Sally Willbanks, Founder of ND Renegade, a contemporary apparel brand that shines a light on neurodiversity. She is an award-winning Australian artist who made a career change when she decided to start this clothing brand, with the intention of instilling pride in the neurodivergent population, including her two children. Sally is the creator of all of ND Renegade's designs. Sally is also a neurodiversity advocate and speaker, presenting at schools in NSW with to educate faculty in ways to help neurodivergent students. Today we learn her story. This is awesome- enjoy!
In this episode Peter and Sally Willbanks discuss:
1:47 - Intro and welcome Sally!
2:42 - So what prompted the start of your fashion brand ND Renegade?
3:42 - The concept of starting a company is not foreign to those of us with ADHD. Did this seem natural and usual to you and your children?
5:08 - These are so smart and AWESOME!!! Ref: Designs at https://www.ndrenegade.com
5:37 - What have your reactions been to the messaging?
7:26 - When and with what were your children diagnosed?
8:00 - What are the conversations you are having with your young children about it all?
8:56 - How are you children involved in the business?
9:92 - What makes an item “sensory friendly” -what goes into making those?
10:15 - Pardon my American-ness, what is “Takiwatanga” and what does it mean?
11:28 - How old is the company now?
11:45 - What do you want people to know about the reasons you’ve done this and what are your goals?
13:25 - Thank you Sally Willbanks! Guys, as always, we are here for you and we love the responses and the notes that we get from you; so please continue to do that! Tell us who you want to hear on the podcast, anything at all; we’d love to know. Leave us a review on any of the places you get your podcasts, and if you ever need our help I'm www.petershankman.com and you can reach out anytime via firstname.lastname@example.org or @petershankman on all of the socials. You can also find us at @FasterNormal on all of the socials. It really helps when you drop us a review on iTunes and of course, subscribe to the podcast if you haven’t already! As you know, the more reviews we get, the more people we can reach. Help us to show the world that ADHD is a gift, not a curse!
14:00 - Faster Than Normal Podcast info & credits
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What's up guys, Peter Shankman at Faster Than Normal. We’ve got an extra special 10 minute episode this morning with Sally Willbanks. So most people, when they have ADHD this, you know, at ADHD and. Maybe I'll I'll I'll get some help, but I'll figure out what I'm doing. I'll I'll adjust some things. No. Sally decides to start a renegade contemporary apparel company called ND Renegade because that's what people with ADHD do. So we write books, we start clothing companies, we started other companies it's just who we are. So she's the founder. She's an award winning Australian artist who made a career change, which she decided to start this clothing brand with the intention of instilling pride into the neurodivergent population, including her two children. So there's the creator of all of the ND renegades designs. She's a neurodiversity new university advocate and speaker. She presents at schools in New South Wales with the ability and the desire to educate faculty in ways to help neuro diversion students. I love everything about that. Sally, welcome to Faster Than Normal.
Thank you very much. Thank you for having me.
So you decided out of the blue, I mean, it wasn't as much out of the blue, but what made you make that change? You said, okay. I have two children who are neurodivergent; I'm just going to start a fashion.
Yeah. Um, well, I'm a, I'm an artist, I'm a painter and that requires long, long hours in the studio And, uh, I was just not spending too much time with my family and we homeschool and I wanted to show the kids how to run a business, but I needed them to be more involved. So. Um, I put down my brushes cause that's, it's really solitary. It didn't involve them very much. Um, I had the thought of doing a clothing brand that just for neurodivergent people, just to bring pride to themselves And once I had the idea, I couldn't let it go. So I literally wrapped up my show, uh, within a couple of weeks and designed a website, uh, designed the logo, got the name and, uh, we'd sold a first item within a month of me having the idea.
I love it. And, you know, the concept of, um, uh, sort of starting a company, or doing something like that it's not that foreign to people with ADHD because that's what sort of we do. We sit there and we say, okay, I have this idea. And 30 minutes later, you know, we've sketched it out and we have a website up. All right. We don't, we don't do focus groups. We don't do a panel testing. We just sort of go for it. So did you find that it was sort of the same thing? Like, okay, we're just going to go for this and, and, you know, you're teaching your kids sort of, sort of, this is how we do things and it's a faster sort of lifestyle as it were.
