Join Peta as she interviews Amy Evans, a Perth-based entrepreneur, Instagram content creator, and digital marketer who uses her platform to represent disabled people in fashion and horse racing. Discover how Amy navigates fashion on the field competitions, manages her digital marketing company, and deals with online trolls. Learn from her passion, creativity, and strategic mindset; an empowering conversation on disability, accessibility, and style.
Connect with Amy:
Amy's business Little Black Dress Digital: https://lbddigital.com.au
Amy's Website: https://www.thevelvetcourt.com
Connect with Peta:
Peta [00:00:03] Hello and welcome to the I Can't Stand podcast. The podcast answering your questions on what life is like when you have a disability. I'm your host. My name's Peta and I have cerebral palsy. This week I'm so excited that I have Amy Evans on the pod. Amy owns her own digital marketing company, but she's probably most known for her work on fashions on the field. She is representing disabled people in an area that we're not often seen. And she looks pretty amazing while she does it, too. So without any further ado, let's hand over to Amy.
Amy [00:00:53] Hi my name is Amy Evans, and I'm from Perth WA. I have a physical disability. Called Nemaline Myopathy and it's quite rare with only about 40 people in Australia. I use a ventilator which you will probably hear and an electric wheelchair. Besides from that, I run a business, I'm a Instagram content creator in the fashion and disability space. And I love nothing more than a day at the races.
Peta [00:01:27] That's very clear from your Instagram. Your fashion sense is just impeccable. So tell me about how you got into fashion on the field.
Amy [00:01:47] It kind of happened by accident to be honest. I was a race horse owner first. Love going to the races. So I thought why not amalgamate my two loves fashion and horse racing and compete in fashions on the field.
Peta [00:01:55] And when you first did it, did you find it very accessible? How did you find people's reactions.
Amy [00:02:02] To be honest it was not accessible at all. There are no ramps their was only stiars on to the stage. So if I wanted to enter I had to contact the race clubs beforehand and for safety reasons I do prefer to go in front of the stage, rather than on the stage because there was one instance when I was in the WA final where they had a lift on to the stage but then the lift broke.
Peta [00:02:36] We'll go back to fashion and I'm very bad. I always tend to go with luck with my first love. But tell me a little bit about your business and how you find working for yourself.
Amy [00:02:48] So my business is Little Black Dress Digital which is a digital marketing company so we specialise in social media, email marketing and website content. I actually started by accident I was at university in my final years during Covid so it was all online.Including internships. So I did a remote internship. I found it to be really good. Working for yourself working from home. With my disability, I get quite fatigued. So yeah I started my own business and I feel once you start your own business you cant go back.
Peta [00:03:33] I'm in love with it, too. It's absolutely great. From someone who also dabbles in social media. I'd love to know how you keep up to date with what's going to work on the social media platforms, because I always feel behind never know quite what I'm doing.
Amy [00:03:51] Instagram is one of the most fast moving platforms. It's so hard to keep up but what I tend to do is spending a lot of time on Instagram. Just scrolling and scrolling. Looking for ideas and inspiration. I just started dabbling in Tiktok so I haven't quite made it on that platform but certainly a few of my reels on Instagram have gone what you would say viral. One of them reached the wrong audience and the amount of trolling was unbelievable.
Peta [00:04:28] And how did you go with that? Do you find trolling really difficult?
Amy [00:04:32] I have a very supportive family and friends. I just look at it from the point of view, as in those trolls are idots and they have nothing better in their life than to comment nasty things. They are not very creative. They say things and it's like do you not think I know that like?
Peta [00:04:54] I'm sure it's the same for you, Amy I'm sure you've been told by certain people when you go down the street, do you have a license for that? Have you been drinking like all those old tropes.
Amy [00:05:06] Yeah and are you speeding?
Peta [00:05:09] Yeah, exactly. I'll give you a speed ticket. It's like, Oh, yeah, I had one of those before. Thanks so much. Hasas digital media marketing or marketing in general always been a passion for you? Have you always wanted to get into the industry?
