ABOUT 12 years ago Nikki Hind’s life changed in two quite different ways – she became a mother but also suffered a stroke that left her legally blind.
“I learned to live with it while I was learning to be a mum so it kind of all blends into that entire experience,” she said. “It was not my primary focus, you just get on with being a mum.”
Ms Hind found it difficult to continue working in public relations and event management and a decade passed before she started exploring a field she had always loved, fashion design.
“I realised social justice to me is just as big a driver and I wanted to link it, to communicate something I feel passionate about,” she said.
And so Blind Justice came into being.
“The concept is inspirational athleisure wear created by those who conquer challenges for those who are ready for one,” the Albury founder said.
Under Ms Hind’s business model, she designs the clothes and outsources their creation.
“Wherever that’s possible it will be people who have survived a refugee experience,” she said.
Blind Justice has launched two competitions to find artwork and meaningful quotes that will feature on the label’s first collection, which Ms Hinds hopes will be released later this year. Competition entries close on October 7.
Ms Hind has conducted extensive community engagement, research and development and appreciated the support of organisations such as Vision Australia, Global Sisters and the Murray Valley Refugee Sanctuary Group.
Through the latter, she made connections with people from a refugee background who could sew.
“They love using the old treadle machines because that’s how they learned to sew in the refugee camps because there’s no electricity,” Ms Hind said.
“They say it’s stronger, faster, easier and they can make all sorts of things.”
The Lions Club of Albury has since assisted by buying a treadle sewing machine for the project. Bhutanese refugee Tika Ram Bhattarai, who designed the Blind Justice logo while a year 12 student last year, is the enterprise’s first artist.
Ms Hind’s vision allows her to see details, but affects her depth perception, leaving her unable to drive, and she can only use a computer for short periods of time.
“Part of me, if I thought too hard about it, thought, ‘Who do I think I am? I can’t do this’,” she said.
She thanked all the groups and individuals who had helped her during a period of both steep learning and joy.
“It was so validating and encouraging, it was so lovely,” she said.