Whitney Violette designs awareness for dyslexia

Kate DeForrest

“I like my logo, VRW, and my tagline, ‘apparel with a cause.’ That’s what’s going to be on [the clothing], representing the people that buy it. [I like that] the people who buy [my designs] will know it has a cause behind it. It is more than just a hoodie or a regular t-shirt,” Redwood junior Whitney Violette said.

Whitney’s logo, VRW Design, symbolizes her dyslexia by placing her initials backwards. (Photo courtesy of Whitney Violette)

On April 19, Whitney launched her own clothing line, VRW Designs. Violette was inspired by her dyslexia for her designs and her brand is dedicated to raising awareness about the learning disability. 

“It was starting with the idea [that] I knew I wanted to sell something… I talked to my dad about it and he had the idea of doing it with my dyslexia, to empower the disability,” Whitney said.

The cause behind Whitney’s brand is very important to her, and she has found that it has made a profound impact on her life. While she was first unsure about what to sell, Whitney was later inspired by her schoolwork and learning about Gavin Newsom’s experience with dyslexia.

“I wrote an essay for my [Advanced Placement Language and Composition] class about my dyslexia, my perspective, and how it can be considered a blessing or a curse because you do have to overcome some challenges, but in the end it just makes you stronger,” Whitney said.

To launch her business, Whitney first began designing her merchandise on platforms such as Wix and Printify, which she found to be one of the most entertaining parts of the process. While she enjoys the artistic parts of her business, the logistical aspects, like getting a small business license, were more of a challenge.

“[The hardest part of launching my clothing was] making sure I was taking all of the right steps to go through the design process and making sure that it was an approved business,” Whitney said.

Whitney’s dad, Philippe Violette, helped her launch her clothing brand. He has also created multiple small businesses in the past and hopes that she will learn from this experience.

“I hope [Whitney] is able to learn that starting a company is not that hard. It seems very complicated and daunting, but it’s actually not that difficult. If she decides to do something else in the future, it will be less intimidating [than starting her own business],” Philippe said.

Academic Workshop teacher Andrew Schroeder is confident that Whitney will be successful in her business. He finds that her determination and persistence have allowed her to excel in her activities, including designing her apparel.

“Whitney is a total go-getter. She has a lot of perseverance. If she sees something that she wants to do, if she sees a challenge in front of her, she will not give up. She’s really dedicated,” Schroeder said.

Whitney’s logo, VRW, stands for her initials backwards, symbolizing her dyslexia. She finds that in addition to allowing her to advocate for people with dyslexia, her disability has helped her to assist others with similar challenges.

Spending her free time designing her apparel, Whitney started her business, VRW designs, this April. (Photo courtesy of Whitney Violette)

“My dyslexia has helped me be more empathetic towards people who have disabilities. My disability is minor, it’s not affecting my whole being, my whole personality, so [it has allowed me to] understand those with other challenges as well,” Whitney said.

To help spread her message, 15 percent of the profits from Whitney’s business go to the International Dyslexia Association, a nonprofit formed to help those with dyslexia and gain support for the disability. Schroeder believes that Whitney’s company will impact the community by spreading awareness about dyslexia and other disabilities.

“I think that people with dyslexia are not as recognized in the disabled community. I think [raising] awareness for any disability that we can is important… I think what Whitney is doing could lead to something really positive,” Schroeder said.

Philippe also hopes that Whitney will help inspire others. While he was never diagnosed with dyslexia, he believes that he has the disorder and hopes that VRW designs will help others with dyslexia feel less different. “I hope she’s able to make a difference for a few people who either have dyslexia or some other challenge and either help them or make them feel like it’s not that big of a deal,” Phillipe said.

In the future, Whitney wants to continue to grow her business. However, she ultimately hopes that her business will have an impact on the community.

“I hope that more people will be able to understand dyslexia because of [my clothing brand], and understand that challenges are what make us who we are,” Whitney said.