By Clementine Schouteden, CEO & Founder of Rare Birds

Growing up with two neurodivergent siblings, I have been exposed to the challenges faced by those who feel different. Witnessing their struggles has given me a firsthand understanding of the importance of acceptance and inclusivity. This sparked a deep empathy in me that has stayed with me ever since.

At times, I too have felt the pressure to fit in, which has only strengthened my desire to help others find their place.

I have always been passionate about helping disabled persons through design and business. Through my work, I am committed to creating a supportive environment where everyone can feel valued and understood. 

My first company, Kavee, became a leading global brand in the small pet industry by prioritising diversity and inclusivity in our global supply chain. We intentionally hired workers with varying degrees of disabilities, which was a source of pride for me. However, I wanted my next venture to take things even further by developing products that directly support people with disabilities and promote their inclusion.

While I am proud of Kavee's success, my focus now is on making a positive impact in the world by prioritizing the needs of all individuals, regardless of their differences. 

As someone who has struggled with stress-induced eating in social situations, I have learned firsthand the power of clothing and the psychology of fashion. I am keenly aware of how what I wear can significantly impact my confidence and overall sense of well-being. Understanding this dynamic has reinforced my belief in the importance of feeling comfortable and confident in what we wear. As I continue to navigate these challenges, I am inspired to explore the ways in which fashion can help us feel our best in any situation. 

I met Kerry, an extremely talented creative director in the fashion and textile industry, at the beginning of 2022. While chatting over lunch, we realised we shared the same dream : creating a clothing brand that supports the inclusion of disabilities. We were each other's missing puzzle piece to make this dream happen! Convinced that our encounter was no coincidence, we committed to found Rare Birds that same year.  

To create Rare Birds, me and my team spent countless hours researching the needs and preferences of people with neurodivergence, consulting with experts in the field, and designing prototypes of my clothing. I was determined to create clothing that would not only be functional but also stylish and affordable.

Finally, after months of hard work and dedication, we launched Rare Birds. The response was overwhelmingly positive. People with neurodivergence and their families appreciated the thought and care that had gone into the design of the clothing. They felt seen and understood in a way that they had never felt before. 

But that's just the beginning of our story. At Rare Birds, we believe in giving back and making a positive impact in the world. That's why a portion of our profits is donated to charities working to improve understanding of neurodiversity and the associated challenges. Additionally, I am passionate about supporting causes such as closing the gender gap in autism diagnoses, addressing food disorders that affect neurodivergent individuals, and fighting against sexual abuse and domestic violence that can disproportionately impact people with disabilities. These are important issues that require our attention and action, and we are proud to be a part of the solution. 

Our little hummingbird has just begun its adventure, and I am filled with pride and excitement for all that is yet to come. I can't wait to see where this journey takes us.

photo of the ceo and designer for Rare Birds. Two women posing on white block

April 08, 2023 — Clementine Schouteden