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A Mother’s Love & Disability Advocacy: Sylvia’s Journey

As we close out Disability Pride Month, an opportunity to acknowledge the history, achievements, and struggles of the disability community, we’re honored to share this powerful Jean Journey from passionate mother and disability advocate Sylvia Farbstein. As an immigrant to the US at a young age, Sylvia's story has been shaped by her willingness to lean into the unknown, from meeting her husband on a blind date to navigating the challenges of raising a son with a rare form of dwarfism.

With compassion and unwavering determination, Sylvia has not only helped her son Brandon live an independent and impactful life, she has also become a champion herself for celebrating uniqueness and embracing self-love. Read on to learn more about Sylvia’s journey and the lessons she has learned along the way.

Where do you call home?

Richmond, VA (moved here 29 years ago and I am still a NYer at heart!)


Tell us some things about you

My passion for embracing the unknown began as an immigrant to the US (from Israel) at the age of 5. I have since realized that my life-altering pivotal points have come from jumping in with both feet, from meeting my husband Steve on a blind date to navigating raising a son with a rare form of dwarfism. Leaping out of my comfort zone has become the norm. I attribute our 26-year-old daughter Brooke's love of international travel and 23-year-old son Brandon's sense of adventure to my demonstration of leaning into curiosity. I firmly believe our kids are always watching, no matter their age (or ours!)


At Democracy Clothing, we’re all about looking good and feeling good while doing good. What’s the “good” you’re doing in the world?

By sharing my lived experience in helping Brandon live a fulfilling and independent life, I provide a glimpse of what is possible when we turn perceived or societal limitations into opportunities. It has been a journey of adversity, pain, cyberbullying, and uncertainty for Brandon as he lives in a world not designed for someone of his short stature (3'9''). But that has given way to innovating our own solutions, charting our own course, and realizing that just because things have not been done this way before does not mean 'no'. Giving people a look behind the scenes provides a sense of hope and a world of possibilities.

As Brandon's “Momager” (professionally I am his Chief of Staff), I helped him step onto the Tedx stage at the age of 15 and launch his full-time professional speaking business at 19 years old. Our mission today is to help widen the lens through which people see others, but most importantly, themselves. We truly feel that the antidote to bullying is helping others, especially youth, learn to embrace their uniqueness and celebrate who they are. This is the message behind Brandon's second book, A Kids Book About Self Love.


What pearls of wisdom do you have for other change-making women?

The beauty of being a woman is having a stronger sense of self as we mature and feel comfortable in our own skin. We can evolve by embracing our curves, using our voice to speak up about what matters to us, and sharing our perspectives and insights. No matter how old we are, there is always an opportunity to learn something new. An open mind coupled with a solutions-focused mindset, are ageless attributes.

What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to finding clothes that look good and feel good?

Comfort and fashion do not always go hand-in-hand. As women in new seasons of life, in my case empty nester, we still want to look cute. But, we cannot stand to feel constricted and uncomfortable in the clothes we wear. Finding items that look current, make us look put together, and enable us to move freely contributes to us showing up in the world as our best selves. Since I travel the country with Brandon on a regular basis and constantly need to lift his Segway mobility device, stretch is very important in my clothing. Democracy Jeans provide the flexibility I need to move, lift, stretch, and bend.


How did you discover Democracy Clothing? How has finding Democracy Clothing empowered you?

I love feeling a sense of belonging and I participate in several online groups. One of my favorites is a Travel Fashion Girls group. I’ve learned so much from the women there. Many have shared their favorite comfortable travel attire and I kept seeing Democracy jeans being mentioned. I purchased my first pair during the pandemic in Nov. 2021. I felt so great in those jeans and took them on several work trips as Brandon and I got back on the road for his speaking engagements. I even had the pleasure of meeting singer Andy Grammer wearing those jeans to a conference we attended! 


What’s your favorite Democracy jean and what do you love about it?

I love my "Ab"solution High Rise Slim Straight Indigo Jeans - the frayed hem makes me feel current. I also love the Dark Indigo Jeggings as they are easy to dress up or down. Recently, I tried my first Democracy Scallop Fray Denim Skirt and loved that too! (Pictured: Top - Double Flutter Sleeve Ruffled Print Woven Top, Bottom"Ab"solution® Scallop Fray Hem Blue Denim Skirt)


Democracy's core values are to embrace who you are, enhance what you got, elevate your confidence, and evolve your personal style. What advice do you have for becoming more comfortable and confident with who you are?  How have you embraced who you are at this stage of your life?

One way to become more comfortable and confident with who we are is to treat ourselves with the grace and respect we give to those we love. Being intentional about our inner voice creates kindness and empathy that directly impacts how we show up. I have embraced who I am by enjoying this season of life by letting go of judgment and my inner critic, and realizing how much more adventure and joy is ahead of me!


What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of my ability to meaningfully connect with others. I seem to consistently meet 'random’ strangers with whom I have deep conversations within minutes. I feel like we are all surrounded by fascinating people and opportunities, yet sometimes we are so caught up in getting to the next place that we are distracted from the current moment. It is a beautiful feeling to help others feel seen, heard, and know that they matter. Recognizing the humanity in each other helps us filter out the noise and chaos of our complicated world.


Where do you hope your jean journey will take you next?

I love to travel with my Democracy jeans and tops, as they provide a sense of comfort while helping me feel put together. This Fall, I am embarking on a women's mission trip to Morocco and look forward to wearing my jeans on the long flights. Feeling fashionable and relaxed in our clothing provides an ease of travel, whether our excursions take us out of the country or to run errands.


Sylvia Farbstein's story, and the lessons she shares, highlight the power of authenticity, an adventurous spirit, and a mother's love and resilience. Embracing the unknown as an immigrant and navigating the challenges of raising a son with a rare form of dwarfism, Sylvia's determination is truly inspiring. She reminds us to lean into curiosity, embrace our true selves, and never underestimate the strength of a compassionate heart.


To stay connected to Sylvia, follow her on LinkedIn and learn more about her advocacy work alongside her son Brandon, at their website and on Instagram @speakbeyondwords

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