Amy [00:05:24] When I actually went to TAFE first and did a course in residential building drafting. So I was going to go into the designing houses space and accessible housing but then I had a mid life crisis at age 19 and thought no I'm going to go marketing instead. So I just love the space it is constantly changing and I love the creative side and the strategic side. No two days are the same and I like that variety.
Peta [00:06:00] You said that your disability is really rare. Like me you don't know what it's not like to have a disability. What was it like for you growing up with your disability?
Amy [00:06:11] I'm very lucky. I have a twin sister with the same disability. So we've always had each other for support. My family brought me up saying you do whatever you want to do, we will make sure that it can happen in one way or another.
Peta [00:06:28] And do you find that having a twin sister and having the same disability gives you unique perspective and like coping coping mechanisms?
Amy [00:06:39] We are very different. Like she prefers identity first whereas I prefer people first so we are twins but we are very different people But it has definitely helped to know we arent alone.
Peta [00:06:57] Often when I meet people I don't know, I feel like I'm having to prove to them instantly pretty much that my life isn't a tragedy. I don't know what it's been like for you. I mean, but do you have any tips on how you better manage people when you first meet them? Like what sort of techniques you employ to make sure that the conversations are going to go okay.
Amy [00:07:21] Yeah, that's a really interesting question. When I meet people I always just present myself as me. I think it has a lot to do with confidence in yourself. A few years ago I would never put myself on a podcast like this. So I think you just have to work on yourself and know that you have a lot of value to give to the world.
Peta [00:08:04] So I'm back to fashion for a little bit. Can you tell me about what Mini Diana is?
Amy [00:08:11] Mini Diana is my mum's mannequin. I have a unique body shape due to my disability. Dad adapted her to have scoliosis so she looks like me. Mum drafts all her patterns on Mini Diana before I try on her outfits.
Peta [00:08:45] So is every outfit you wear adapted in some way by your mum? Or is it only the special occasions for fashions on the field, for example?
Amy [00:08:55] So mum does alter most of my clothes but for fashions on the field it is all from scratch.
Peta [00:09:04] So how many outfits do you have to have on a year on average when you compete for fashions on the field? And how much planning and effort goes in like in a year? Do you do you plan ahead or is it a little bit more free flowing?
Amy [00:09:19] So we have already started planning for the spring carnival this year. We have a booked milliner, to get the millinery ready to go. I don't compete in WA anymore I just compete on the national stage. So this year we are looking at about five outfits.
Peta [00:09:55] I really noticed looking through your Instagram, you really favour that hourglass classic, right?
Amy [00:10:01] Yeah. I love it
Peta [00:10:03] What's the end goal with fashions on the field? Is there a pinnacle that you think, Oh my goodness, I'd love to compete at this particular race met?
Amy [00:10:13] Yes, so I competed in the Melbourne Cup last year and I made the top ten. The winner of that goes into the Australian Final. So I would love to win the Australian final.That would be amazing. i never started doing it to win it was more about the disability representation because as far as I know I was the first person in an electric wheelchiar to compete on fashions on the field. So I just wanted to get that out there to the world especially fashions on the field because a lot of famous designers are there and look at it. So I hope by entering they see me and go oh wow that's really good.
Peta [00:10:56] I have to say thank you from a personal perspective, it really makes me so happy because I don't think I would have ever considered when I was younger to even compete on fashions on the field because it was so drummed into me that I didn't fit the preferred quote, preferred ideal. How do you go with body image in that sort of pressure, or does it not affect you?
Amy [00:11:20] Oh, I would say that it doesn't affect me a lot but there are cirtally days where I think oh I would love to change that about me. I think having self confidence is something that everyone should work on a little bit because it gets you far in life.
Peta [00:11:38] Sometimes I've noticed on your Instagram you pose without your ventilator on. Tell me about when you can take it off. What sort of conditions do you have to have to be able to take it off and why you take it off in certain photos? Why don't you have it?
Amy [00:11:54] I take it off to eat and I can last about an hour without it. Last years fashion on the field was actually the first time I've worn my ventilator in a competion so that was quite a massive step for me personally. Because a lot my disability has is to do with my ventilator or the 'sexy elephant look' as I call it. I mostly take it off because it is just another thing that the judges have to see past. So I wanted them to just see the outfit and not the disability.
