The brand Alivia is the brainchild of fashion designer Jovana Mullins. All of the designs on the clothing are made by Asian American designers with special needs.
"Alivia stands for awareness, love, inclusion, voice, individuality and acceptance,“ Mullins, the co-founder of Alivia, explained.
She volunteers and mentors designers at the Center for All Abilities' art therapy program.
"After volunteering with the Center for All Abilities, as a mentor I saw this talent — I was blown away by the artwork that was being created by these individuals. It was so meaningful and powerful,” she said.
The center, located in Chinatown, caters to Asian American immigrants and Asian Americans with disabilities. Phoebe Ho, its executive director, said the opportunities Alivia provides are more important than ever right now due to the recent rise in anti-Asian hate crimes.
"They can use their drawing in any way they can to express themselves and it is a very powerful way to make connections with people, regardless of their ethnicity," Ho said.
Mullins launched Alivia at the beginning of the pandemic. A study from the Office of the State Comptroller found that fewer than half of working age disabled adults in New York are in the workforce. Pre-pandemic, their unemployment rate was 12.2%, more than triple the overall city rate of 4%.
"People with disabilities have been left out of the workforce and overlooked, especially in fashion," Mullins said.
Her line also helps the Center for All Abilities, 10% of each purchase goes to the organization, helping the designers continue to grow.
"When you do purchase something from us you get the artwork on side and then you get an artist biography so you get to learn about Yuchen, you get to meet him," Mullins said as she displayed some garments made designer Yuchen.
Each garment from Alivia has a tag with a barcode. When you scan that bar code you get directed to the original designs from the artist and can learn more about them.
Mullins said this is just the beginning.
"As we grow, we hope to include more inclusive employment opportunities, employing people of all abilities in every aspect," Mullins said.