Seen & Heard: Susan Robinson

When people are referred to as a ‘Force of Nature’, it is often undue praise. Not because the person in question lacks presence or power, but because they lack them in the degree required to be considered a force. Susan Robinson is not one of those people. She is unassailable; when she enters a room the climate changes. Always for the better.  After you watch our video interview, you’ll understand why we felt that she perfectly embodies the kind of people we want to cover for the ‘Seen & Heard’ segment of the Blind Spot.

Susan demands attention in a way that is understated, but nevertheless enthralling. Which is to everyone’s benefit since when she articulates her ideas they are always, “ideas worth spreading”. Lucky for us, TED has given Susan the platform to share some of those worthy ideas. Today, her TED talk “How I fail at being disabled” is out.

Beyond being a TED resident, Susan is an executive level business partner and has worked extensively in the life sciences and healthcare industries. She also writes about “failing at being disabled” on her blog, Oh Fabled One. Check out our interview, Susan’s TED talk and all the other great work she does.

Seen & Heard: Evan Mittman

Photo credit: Fred Marcus Studio

Photo credit: Fred Marcus Studio

Anyone who has met or talked with Evan Mittman is aware of his energy. You would be hardpressed not to feel it. It is infectious to say the least. Mr. Mittman is a presence above all else. This Seen & Heard was conducted over the phone, and we are willing to bet when you listen to the audio, you will feel his presence as well.

Photo credit: Fred Marcus Studio

Photo credit: Fred Marcus Studio

Photo credit: Fred Marcus Studio

Photo credit: Fred Marcus Studio

During his first year of college Mr. Mittman began to lose his sight. He dropped out, only to come back and graduate by using reel to reel tapes to help him study and take course work at his own pace. In his 20s, Mr. Mittman began making simple belts for young men and gradually made his fortune by making licensed accessories for the likes of Lacoste and Calvin Klein through his own company Cipriani.

Mr. Mittman has retired from his long and successful career in the fashion world, but still plays an active part in pursuing a cure for blindness. He currently serves on the board for the Foundation Fighting Blindness. Additionally, he is a self-proclaimed, “beloved professor” at Marist College.

Give this interview a listen and learn all about Evan Mittman’s inspirational story. Anyone, not just the visually impaired, can glean great life lessons from some of the answers he gave us and the stories he shared.

If you want some more words of wisdom from Mr. Mittman, click here to see our Facebook Live where he gives some of the best advice you’ll ever get.

Sense of Style: The Oakley's Day Out

Today is going to be a busy day for you.

Dawn until dusk your schedule’s full. You have places to go and friends to see. The farmers’ market is up first, a great way to get some fresh air and even fresher food. After that you have midday brunch in the heart of the city with some friends you haven’t seen in a bit. Then you have a blind date at your favorite contemporary museum. Finally, you and the girls are going to paint the town red to end the day. I know you’re starting to feel a little overwhelmed, but there’s nothing to worry about, you’ve planned ahead and the day is going to go off without a hitch. Oh, you forgot to put together an outfit didn’t you? Don’t panic, as always, we have you covered…

It’s going to be tight, but if you can avoid multiple wardrobe changes, the day’s events will occur seamlessly. We’re going to go with a versatile look, something that easily transitions from day to night. The Oakley is a true stalwart in the Two Blind Brothers catalogue and works in a plethora of styles. Seeing as you’ll be out for the majority of the day, being prepared for temperature changes is a no brainer. A lightweight denim jacket will keep you warm earlier in the day and late at night when it gets chilly. Make sure whatever jacket you choose is light enough to be carried without being a bother. A strong pop of color is always a good call when rocking a white shirt - try a fun pair of shorts. We went with red and paired them with exciting earrings in the same color. A small wallet that keeps inline with the color scheme and/or a pair of Raybans will offer even more in regards to accessorizing. When it comes to footwear it’s dealer’s choice; this look works with sandals, flats, or even sleek heels. If you’re feeling ambitious and have the space for them, you can make a shoe switch part way through the day. No matter what you choose, the outfit will be playing second fiddle to you today.

Today is going to be a great day for you!