Peta [00:12:31] Well, it makes you so memorable in a positive way. Like I always think, you know, I seem like it really needs a bit of a blessing because people aren't necessarily going to forget me. And my goodness. You said about amazing way and that judges arent going to forget you, right?
Amy [00:12:47] Yeah exactly.
Peta [00:12:50] I have to ask, have you ever considered starting your own fashion label because you, you and your mum have impeccable taste?
Amy [00:12:58] Well, we asked this question all the time. Mum's like I will never sew for anyone else except for you Amy. I think what people don't consider is that every disability is has unique needs when it comes to clothing and therefore designing all the mass field is quite hard. Even the differences between my sister and myself and we have the same disability. So I think that makes it very hard to start a fashion line.
Peta [00:13:29] For me and the audience to better understand How do your needs for clothes vary to your twin sister? Because I think that's a really interesting thing that even within disability diagnosis, it affects people in different ways.
Amy [00:13:44] Yeah, well, I have very different body shapes and scoliosis is in different parts of our bodies.So my scolisos affects my hips where as it affect [my sister's] upper body. So I'm very tiny but I have a very large waist which means I have to have the next size up so a size 12 even though I am size 8. Mum has to alter the rest of it to fit my size 8 body. Often what happens is mum comes up with the design and she is like trust me Amy this is going to work. So I have to trust her and she hasn't let me down so far so.
Peta [00:14:26] Also from being on fashions on the field. It's very clear that you love horses. Can you talk to us about your relationship with horses and where that came from?
Amy [00:14:35] A I said mum and dad haven't always encouraged my sister and I to do whatever we wanted. So one day we were sitting outside having dinner and I said I want to win The Melbourne Cup. So I researched the stables found one in Perth, picked out my own horse. We had to sign up the horse in my mum's name because you have to be over 28 to own a race horse. And yeah that's like eight years ago. Here we are now.
Peta [00:15:05] Did you grow up in a horse racing family?
Amy [00:15:08] No! My family have nothing to do with horse racing. I've always loved horses. Growing up I had a shetland pony and now I have two miniature horses but yeah the family is not involved in racing at all. It's really interesting the racing community is one of the most inclusive communities that I've ever come across but there is definalty an elelemtn of Wow you own a race horse, that's so cool.
Peta [00:15:38] Can you tell me why representation is important to you?
Amy [00:15:43] Well, I am a big believer in that know better do better and if they don't know better than how are we expecting them to do better? It's not always our job to educate others but if you can educate I think you should.
Peta [00:16:00] And what do you wish people understood about living with disability?
Amy [00:16:06] People with physical disabilities don't always have a mental disability. I am a high achiever I was in the top 1% of students in university and it is just that lack of expectation of what we can do.
Peta [00:16:24] Is there anything you don't like about living with your disability?
Amy [00:16:29] M I don't try and focus of that side. You'd become very depressed if you did but probably the lack of spontaneity I have support workers that support me every day. You have to always constantly plan ahead. The lack of privacy. i don't always want having someone follow me around. But that's life so.
Peta [00:16:59] And on a more positive note, is there anything you love about having your disability?
Amy [00:17:06] It's taught me a lot of things in life. It's taught me to be patient to be organised. Yeah there are a lot of things.
Peta [00:17:16] Is there anything you wish for the future for people with disabilities?
Amy [00:17:21] More representation in the media. I know there is a lot of talk at the moment in the advertising space. I would love to see more representation in that side of things. and the fashion New York fashion week, Melbourne Fashion Week I'd love to see more people with disabilities in that space. It is actually one of my goals is to be on the cover of Vogue. If that happened I would be so thrilled.
Peta [00:17:51] Thank you for listening to this week's episode. I hope you enjoyed it. If you ever want to ask me a question for a future episode of the podcast, suggest guest or just get in touch. You can follow me via Instagram. My handle is at Peter Hook spelt pay Petahooke or via my website icantstandpodcast.com. If you could leave a writing a review that would also make my day. Thanks so much for listening and until next week. Have a good one, guys. Bye. I'd like to pay my respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, but especially to the pioneering people where this podcast was recorded.