Meet Inclusive Entrepreneur: Victoria Jenkins of Unhidden Clothing

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Victoria Jenkins"Set your boundaries! I have rest days on Wednesdays, I start work at 10am and if I need a nap in the day I take that nap - self-care is super important and it doesn’t mean my productivity is any less it usually means it’s better!"


Victoria Jenkins
Founder, Unhidden Clothing




CEO Jacquline Winstanely caught up with Victoria Jenkins to find out what makes her an inspiring and Inclusive Entrepreneur. Victoria is a member of the Inclusive Entrepreneur community

Victoria, you are An Inclusive Entrepreneur, a member of our Inclusive Entrepreneurship Community. It would really help me if you could set the scene so our visitors understand not only the concept but the person behind your brand.

"I am an award winning adaptive designer, disability advocate, speaker and writer. I studied fashion design at Istituto Marangoni graduating in 2008. I have spent the past 14 years working as a garment technologist before going freelance in 2017 when I became a start up consultant and technical illustrator also. I became disabled in my mid 20’s and have had a variety of gastrointestinal and musculoskeletal conditions / symptoms from surgeries and complications of my conditions. This is what led to my founding Unhidden, a socially responsible adaptive fashion range for people with disabilities. In early 2021 I wrote my first book, 'The Little Book of Ableism' as a guide to help non disabled people learn simple and easy ways to communicate with the community and be accessible in their private and professional lives. I regularly speak about ableism and inclusive design as well as disability representation and depiction in the media.

The second eldest of 6 children, I grew up in the small village of Wendlebury in Oxfordshire. I wanted to be a dancer but a broken ankle aged 15 stopped that career- luckily I’d also always loved to draw and dress up!

 Aged 19 I moved to Whitechapel in London and studied fashion design at Istituto Marangoni, graduating with a first in 2008.

I interned for Inbar Spector a week after graduating for 7 months, then got my first paid role in the industry as a pattern cutter at Goddiva, an online retailer. During my time there I incorporated many of the skills needed to be a garment technologist- which is what I have predominantly worked as ever since. Working with a wide variety of companies and brands, from suppliers to Tesco and Primark all the way to AllSaints, Sweaty Betty and Victoria Beckham, I have picked up years of experience on garment fit and construction which I utilise to this day as an adaptive designer, founding Unhidden as my first own brand company in 2017 which launched in November 2020.

Against this fashion industry career there has been a huge other factor in my life; disability.

Not born disabled, I spent years with difficult stomach and bowel related symptoms. In my early 20’s it wasn’t until a life-threatening ulcer burst in 2012 that I began to be taken seriously and diagnosed with a raft of conditions and undergoing multiple other surgeries- all whilst working full time.

It was during a 2016 hospital stay that I met a fellow patient who was well enough to have bedside conversations with. This woman had beaten ovarian cancer, but the treatment had left her with multiple other complications from stomas to feeding tubes to medical lines in her arms. She spoke of how she couldn’t dress the way she wanted for work, couldn’t dress comfortably even when at home and had to remove all clothing to access parts of her own body for the medical teams who came to see her.

This proved to be the spark that led me down the adaptive design path, going freelance in 2017 so I could manage my health as well as pursue this idea having seen youth, sustainability and. style left out of a lot of adaptive clothing at the time. While the landscape is changing wonderfully, there is still few brands offering sustainable men’s and women’s stylish adaptive clothing.

It wasn’t until March 2020, when my freelance work stopped, that I finally had the time and energy to focus on Unhidden. I also realised I could do more than design - I could speak. I could educate. I could share what I learned with more than just close friends and family. And so, after doing a lot of courses and reading and watching and creating as much as I could, I began to speak publicly- something 18 year old me vowed I would NEVER do!

In the last 18 months I have launched 2 businesses (No Comment Required was co-founded with Jasmine Leanne Gaterell) made fashion history as the first adaptive brand on London’s Oxford Street, written my first book, spoken to huge networks like Retail Week and Enterprise Nation, become creative director ofBuddies for All CiC, became brand ambassador forModels of Diversity and Naidex. And have had a multitude of press coverage and even some live tv spots!

On September 16th 2021 I coordinated a fundraiser fashion show called ‘A Fashion Revolution’ as part of my work with Models of Diversity, featuring 3 other adaptive brands and 3 sustainable brands that embodied everything I do - championing every demographic and every brand that believes in and adheres to true inclusion."


Awards: Female Start Up Of the Year - Enterprise Nation October 2021

Business with purpose- highly commended - MicroBusiness Awards, November 2021

Business For Good - The Independent Awards, December 2021


What led you to Entrepreneurship?

"I went freelance in 2017 after I had my idea for Unhidden but also because permanent roles were proving difficult to manage- and working for myself meant I could test ideas, meet new people and gave me a level of flexibility to take on courses and learn more about business and different routes to earning money."


Why did you choose to go down this route? 

"Working in permanent 9-5  roles for other people was very stressful when my symptoms were flaring, and it was physically too much to commute 5 days a week.. It felt more like surviving than thriving and I had stopped thinking about a long term career or what I wanted, I was instead just trying to keep my head above water and that didn’t feel great."


How did you embark on the Entrepreneurial journey?  

"I ran myself as a ‘business’ and kept to what I knew initially, but over time I began to add to my own offering, which lead to me taking courses to learn what I felt I was missing and just give myself a confidence boost to test out ideas and see what did and didn’t work- all of it added up to where I am now and I continue to listen to peers, mentors and take short courses where I feel I have gaps."


Did you feel that this was tougher for you than for people without disabilities?

"Yes - because clients still work to the 9-5 rule and boundaries were  just as hard to set even when I was technically ‘in charge’ of them.

 Then there is the added fear of finances being a problem with not enough savings to really rely on in quiet months and that extra stress often does impact my physical symptoms as I have to work even harder some months to try and accrue enough money.. It can make risk taking very hard. Also I was still working in an industry that cares little for people with disabilities so the level of understanding or empathy was often lacking- not always but often." 


Please outline the how, where and what about your business and the value it brings as an Inclusive Enterprise.

"Unhidden is a universally designed fashion brand; this means clothing that caters to as many bodies as possible within each garment- if you don’t need the adaptations you don’t have to use them, but if you DO need them they are there- this is ultimately also one of the most sustainable ways to design clothing and makes smarter use of our declining resources. Because of the nature of my ‘ehy’, whenever I speak with new people or do public talks I naturally am highlighting the very real need for and financial benefit of inclusion- it’s a kind of ‘win win’ situation. Unhidden is about more than fashion, it is about equity and I live this every day."


Why this particular business and brand? 

"Fashion has for far too long wilfully ignored the 15% of the global population- from poor inclusion with models to poor hiring practices, it makes sense to me to utilise the 14 years I have worked in the industry but for a better purpose- I have worked hard and learned a lot in that time and I don’t plan to waste that time or knowledge."


What successes have you had along the way that you are particularly proud of?

"Ah I am so so lucky to be able to say there are so many moments I am proud of- the very first photoshoot was probably the first time I spent hours with young disabled people outside of a hospital setting and I had moments throughout the day seeing the models laughing and joking and we’re all now one big friendship group which I love! Winning each of the awards were also massive for me- made me feel more like a ‘legitimate’ business owner! To be at the point I am now at after 6ish years of research and 1.2 years  of trading makes me pretty proud- it’s been a slog and often it has been hard to see the big picture but it’s coming together!"


Mention some of the obstacles you had to face and overcome to get to where you are today.

"Having the courage to put myself forward has been one of the biggest obstacles- it used to feel very unnatural but you cannot be shy about coming forward when you’re the sole employee at a company- no one is going to do it for me! But therein lies the problem- on my sick days I often have to reschedule a number of calls and there have been clashes when I have squeezed too much in- I”m still finding balance and  boundaries.

Not knowing where my next pay check is coming from is an especially hard obstacle and one I have not overcome- I am super lucky my partner and my Mum are able to be supportive but it is the biggest and heaviest  weight- I have nothing to fall back on and I am used to being financially independent so it’s been really tough relying on others- I just have to keep the faith it will work out eventually."


What are the economic benefits of being an entrepreneur? 

"Right now it’s hard for me to say there are many- I used to earn a pretty amazing salary in the first 2 years going freelance but that hasn’t been the case lately (of course, that is the same for everyone really given the pandemic) that said, being able to generate income in a variety of ways is really exciting and often very fun- I ran art classes, I made and sold masks, I try different things and my next idea is on passive income which I hope to be able to utilise in the coming months."


What assistance have you had along the way, and how has that helped you get where you are today?

"I have had some incredible support from people I met on courses or through social media- the more I have been open to trying ideas or networking, the easier some of the tasks become! Also having a variety of sounding boards keeps me in check when my brain throws out another idea. I do need to be kept in check sometimes and I am so thankful to the people who recognise the signs when I am overdoing it and call me out. Burn out in this community is really common and in all honesty I think I’m currently in that space but working out how to claw my way back to a routine and accept help or support from other people has been vital."


As an entrepreneur, what would you advise other disabled people who are also considering embarking on a similar journey? 

"Have savings and a plan- perhaps have part time work set up or a passive revenue income stream first before going full time on an idea. Also think really hard about co-founders- navigating that is difficult and I have heard too many stories of equity being given away halting the potential to bring in new investors and maintain control of your own company- really make sure whoever you bring on board is going to help you in the way you want them to help be it financial or actual work, and ensure they have the language, knowledge and skills relevant to your business. Finally- set your boundaries! I have rest days on Wednesdays, I start work at 10am and if I need a nap in the day I take that nap - self-care is super important and it doesn’t mean my productivity is any less it usually means it’s better!


If you would like to contact Victoria, you can email her on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. You can also follow her on social media:



Twitter:  @UnhiddenFashion




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