Career

Here’s how accessibility advocate and entrepreneur Grace Stratton juggles university and business

grace stratton wearing kate sylvester by greta van der star


As part of our first annual Fashion Quarterly Power List we’re talking to some of the women featured about getting work done on-the-go.

In association with the new Samsung Galaxy Note10 – which allows busy people to get more things done – we’ve highlighted a selection of dynamic, creative Kiwi women who are shaping their communities and creating change. Co-founder of All is for All, Grace Stratton uses her platform to break down barriers in shopping, diversity and beyond. By creating an accessible online store, representing a diverse cast of models, consulting brands on how to be more inclusive in their communications to customers, and openly sharing her experience with cerebral palsy, the New Zealand Youth Award for Innovation winner and AUT law and communications student is fostering a more inclusive experience for everyone.

RELATED: Meet the 20 creative leaders making up Fashion Quarterly’s Power List for 2019

We spoke to Grace about how she uses technology and her mobile device to create tangible change for people living with disabilities and access needs, and foster dialogue within the fashion industry:


Could you describe a standard day for you?

Part of a standard day for me is spent at University, where I am in my second year of a bachelor’s in communications and law. I then spend most of my day in communications with Ange [Bevan], my business partner about the work All is for All has on the go. I’m usually working on a prop or some form of work, if not that I’ll probably be listening or reading something that’ll help me make my work better.

How often do you use your mobile device and what do you use it for?

I use it every day, to facilitate conversations, take notes – it’s the easiest way for me to connect with the world around me, and the most efficient device to use to keep productive while on my morning and afternoon commute.

How does technology, specifically your mobile device, help you navigate life and your daily hustle?

For me specifically, I actually have an app on my phone that connects to my wheelchair, and allows it to work via a Bluetooth motor, so in a very real way technology on my mobile device helps me navigate space. I think it is also all about agency for me, a lot of the apps I have on my phone are things that help me to achieve, get from place to place (because I don’t drive) and function at my best – even simple apps, like Uber Assist for drivers who know about accessibility, allow me to be out in the world; I wouldn’t have that without my mobile device. Hustle wise, I live for google calendar.

grace stratton and her samsung galaxy note 10


Does technology help facilitate the work that you do, if so how?

Yes most definitely, it is a mechanism which allows me to stay connected and to make new connections, and our entire movement or platform for All is for All is online, so my mobile device enables consistent access to that platform.

As far as fostering education, dialogue and visibility around access needs within the fashion industry, how does technology support this?

It unifies us, as a movement and as a community. We are also able to use technology to improve our service to the accessibility community. We have recently collaborated with Uneeq, a company who creates conversational AI, to develop a “digital human” who reads garment descriptions from five of our designers, so in the broad sense technology is used to support the experience of our users at allisforall.com. I’d say technology also allows the All is for All movement to grow and spread faster, it gives it some power – which again is because we’re able to unify people across the globe toward a common goal for representation.

grace statton wearing kate sylvester, photographed by greta van der star


Do you use technology and your mobile device to find fresh talent, new ideas and possible collaborators?

Yes! Two of our models, Sophia Malthus and Rebecca Dubber, were sourced through Instagram on my mobile device. It’s obviously a little harder for me to street cast, because I am usually focused on watching out in front of me and navigating space rather than looking at people, so technology helps us find talent. I also use it to seek out new ideas, in the sense that I utilise Instagram to look at images and think about new ways we might create content for All is for All. Close(ish) to home I look at people like Chloe Hill – who is a genius – and globally I look to people like Molly Burke, Whitney Wolfe Herd, to innovate my ideas in the fashion, entrepreneurship and technology spaces.

Have technology, mobile devices and the digital world helped open up a broader sphere of conversation and action for you?

Oh my gosh, it has helped so much! At allisforall.com we utilise cultural relevance and fashion to tell fresh new stories about life with disabilities, and to challenge the old school narratives surrounding access needs which still are prevalent and are flawed. Technology means this fresh new story can reach more people and pierce into more networks, driving more action. It allows us to challenge the flawed narratives on a much larger scale. Mobile device wise, people are able to have our content in their pockets – easy to access, any time – and by being right there we are able to keep a conversation consistent, and give it more impact.

grace stratton's samsung galaxy note 10


How does All is for All utilise technology to market itself and communicate and engage with its community?

Our digital human – who we designed collaboratively with All is for All [and Uneeq] – is one way we use technology to communicate and engage with our community. The digital human is designed to make it easier for people to understand what they’re buying and have a human connection in a way they might miss out on when online shopping – because for lots of people who live with disabilities, online shopping is easier than navigating a store, but can mean a lot of those human experiences are missing. The digital human provides our community with a new way to engage. We also utilise technology to communicate with our community, in the sense that we have our website as accessible as is possible on our start-up budget, including through the means of in-depth alt text. The accessibility enables as many people as possible to engage with our content and allisforall.com.

Do you think technology and the evolution of mobile devices have changed the fashion industry (particularly for those with access needs)?

Yes, I think it has made it so fashion is more accessible in an experiential sense – people holding their phones and videoing our models, like mobility aid users Rebecca Dubber and Hannah Moore, as they came down the New Zealand Fashion Week runway – that allows other young people with access needs to see that, and know it is possible for them too. Without a mobile device, people wouldn’t be able to see that, or the shows.

Are you a new Samsung user?

No, I have the Samsung Galaxy Camera and a small tablet, that I use for my Law School readings so I don’t have to print them out!

What have you found using the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 like?

I’ve been impressed with the amount of accessibility features, and have found it really easy to navigate – and been really pleased with the quality of the camera, I’m excited to use it for upcoming All is for All imagery.

What are your favourite features?

I think the S-Pen, it has made it a lot easier for me to navigate the phone, and given me a new way to take notes.

What apps or features do you use to create digital content for your marketing strategy, and how does the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 make this easier or better?

I’ve been using the Google Assistant to dictate notes for our strategy recently; I find it hard to type out notes, at speed. I’ve found the Google Assistant to be accurate and make me more efficient. We don’t edit our photos on any apps, but we do use Later to plan out our feed. I’ve enjoyed using the S-Pen, in my navigation of this app, it just makes it easier for me to manipulate. Also, we’ve been making a bigger effort to include our Instagram alt-text. The accessibility features of the Samsung, have served as a good reminder to do the alt-text with as much depth as we do on our website, I’ve also installed a reminder to do the alt-text; so I am reminded by the Galaxy each time I post.


Photos: Supplied. Grace Stratton wears Kate Sylvester, shot by Greta van der Star.

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