of products are raised-dot braille messages on wine glasses, martini glasses beer glasses, Salt and pepper shakers, spice jars, Glass canisters for the kitchen countertop for coffee tea sugar etc. And treat jars for the guide dogs treats. All of the pieces have raised-dot braille and the word in script (unless a customer requests otherwise). Designs are colorful and always have a raised outline around the design.” ~Kathy Keck

When Will The Braille Mugs Be Available?

The braille coffee mugs will be on the site as soon as I can get them synched with Shopping With Abby. ~Steph

Exploring Beauty Through Touch Featured Image Description:

To the left of the handle is the slogan “Blind Chicks With ATTITUDE.” in braille.

  • Image #1: The Abby trio and the slogan are to the right of the mug’s handle. Directly under the trio is the slogan: “Blind Chicks With ATTITUDE.”

Connecting With Kathy On Social Media:

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