Fashion Designer with Down Syndrome Lives Her Dream

A Nova Scotian woman with Down syndrome is getting set to live the dream of fashion designers everywhere.

27-year-old Marie Webb will be a part of a pre-Emmy Awards gifting lounge in Los Angeles in advance of the award show, wearing her trademark vibrant fashions and offering up pocket squares she’s created to the nominated actors and actresses.

Webb is one of eight artists in residence at her north-end Halifax space at Wonder’neath Open Studio. It is here that she plans, draws, colors, and felts templates for her Lemondade Stand Designs brand. The fashion designs are sold on sites such as Etsy and Shopify.

Webb’s work was noticed online by a marketing company organizing a pre-Emmy gift suite. She was invited to bring her designs to celebrities and the press.

Webb’s mother Renee Forrestall is a well-known painter and art instructor. She sits across from her daughter, and scans and prepares her designs in Photoshop. Forrestall then sends the designs to a manufacturer in Montreal where the templates are applied to silks and satins.

“Marie is very optimistic and very positive and always look at the positive side. It’s just the way she is. I think that comes out in her work that’s colorful, joyful, playful,” Forrestall says.

“And cuteful,” Marie added. “[The designs are] in my mind. Angels are in my dreams.”

Believe it or not, this is not Webb’s first star-studded event. She attended the International Film Festival last year in Toronto, and was also invited to the Golden Globes and Cannes Film Festival. However, she was forced to decline those invites due to her diagnosis of an undisclosed serious illness. She was hospitalized for a month this past winter.

“We’d been cruising along fairly happily, blissfully unaware that Marie was actually quite ill. It did hit us like a ton a bricks and we weren’t sure, when we were in there, whether we were coming out,” Forrestall said.

Webb, however, kept a smile on her face while designing dresses from her bed.

“She was drawing things and I was putting them up on the walls and all the nurses were coming in,” said Forrestall. “She made it a party room.”

The family is still administering medication daily. However, the invite to the pre-Emmy event came after Webb’s return home. Since Webb was in stable condition, the family knew the trip was possible.

Despite the roller coaster ride, Webb has turned a creative hobby into a potential career, now spending most of her days designing.

“This is so Marie has a real sense of the power of her work. The impact,” she said. “Where your work can go when you design something on paper, this can become a real thing and flourish and thrive.”

The Emmys will be taking place on Sunday, September 17.

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This piece is based on an article by David Irish for the CBC, which can be seen here.

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Mike Nickas received his Bachelor of Arts in Film and Multimedia Studies at Florida Atlantic University in December of 2015, and is currently pursuing an education in the fields of neuropsychology and special education. He is the host of the online news show The Week in Neurodiversity, and author of the column Notions by Nickas. He also currently works as a camp counselor at Dr. Mike Rizzo’s Child Provider Specialists in Weston, FL.
Author Image

Mike Nickas

Mike Nickas received his Bachelor of Arts in Film and Multimedia Studies at Florida Atlantic University in December of 2015, and is currently pursuing an education in the fields of neuropsychology and special education. He is the host of the online news show The Week in Neurodiversity, and author of the column Notions by Nickas. He also currently works as a camp counselor at Dr. Mike Rizzo’s Child Provider Specialists in Weston, FL.

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