Yeah. You know, basically if I, if I'd known how big it was going to get. And I, I, I wouldn't have done it like a, like if I'd seen the big picture, I don't know how I would've gotten there, but just taking one step at a time is what made it work. So I just thought, okay, I've got to get a logo, got to get a name, got to get a website, got to start designing. And it just kind of grew. So if I had, if I had seen what it was going to be and all the steps that took, I D I think I would have backed out to be honest. Um, so it was really about. Not thinking too far in advance and breaking it down into small doable steps. And, um, yeah, it just, it just clicked. It just worked. There was nothing else out there with this idea. There's other, there are other clothing lines out there that do, neurodiversity stuff, but it's more like to let people know that there, their kids are autistic but it's nothing about pride. So I wanted to change that.
I love what I'm seeing here on the spectrum and off the hook. Um, these are, these are, these are amazing. I love it. The nerd, my favorite is a neurodiversity, uh, shirt with like 15 different, uh, different types of, um, uh, chords, accessory chords, the Aux cord, the USB cord, the,\, this is so smart. I mean, this stuff is, I think that what I, what I like about this is the premise that, that. You know, we're in a time right now where, you know, 50 years ago, obviously no one talked to well forger about neurodivergency, we didn’t talk about anything having to do with mental health. Mental health was a secret. We didn't share it. We didn't talk about it. If you remember, I'm always affected that, that scene in madman where, um, where Don sends Betty to a psychiatrist and, you know, she. The psychiatrist sends him the bills and the updates and the status reports. And doesn't share it with her know, even though she's the one in treatment. It doesn't share it with her. And that's changed the point where today we actually, you know, we, we represent this as pride. I mean, I have my t-shirts, I have countless ADHD t-shirts and, and, and I wear a wristband that says faster than normal and, and all of these things. And, you know, so you're in a, sort of a good place at the right time. Right. Um, we're trying to change that conversation from one of shame to one of pride. And what has been sort of the reaction that, that you've received have, have you had, I'm assuming it's mostly positive. Have there been any negative reactions? Have people told you this is something we shouldn't talk about or how, how, what what's talk about that?
Um, it's actually been really positive reaction. There were a few designs that I had, I've had a few issues with, um, as far as like, like an asby design, um, we've been asked to take that down, but then I got. So many people are asking me to keep it up. So I've got a disclaimer on the website and, um, you know, an educate yourself page as to why some people don't like the term Asperger's. Um, but other than that, it has been overwhelmingly fantastic. I get emails from people thanking me. I get emails from people telling me that they're using their clothing to come out to their family as neurodivergent. Um, it's just been, it's been overwhelmingly positive and it keeps me going. So, I mean, pretty much every other day I'd have something in my inbox. Saying, you know, thank you so much for doing what you're doing. Which is great.
This really is good stuff. And, and I think that, that, so, so when your children were diagnosed with, it goes to the ADHD or?
Ok, so my son was diagnosed first as autistic, and then my daughter was diagnosed as ADHD, and then she was diagnosed as autistic and my son has since been diagnosed with ADHD. Um, so it's just that. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, there’s,??you know what I mean?
How are old are they?
My son is eight and my daughter is 10. Tell us about what you tell them. Tell us about how, I mean, obviously they, they, they understand that there are benefits to this as well. Um, what are the conversations you're having with them? Are they having, you know, do they, they, they ever look at it as, as a, as a, as a curse, as opposed to a gift or how.
Right. Um, my son does, sometimes, he is a tough cookie. He's got anxiety disorder as well. So he gets quite angry a lot and he feels shame, uh, with his anger, but he still tells me he loves his brain because he wouldn't get to do the things that he can do. Like he can spell any word, he's been reading fluently since he was three, he can type like you would not believe on a computer. Um, and my daughter is nothing but positive. She is so stoked to be neurodivergent. She loves being Autistic. She loves being ADHD, and I just hope it stays that way. You know, she seems invincible at the moment and I know she'll have some setbacks, but I just, I love that she's so positive and she's becoming a great role model for other kids in the community as well.
Um, How are your children involved in the business?
Sure. They both have a couple of designs, believe it or not, on the store. Yeah, it is. I'm really thrilled with it actually. Uh, so I just took the drawings and turned them into t-shirts and they sell really well, which is great. And they actually partake in the giveaway videos that we do. And my son doesn't love being interviewed, so he hasn't yet, but my daughter and I do interviews with her about the different diagnoses and we do Instagram Live’s and things like that. So she's really quite involved in the advocating side of things on Instagram.
Um, I'm looking on the website. I see sensory friendly hoodies. Talk about what makes an item sensory friendly?
Uh, basically the tag fray and as soft as we could find. So, um, the tag is the big issue. You know, people, people with ADHD and autism have sensory issues and particularly that scratch irritating tag. And even if you cut the tag off, you still have that little nub of, you know, the seem where the tag is. So we've made sure that our clothes, um, uh, tag fray and a soft and comfortable as we could find. So we just did a lot of testing on products and found the best one. So I have a whole slew of my own clothes because they're the most comfortable ones that I own. So I'm always walking around with brand and branded clothing on.
I can tell there's definitely the artist's flare in here because the website is just stunningly beautiful. It's just so, so simple. And so, so clearly designed, um, tell me, uh, you know, this is, I think the American in me, what is “Takiwatanga” and what does it mean?
Uh, that is one that we've actually come under a bit of fire with lately. That is, um, it's the Maori word for Autism and it means “in his home, my own space and time”, and it was coined by a man called a PI who basically wrote the, the mental health, like medical dictionary for the Maori language. And, um, I'm actually, I've got Maori ancestry, so my great-grandparents were Maori. Um, And I just think it's a really, really beautiful word. And I, I think that it is a way of looking at Autism that needs to be shared. So I've got that on a t-shirt so that people ask, what does it mean? Um, because the definition is just amazing. I mean, how, how, um, perfect. As it, in, in his, her my own space and time, it kind of encapsulates everything may, that autism is.
Oh, it really does. I love that. Oh, it obviously works. Cause I asked, you know, these are, these are really, really beautiful there. The website is ND renegade.com. [[https://www.ndrenegade.com ]]And how old is the company now?
It is, it started in January of last year. So what's that about? 20 18, 20 months old, something like that.
Phenomenal. It's great to see. It's great to see that that taking sort of your, your talent and your putting it to such a use like this. Um, what do you want people to know about the reasons you've done this and what do you want people to know about, you know, what you're goals are?
Yeah, well, our goals are to spread neurodiversity pride into every part of the world. So we want people who have these differences to stand tall and know that that people are proud of them and that they don't need to hide because the more these people kind of hide and feel shame and mask their differences, they're going to, they're going to just disappear. Their lives are going to be, you know, spend at home, not, not being in society, not making the changes that they can make because they've got amazing brains. They have fantastic ideas that neurotypical people don't have. Um, the innovation that they can, that they can create in the workspace is incredible. And we need these brains. And if we don't show them that they, that they should feel pride and that they are loved and respected, they won’t be using those incredible brains to help our planet. So we just want them to, we want me to know that they should stand tall. Differences are awesome.
I love it. Talking to [Sally] Willbanks NDRenegade is the website.[https://www.ndrenegade.com] I love it. I just signed up for your Instagram. I'm on the whole thing. Um, yes, we'll definitely have you back. Definitely keep in touch. And when you do new, new, um, items, you have dropped your drop notifications and you let people know and everything?
Yup. Yup. I do. I usually, uh, run a few test, uh, stories on Instagram first and, you know, make sure people like what I'm doing and give them a couple of options and, uh, yeah, drop em on Instagram.
Very cool. Well, we'll definitely have you back.
Thank you so much for taking the time you thank you for having me.
Of course, you're listening to Faster Than Normal. If you're wondering why my voice is a little lower today. It's cause it's just about four in the morning here. And her being in a, uh, on the other hemisphere, I decided to get up even earlier than normal to get my workout in before or right after we interviewed. So this is me before my workout. If I'm a little calmer now, you know why guys as always you’ve been listening to Faster Than Normal. We love you for being here and we will see you next week. ADHD is a gift, not a curse. As is all neurodiversity. Stay tuned. See you again soon.
Credits: You've been listening to the Faster Than Normal podcast. We're available on iTunes, Stitcher and Google play and of course at www.FasterThanNormal.com I'm your host, Peter Shankman and you can find me at petershankman.com and @petershankman on all of the socials. If you like what you've heard, why not head over to your favorite podcast platform of choice and leave us a review, come more people who leave positive reviews, the more the podcast has shown, and the more people we can help understand that ADHD is a gift, not a curse. Opening and closing themes were composed and produced by Steven Byrom who also produces this podcast, and the opening introduction was recorded by Bernie Wagenblast. Thank you so much for listening. We'll see you next week.