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Pictured: Marissa Perez with Michael Graves Design Quick-Fold Cane
Today we welcome Marissa to our Q&A Blog with Michael Graves Design. We first came across Marissa when our Chief Design Officer Rob Van Varick met her at Selma Blair's book tour. He knew right away she’d be a great fit and we began to collaborate immediately. She has done a photoshoot with us, as well as collabs on social media. There will also be an upcoming giveaway on Instagram so keep an eye out! Keep reading to learn more about Marissa, her experience with Michael Graves Design, and even learn about her fashion inspiration and personal style!
Tell us about yourself, what’s your story?
My name is Marissa Perez, I live in New York City and I have Multiple Sclerosis. I have been living with Multiple Sclerosis since the age of 14 but was finally diagnosed in 2012 after many years of being dismissed. As my MS progressed I found myself needing the help of mobility aids. I resisted the change for many years and struggled through the world attempting to look “normal”.
In my advocacy I strive to change the perception of mobility aids and their use. I struggled internally for many years. Then one day I had a photo taken of myself holding my cane, the impact was astronomical. It was then that I realized the importance of mobility aid representation in the media, as well as the need for change in how mobility aids are perceived and portrayed. I want to show other young people that an aid not only makes the world easier to maneuver safely but that they can also be an empowering and beautiful accessory. I hope to be an example and show them that we are not “less than” because we have an illness or disability.
As an advocate for MS, I hope to raise much-needed awareness for this and other invisible illnesses. I aim to challenge the idea of what “sick” looks like through my modeling. I hope to empower other women with MS, chronic illnesses and disabilities, as well as empower myself. I want to help them realize that they can still feel and be beautiful.
We are not “less than” for needing an aid.
How did it lead you to MGD?
When I heard Selma Blair would be in the city for her book tour nothing was going to stop me from attending. It was at this event where I met Rob (Rob Van Varick, Chief Design Officer of MGD), he asked me how I liked the cane I had and I instantly said “I hate it!” And that simple statement led me to learn about MGD and their mission, and how the design of mobility aids came to be for them. When I did get to try one of the Quick-Fold Canes it truly felt life changing to me, I could adjust the height to fit my specific needs, I could fold it with magnets, it was sturdy and well crafted. The canes I previously had looked geriatric and or flimsy at best. The MGD cane hit all the practical needs and encompassed it in a beautiful and unique design.
What is one thing you’d like our readers to know?
This company is a unique voice within the disability community, for the past few years my advocacy through my content has been about changing the perspective of invisible illnesses and mobility aids, and MGD as a company truly cares to change this perspective.
Working with them in any capacity is a genuine honor, I want others to know that they truly seek to understand the needs of the disabled community and not just make generic products. They not only recognize that their products need to deliver on their needs but that they need to do so with a unique style and beauty. They understand that we are all unique and have different needs, they’re products fit individuals of all ages, all while looking exceptionally cool. They are a special voice advocating for change.
What do you love most about the company Michael Graves Design?
What truly sets this company apart from others is that they seek out and genuinely listen to feedback from the disability community. They don’t just make canes, they make a difference in this community. I felt as if my feedback and thoughts actually mattered to them and genuinely made a difference in how they design or run their company. I felt seen and heard and as if my needs mattered in that moment. Many times disabled people get brushed aside, not listened to, we get talked to. However, seeing how my feedback mattered, it was at that moment that I knew this company was different.
What do you use the C-Grip Cane for vs. the Quick-Fold?
I tend to carry my Quick-Fold Cane in my backpack in case I may need it, and knowing it's there I never have to worry when I’m out and my balance is off, and no matter what I know the black will match any outfit. The C-Grip design makes me feel extra stylish, and is a head turner for all the right reasons! It’s practical how it hangs on surfaces and makes it easy to get up from a seated position, I always feel so confident with it.
What do the Michael Graves Design canes bring to the table that others were lacking?
Their canes bring style with their unique colors and designs, yet have sturdy materials, and magnetic design that have changed how I think about canes. No matter the outfit there’s either a quick fold cane or C-grip cane that will match! They go from glamorous to edgy, from subtle to statement pieces, they really are that multifaceted!
What is your go-to outfit to pair with the MGD Canes?
With my Sunbaked Clay C-Grip I love to pair it with feminine dresses and sandals
My Peppercorn Black Quick-Fold Cane goes beautifully with anything, but I love how it looks with my bell bottom jeans
Which color cane is your favorite?
These two colors are so unique and beautiful, they can go from subtle simple everyday looks to sexy bold statement pieces.
Who is your fashion inspiration?
Lana Del Rey
How would you describe your personal style?
My style ranges but the best description would be a mix of feminine retro-chic with a bit of edge.
Follow along with us on social @michaelgravesdesign