Sense of Style: Introducing the "Spark"

Summer is the Season of Doing. It’s all about fitting as much activity as possible into three months. Between June and August you’ll hit the beach, regular at music festivals, see a show in the park, take an exotic trip or two, spend late nights making memories with friends and so much more. Like a physical reaction, the heat arouses activity across the country. Burnout is a real possibility when every day is approached with a carpe diem mindset. To mitigate the chances of you running out of steam, the Two Blind Brothers team recommends intermittent days for relaxing. And we all know the best way to relax is in a comfortable Two Blind Brothers shirt…

It’s your day off from adventuring; you want to keep your look effortless, simple for the summer. Our plain white, short sleeved henley, the Spark, is the epitome of simplicity and agreeability. Worn khakis are probably your best bet for a pants pairing; a reliable pair you already own and love will suffice. At the office we’re big fans of Nike Janoskis for this look, but any sneaker or skate shoe in a muted color will look just as good. Love the look? Try it out with some of our other staple colors:  black, charcoal, light grey and navy. All of our shirts are extremely breathable, thanks to the bamboo fabric blend we use, so you’ll stay cool regardless of the color you choose.

Don’t forget your aviator sunglasses, a notebook or a novel to unwind with on your well earned summer sabbatical.

How we #FeltTheDifference

When it is difficult to see the design or brand name on a shirt, the deciding factor in buying it is the way it feels. For us and the millions of visually impaired people across America and around the world that is the case; feel and comfort come first. So, we set out to make shirts that would put the visually impaired first, in the way they are made, how they feel and the cause that drives them.

“What makes your shirts so comfortable?” is definitely one of the most frequently asked questions the Two Blind Brothers team gets. It is an excellent question and as much as we would like to say the secret is the love put into every shirt by the Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind and ourselves, the truth lies actually in our fabric. All of our shirts are a very specific tri-blend, that took half a year to discover and decide on.

Every shirt is made with three materials- 66% bamboo, 28% cotton and 6% lycra- each providing our shirts with distinct qualities:

  • The bamboo, which is made of light, long fibers, gives the shirts with their unparalleled softness and breathability. Bamboo is a versatile plant that can grow in almost any climate, this is why our shirts keep you cool in the heat and warm in the cold.

  • The extra-soft cotton nicely complements the bamboo and also gives the shirts their breathability. Cotton is also very structurally sound, which is why our shirts are tough and retain their color for the lifetime of the shirt.

  • The touch of lycra allows our shirts to have a bit of give, while also retaining their shape. This trait is what prevents serious wrinkling and keeps our shirts form fitting. Additionally, it has excellent wicking properties, protecting you and your shirt from thrills and spills.

The three materials we’ve chosen go together excellently and combine to make shirts that are not only comfortable, but also have various performance qualities that make them great for everyday wear.

The proof is in the pudding however, so if you haven’t felt our shirts for yourself, shop here and #FeelTheDifference!

Listen to Bryan tell an anecdote about how we went through tons of swatches to land on the right one.

Sense of Style: Seas the day in the "Amber"

So you’re going to the beach to beat the heat? Good plan; it’s been a pretty hot summer so far. Spending time in the water is a given, but that’s not the only way to have fun in the sun. You’ll probably want to catch some rays, maybe hit the boardwalk for a few drinks, finally get some of that reading done and if you’re really feeling it, you can put your skills to the test by taking a shot at building a sandcastle. Maybe you’re just planning on kicking back and taking it all in. No matter your plan of action, we’re here to make sure you look good doing it…

The clear sky, the inviting water and you are all going to be in various hues of blue. For when you’re splashing around in your favorite ocean, sea or lake we’d recommend a patterned two piece with a mixture of dark and light blues. Keep in mind that the one piece swimsuit is making a comeback this summer, so if that’s more your speed, go for it! When you’re not in the water or tanning throw on the breathable Amber to subtly complement your suit. The bamboo used to make the Amber is what helps to keep it light. Additionally, the shirt has some hydrophobic properties, so you can put it on while you’re still a bit wet and it won’t get damp. Sunscreen is the best accessory and a true necessity seaside. Pack your sunscreen, any reading materials and a towel or two in an oversized caribbean blue bag or tote. A pair of aviators and a classy fedora will finish off the look nicely.

Shop the look here and go soak up the sun!

Seen & Heard: Christine Hà

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Cooking and eating are some of the most sensory-rich experiences we have. Obviously, the star of the show is our sense of taste. We choose what we eat and drink primarily based on how we expect them to taste. When something hits our taste buds, in a fraction of a second, we know whether or not we enjoy the flavor. There is no fabricating the euphoria that comes from enjoying the sweetness of ice cream in the summer. Taste is the star of our food experiences, but our other senses play major roles in our experience of making and enjoying food. The smell of cookies baking evokes memories of being at grandma’s. Bacon sizzling on a pan is a sound that is instantly recognizable when it hits the ear. The hands are likely to never forget the soft feel of kneaded dough. That leaves sight. All the colors in the world can be found in the kitchen. A well plated meal is a timeless work of art. We traditionally consider our sense of sight to be a vital part of the cooking experience.

