TAMPA, Fla. - Andi Sullivan enjoys showing off her fashion creations. She's an unexpected star in her field, considering she's legally blind.
Andi is the owner of Originals by Andi. She designs one-of-a-kind ladies denim jackets.
"I love the material so much," she explained. "Everything is kind of different so that they are special in their own way."
Andi has overcome a lot. She had three strokes by the age of 30, she developed lupus, and she is blind due to a genetic disease.
"When you are blind, your world becomes kind of small and you think, 'Well, I can't do this and I can't do that,' but you can't think that way," she said.
Even before she became a fashion designer, Andi was creating beautiful items from wood.
She became a woodturner and has created lots of beautiful bowls and vases.
"It took some doing, as you can imagine. A bind lady on a lathe and everybody would come in and make sure that I had all my fingers at the end of the day," Andi said.
Her goal of woodturning is simple: "It makes you feel empowered, maybe if you can do this, you can do something else."
She found that something else when the pandemic hit.
"Took the denim jackets out of my closets, cut them all up and started putting fabrics that I had in varies places," she explained.
Andi designed her first jacket.
"I was wearing it one day and someone said, 'Where did you get that jacket?' and I said, 'Oh, I made it,'" she recalled.
Now, Andi has made more than 80 jackets that she sells to raise money for the woodturning program that she founded at Lighthouse for the Blind & Low Vision in Tampa.
"I was so happy that someone took a chance on me that I wanted to pay it forward, to help others feel like I did," Andi said.
She even has a special collection for the Tampa Bay Humane Society.
Andi says that each jacket is its own canvas, a canvas filled with hope and love. All proceeds for the jackets will go to Andi's woodturning programs. For more information, visit www.anoriginalbyandi.com.