Established in 2017, Sheffield based talent agency known as Zebedee Management, was the first in the UK exclusively for individuals with physical and learning disabilities. The founders are sisters-in-law, Zoe Proctor and Laura Johnson, who sought to provide a solution for the lack of representation of people with disabilities within the fashion and advertising industry.
With Proctor being a former model and currently a performing arts teacher for young adults with special needs and Johnson being a social worker, the founders are both experienced individuals when it comes to working with people with disabilities.
Since its launch, Zebedee has recruited a large number of models of all ages from the US and the UK. They also have an impressive range of clientele including Gucci, Tommy Hilfiger, Hugo Boss, Nike, H&M, River Island and many more.
A few months ago in June, Gucci had posted an image on Instagram of Ellie Goldstein, a Zebedee British model with down syndrome, wearing the brand’s mascara product which has become one of their most liked posts by more than 860,000 people.
Moreover, the release of eco-friendly baby wipes by Pura featured babies with special needs in their advertisement, Lenny Rooney and Willow Welbourn, signed by Zebedee.
On top of successfully sourcing paid employment for people with disabilities and providing regular workshops, they also host their own campaigns, runway shows and social events which promote an inclusive and positive community for these individuals.
In 2018, River Island collaborated with Ditch the Label for an anti-bullying campaign which aimed to celebrate diversity and acceptance of all children by including Zebedee children models diagnosed with cerebral palsy and down syndrome.
The campaign is especially significant as research has indicated that children with disabilities face 1.7 times greater violence than their peers without disabilities annually. Thus, it is crucial that society puts in the effort to build a safe and encouraging community for these people.
Furthermore, the World Health Organisation has reported that people with disabilities represent at least 15 percent of the world population and the number is expected to increase. The prospect of numbers increasing in addition to the presence of an already relatively high number calls for a push for more agencies to follow suit of Zebedee.
Although inclusiveness and diversity has increasingly gained importance and improved overtime, it has yet to be extended to people with disabilities. