While we as a country consider the contributions that black people have made to society as we now know it, black people, in particular, are used to hearing the same names cited year after year during Black History Month. With the reckonings that have been called for and the strides that have been made in the last year, inclusion and representation are starting to take shape. Taking this into account, it would be refreshing to incorporate new names into our Black History Month conversations, modern black people who are standing on the shoulders of key individuals that we celebrate during Black History Month. Enter Kathy D. Woods, a black little woman who is the first African American to design women’s clothes for adult little people. She stands out to me because she is filling a gap in clothing design, known best by Little People, and is successful at doing so.
We associate best with people we identify with. Sometimes, groups of people are overlooked because they are not on our radar. It would appear that this is also the case with Little People, especially with the most basic need of clothing. Woods stresses that her clothing line is ready to wear, detailing that oftentimes, Little People have to alter their clothes leading to an end product that is distorted from how the clothing item looked originally. She also points out that the alternative to altering your own clothes at home is an expensive trip to a tailor.
While Woods has been celebrated as an innovator and was invited to the White House from the Obama Administration to be recognized, she still struggles with being in a niche market. Having a customer base of around 30, 000 makes investors wary. Still, she advocates for inclusive design in fashion every chance she gets. Woods is also vigorous enough in her goals that she knows when to move on from people that don’t understand or share her vision. Being a business owner has taught her to accept that you can’t please everyone.
Being made aware of Kathy D Woods and her fashion line raises the bar for doing the best that you can with what you are given. She points out that being a Little Person, black, and a woman is not to her disadvantage as some would have expected. I was surprised to read that Woods did not feel supported by the Little People community, in general. She speculates that it may be due to the newness of the industry and people’s general resistance to change. While people’s resistance to change has been a perpetual theme, I do indeed look forward to seeing more of Woods, her clothing, and Little People, in general, being taken more seriously and valued for their contributions to our society.