Inspired by pop artists Katy Perry and Pink, a young Wagga woman is forging a career in handmade jewellery and decorative garlands.
Maddison Tooze, 21, was born with Down syndrome but far from being limited by her disability, she is now turning out product for her growing business, Madi T Designs.
Madi draws inspiration from her favourite singers to create her Katy Perry and Pink ranges of necklaces and earrings, along with decorative garlands for Christmas and new borns.
She even has celebrities, including Samantha Armytage, taking to social media wearing her necklaces.
Madi’s flair for arts and crafts was discovered six years ago while decorating a birthday cake for a relative.
This skill was again identified through her use of kinetic sand at Northcott Disability Services.
Her transition to air dried clay came about when Vicky was expressing her pride of Madi’s ability to Leisure Company staff who helped Madi apply for a “My Choice Matters’’ grant.
With the assistance of the Leisure Company and Interreach, Madi T Designs has flourished.
“Once the clay is rolled out to a consistent depth using a rolling pin or pasta maker, Madi then cuts it into hearts or flowers,’’ Vicky said.
“I use an apoxy resin to coat the jewellery and it is dry within 24 hours – it makes it waterproof and gives it a nice gloss.
“The pieces are then threaded onto leather strapping.’’
Leisure Company staff helped Madi write a letter to pop star Katy Perry and send her a necklace from the Madi T Katy Perry range.
Madi also sent a letter and necklace to Sunrise presenter Sam Armytage who posted an image of herself and the necklace on Instagram.
“My whole family is crafty – Madi does knitting with my mum using handspun wool so there will be beanies on her stall as well at Henty,’’ Vicky said.
“I love doing all this to support the girls – I knit and crochet, and have done leadlighting and pottery to keep my mind busy.
“The business is great for Madi because it’s about interacting and being part of the community.
“Feeling valued is the biggest thing – creating self-worth and self-confidence.
“And people are loving her products.’’
Madi has received support from customers and communities right around Australia.
“Naturally, there will always be people ignorant towards disability but there are so many people with beautiful hearts,’’ Vicky said.
“They see the value in what somebody does not what they look like.
“As a mum, you want to see your children achieve their goals – I would love to see her and a few of her friends have their own business together.’’
Madi T Designs will exhibit in the Country Lifestyle pavilion at the field days.
“At Henty, Madi will have her friends helping on her stall – it’s about creating awareness of how a disability shouldn’t hold you back,’’ Vicky said.
“There are so many people with a disability out there doing good things because they have been allowed to follow their dreams.
“I always get a tear in my eye to see anyone with a disability out there and achieving.’’
Vicky takes care of the accounting and uses the Facebook page, Madi T Designs, to market the jewellery.
Madi T Designs have been sold at the Lake Albert markets but Henty will be the first large outing.
“This will be all about what Madi does – sand art, knitting and the jewellery – yes, some is assisted but it’s all her own concept,’’ Vicky said.