By Alison Decker
NASHVILLE, TN — Tiffany Hamilton established Victor Wear with son and Co-Chief Brand Ambassador Isaiah Hamilton in April of this year.
Hamilton hopes to create economic mobility for individuals on the autism spectrum through Victor Wear. Victor Wear sales athletic wear featuring T-shirts and hoodies. Hamilton started the company while working full-time in marketing and continues to do so.
Hamilton said, “I know the statistics of job placement for individuals on the autism spectrum and there are not enough opportunities for them to thrive. When my son turned 16 a fire lit under me to secure his future; since there were not enough opportunities and this is what he’s going to face, we’re going to create the opportunity.”
According to the Autism Science website, roughly 85 percent of individuals with autism will become unemployed or underemployed throughout their life and nearly half of 25-year-olds with autism have never held a paying job. Approximately 1 in 44 children in the U.S. is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to the 2018 data. Boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls.
Hamilton said, “The spectrum meaning is different in terms of employing what they’ll need to succeed and people are often placed into categories, which is something we didn’t want to do with Victor Wear.” The Trevor Martin death in 2018 further motivated Hamilton to create the idea of forming a company.
Hamilton said, “I realized I needed to get aggressive about my son’s future, that he will be okay with his future being a Black male and facing challenges in America. I wanted to ensure his success because I knew he would have obstacles like this to face being a young disabled Black man.”
Hamilton said she faced obstacles when applying for funding for the company.
“It was really hard to get funding before we officially launched because so many business loans want two years of sales receipts and proof of business success,” she recalled. “It’s really hard to get funding for businesses at the initial business development stages. So it’s like a catch-22. You need funding to grow and develop your idea. But, I have found few options available for a business like mine to give funds to a business owner, which leaves individuals like myself to use savings and apply for online loans. Funding is hard to obtain when you haven’t been deemed an official business yet and that is one area that is really lacking.”
The aspiration for the company is to grow the brand to further the opportunities for African Americans with autism and other disabilities by creating economic opportunities for other Black and disabled entrepreneurs that could be turned down by other businesses, Hamilton said.
She enlisted the help of a public relations company to create some recognition and business before officially opening in April. They timed the opening of Victor Wear to fall on World Autism Awareness Day when they launched just two months ago, Hamilton said. Victor Wear recently received the DC Chamber of Commerce’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. The company was also a part of a competition called Score Perfect Pitch, a U.S. reality series.
Hamilton said, “It took me months to get comfortable with the idea of sharing our story, but I knew that I needed to because our story connects with other people who know or love someone with autism.”
For more information or to purchase apparel visit Victorwear.com. The company is also on Facebook and Instagram at @victorwearco. Hamilton will be having a giveaway on the day of this article’s publication. To enter to win, follow and subscribe to both their social media accounts and fill out this form https://victorwear.com/pages/tenn-tribune-giveaway by June 22nd to be entered to win a free T-shirt. 10% of profits of the business are donated to The Special Olympics in Virginia.