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August 25, 2022 | Tom Ballard

Torchbearer spotlights Mary Cayten Brakefield and her new line of adaptive clothing

The Torchbearer is the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s (UTK) quarterly magazine, and the latest edition features Mary Cayten Brakefield, am alumna who has launched her first collection of adaptive clothing.

The article (click heredescribes how the student athlete who had aspirations as an Olympic swimmer saw those dreams shattered when she was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and dysautonomia. Brakefield was part of a program for student athletes named the VOLeaders Academy where the students were asked “How are you going to use your talents and your platform to make people’s lives better?”

As a person who had been sewing since age six and making her own clothes since high school, she was able to connect some dots with individuals she had met who, because of disabilities, had trouble finding clothing.

During her senior year, Brakefield pitched the idea for an adaptive fashion line at the “Graves Business Plan Competition” where she won third place in the lifestyle category. A few months later, she was awarded $10,000 in seed funding through the “Boyd Venture Challenge,” another competition organized by the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the Haslam College of Business. Her success led her to be selected to represent UTK at the SEC Student Pitch Competition.

Brakefields LLC, located in Nashville, is a partnership between the UTK alumna and her mother.


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