Our Team

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Maria O'Sullivan-Abeyratne - Founder/CEO

Maria is a fashion design and garment technology student based in London. She has competed in sports throughout her life, including 11 years as part of the young rider dressage team, triathlons and full and half marathons, she is also a self-confessed terrible mountain biker. The highlight of Maria's career was winning the overall title at British Young Rider Dressage Festival in 1998.

 

Maria has suffered with chronic pain all of her life, always being told it was "wear and tear of the daily equestrian activities". She was completely unaware of her invisible illness. Her health took a turn in 2014 and she was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis, a rare and painful autoimmune condition causing degeneration and fusion of the sacroiliac, hips and spine, as well as spinal osteoarthritis, nerve pain, and all of the other wide ranging side effects of the condition. There is no cure for the disease. Maria was also diagnosed with Combined ADHD and has seen first hand how a lack of diagnosis can deeply affect people throughout their lives.

Maria found easy access clothing difficult to find, and the more research completed, the more frustrating it became. She founded Adaptista through her love of fashion and her desire to make adaptive clothing more accessible for people living with long term illness, disabilities and mobility issues. A vocal advocate for disability and chronic illness, she hopes to encourage the designers of the future to create beautiful and exciting adaptive clothing, footwear and accessories by listening to the voices and real needs of the adaptive community.

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Jonathan Abeyratne - Chief Financial Officer

Jon is a chartered accountant with over 13 years’ experience within finance. His role as CFO focuses on overseeing the company’s financial operations. 

 

Having worked within professional services, banking and more recently data & analytics, Jon took the bold step of working with Adaptista with the aim of making clothing more inclusive for people with disabilities, the elderly or those suffering with chronic pain. He strongly believes that fashion should not be categorised and should be inclusive for everyone.

He is a passionate champion for inclusion and, with his brother who suffered from mental health issues (and who has sadly passed away) Jon has seen first-hand how people with disabilities or illnesses can be adversely affected in terms of accessibility to services. A second dan black belt in Karate, Jon spends his spare time running outdoors (slowly) and loves swimming. In his teens, Jon was regularly competing with his brother at several swimming galas for his local club. 

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Jasmine de Silva - Creative Director

Combining retrofuturism, hyperreal aesthetics, pop-art style colours and diamond studded female bodies, Jasmine De Silva playfully satirises the desire for physical perfection, holding up a mirror to our own dehumanising obsession with appearances, aiming to expose society’s unrealistic standards of beauty. Jasmine studied at the London College of Fashion, completing a BA and MA in Fashion Photography. Upon graduating in 2019, Jasmine has won awards for emerging talent in both Photography and Directing.

Meet Our Advisors

 
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Timothy Parent
President Harvard Alumni for Fashion, Luxury and Retail and Co-Founder and Communications Director for Harvard Alumni for Climate and the Environment.

Timothy works at the intersection of fashion, environmentalism, and DEIB. He is also a Board Member for the Seattle World School Fund - a school that educates 350 immigrants and refugees from over 40 countries. Additionally, Timothy is an advisor for digital fashion house Auroboros.

Alison Lewy, MBE
Author, Social Entrepreneur and Founder of Fashion Angel. 

Alison ran her design and manufacturing business for 15 years producing under her own label while consulting on sourcing and production for designers. Alison was Commercial Director of the Fashion & Textile Museum from 2006, which she positioned as a hub for the fashion and textile sector, and ran mentoring and business support programmes as part of the museum’s offer, as well as setting up the [email protected] to showcase new designers.

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Drs Andrew & Caren Nurcombe-Thorne
Chiropractor and General Practitioner

Andrew and Caren are from South Africa and relocated to the UK in 2004. Caren is a registered GP and Andrew is a registered Chiropractor. Caren is a member of the medical committee for a children’s health charity. The couple have two daughters, the eldest was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a baby and is wheelchair dependant. They are very excited to be able to contribute to Adaptista and developing adaptive clothing for all.

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Tony Ryan

Start up company expert. Director of Smorgasbord

Tony has spent his working life advising companies and for the last 16 years has specialised in working with startups and SMEs. Tony was a director of two listed companies and also a director at Deloitte Consulting and KPMG Consulting. Tony has delivered hundreds of business clinics for SMEs in conjunction with banks, local councils and other support organisations. Tony is a survivor of Cancer himself and passionate about helping those who are currently undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

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Sangeeta Pillai
Broadcaster, Inclusion Activist, Writer, Founder of Soul Sutras

Sangeeta founded the South Asian feminist network Soul Sutras and creator of the multi-award-winning Masala Podcast on Spotify, a show for South Asian womxn dealing with sex, sexuality, shame, periods & other taboos. She created Masala Monologues, a series of writing workshops & theatre shows in UK & US and was featured in the Evening Standard, Eastern Eye, BBC Radio, Brown Girl Magazine and has been a writer for over 20 years.

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Deborah Andrews

Illustrator and Lecturer at Morley College of Fashion.

A freelance illustrator and founder of Penta'paper, a site specific illustration installation, Deborah has been commissioned to work for companies such as Vital Arts, Barbican Centre, the Big Draw, Guardian Newspapers and Latitude Festival. With over 20 years of experience teaching fashion and illustration, she teaches at the Goodlife Centre and Morley College London. She is passionate about arts, education and gender equality. Deborah has two children, her son was born with 22Q and from her personal experiences of trying to find sensory sympathetic clothing she is excited to advise Adaptista on sensory needs and gender neutral clothing.

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Cynthia Fortlage
Award-Winning Gender Identity Speaker, Consultant & Coach for Women & 2SLGBTQIA+ persons.

With 30 years experience as an information technology executive in Canada, Cynthia has held various board roles throughout her career, including past President of the Board for Rainbow Resource Center in Canada, Board Chair for feminist org. Women’s March Canada and led its merger with Women’s March Global. In 2016 Ms Fortlage came to terms with a 46-year denial of her gender identity. In 2017 she started CAF Services as a Gender Identity Coach for Women & 2SLGBTQIA+ persons. 

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Paul Grant
Expert in investment funding and start up growth. Founder of The Funding Game

Paul founded and ran a London-wide catering business for corporate and retail markets for seven years and now assists many companies at early and growth stages. A former director of Capital Partners, and more recently an associate director of BA Capital Ltd. and Bergstrom Capital, Paul is also the founder of The Funding Game.

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Olivia Haywood
Brand consultant to start up & SME's. Expert in brand strategy and design.