Jakayla Dixon is the yin to her Aunt Cynthia’s yang.
The two are together 24/7 – Cynthia is visually impaired, and she relies on Jakayla to help her with doctor’s appointments or grocery shopping.
Through these experiences, Dixon saw the way her aunt struggled with picking out colors for her clothes.
“I think for so long, that was just my normal,” said Dixon. “I knew that I needed to help identify canned goods and clothing colors or hold her hand when we walked in public, but that was just normal to me at a young age.”
Her aunt is just her best friend who happens to be blind, Dixon said.
Dixon, 20, started her own company called Feel the Color at the age of 15, when she was a sophomore at V.R. Eaton High School in Haslet.
Feel the Color is a company that creates embroidered fabric tags with braille and alphabet lettering for visually impaired people so they can feel the color of their clothing.
“It’s a company that has such a simple idea but completely has the power to transform so many lives and disrupt an industry and make it more accessible,” Dixon said.
Her high school offered the Academy of Business Management and Entrepreneurship. That program helped her decide to create her company.
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The idea started because Dixon often stayed with her legally blind aunt, who would constantly ask what color clothing certain items were.
“So I carried that innovation out for two years in high school under this umbrella until I graduated high school,” Dixon said. “When I went into my first year of college at Texas Christian University, that’s really when I started taking the initiative, and a lot of things started to take place.”
Feel the Color doesn’t sell specific clothing or big fashion pieces. Rather, its focus is creating a fabric tag that goes into the clothing and is a more efficient way of labeling systems. It can be ordered online.
Within the Fort Worth community, Dixon said, the goal is to go out and give tags to those visually impaired, sewing them into their clothing, ironing them on, or labeling the clothing that they do have.
The company is not just about creating embroidered fabric tags for visually imparied people, but it is also an educational tool.
Brad Chapman, co-founder of Freshlist and Dixon’s mentor, said her company is a perfect representation of who she is as a person.
“She always puts others in front of herself regardless of the circumstances so she always gets the job done,” said Chapman.
Dixon’s aunt didn’t know braille and didn’t know how to read it, so she used that as a technique to get more people who are visually impaired to use the reading system in their day-to-day life.
The COVID-19 pandemic slowed down a lot of businesses, and Dixon’s was no exception. Her business still was needed, but she had to shift the way it operated.
Right now, it is about making connections, getting back into the North Texas community and doing outreach with people who are visually impaired in Tarrant County, she said.
Her company is working with nonprofits in Fort Worth and using word of mouth to make those connections, Dixon said. The company’s goal is to partner with clothing manufacturers and get tags placed into pieces of clothing so people who are visually impaired can go shopping.
As she’s gotten older, Dixon sees disability as it relates to poverty, employment and education.
”I believe that knowing the color of clothing is a small tool toward independence and confidence, but overall Feel the Color is an important piece of addressing issues that relate to disability,” said Dixon.
Her aunt said she loved that the company was inspired by her but has the opportunity to help others who are visually impaired.
“I knew Jakayla would always go on to do amazing things. Even without Feel the Color, I would be proud,” her aunt said.
Fort Worth Report fellow Lonyae Coulter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.