So what happens if vision is removed from the equation? Can you even cook if you can’t clearly see what you are doing? Can a meal be properly enjoyed if you’re not sure what’s on your plate? In Christine Hà we find the answers to these questions.

Christine Hà is a writer and professional chef. She also happens to be blind. If you were to look at her list of accolades, you would never guess that she has lost a significant amount of her vision. She has worked as the Fiction Editor for a major publication, she has published her own cookbook, she has co-hosted her own cooking show, and most impressively, Gordon Ramsay is a very big fan of hers. That makes sense, considering she was the season 3 winner of the popular cooking competition show, MasterChef. All of her success has been recognized by the blind community; in 2014 she received the Helen Keller Personal Achievement Award from the Foundation for the Blind. Previous recipients include Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder.

Christine Hà is a truly inspiring person, so naturally we had to talk to her. We got in contact with her and she was kind enough to take some time and answer all of our questions.

Bon Appetit!

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Two Blind Brothers: How old were you when you started to lose your sight? What was that like?
Christine Hà: Age 20.  Obviously scary.

TBB: What advice do you have for young people currently losing their vision?
CH: Seek a support group or network.  Learn how to properly grieve the loss of vision.

TBB: Has cooking been a lifelong passion of yours? If so, how did your experience in the kitchen change as you began to lose your sight?
CH: No.  I only started cooking in college at around the same time I began losing my vision.  I had to learn new techniques and find creative adaptive solutions to my ever-changing vision.

TBB: What is your favorite part about cooking?
CH:  Learning and feeding others.

TBB: At Two Blind Brothers, all profits go to researching a cure for macular degeneration. You founded Dining for NMO, which raises money for the Guthy-Jackson Research Foundation Inc. For people who don’t know, what is NMO and how can they help?
CH: NMO, or Neuromyelitis Optica, is a rare autoimmune disease primarily affecting the optic nerves and spinal cord.  The best way to help is to support the Guthy Jackson Charitable Foundation with a donation.

TBB: You have a cooking show, Four Senses, on Accessible Media Inc. (AMI) in Canada, do you feel we need more accessible ways for the visually impaired to consume media?
CH: Definitely. I like that Netflix now adds audio description to all its original programming.  It should be mandatory for all films and television.  I did a TEDx talk about this very matter: how blind people want to be able to enjoy entertainment too.

TBB: Do you have a culinary guilty pleasure? Are you secretly a huge Big Mac fan?
CH: I don’t believe in guilty pleasures.  I think you should never regret what you decide to consume. I eat McDonald’s from time to time as it offers childhood nostalgia.  I love ice cream cones, cookies, dark chocolate, and a dirty gin martini.

TBB: What are your favorite sounds, tastes, smells and textures in the kitchen?
CH: Sound; Meat searing on a cast iron skillet.  Taste; Most things I cook.  Smell; Bread baking in the oven or onion and garlic browning in butter.  Texture; Potato chips.

For recipes, tips, writing and a whole lot more, check out Christine’s blog, the Blind Cook.

Sense of Style: Meet the "Lady Liberty"

The Fourth of July is all about celebrating, fun and the spirit of summer. You get to spend the day with friends and family at great parties and barbeques. No matter where you spend your Fourth there are three guarantees: good company, stellar fireworks and a patriotic color scheme. Head to toe red, white and blue is a given; everyone from your grandma to your unstylish co-workers will be starspangled. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, it’s just all about doing it right. You want to stand out on the Fourth; show your independence as we celebrate ours. That’s where we come in…

The aptly named Lady Liberty will be the centerpiece of this cool summer look. Like all of our shirts, the Lady Liberty is made Stateside. We recommend pairing it with simple white denim shorts, torn or otherwise. You will be thanking yourself for going with a pair of simple navy flats, considering you will be on your feet a lot, having a blast. To beat the heat and sunshine, sport a cool pair of shades and a strapback hat that compliments the Lady Liberty nicely. A red purse or clutch will be essential for holding all your stuff if you plan on hitting the town after the fireworks are over. If you prefer short sleeves,we also have the Soho in stock on our website.

Check out some members of the Two Blind Brothers team rocking these subtle, stylish, summer looks. Click here to get your shirt and complete your look.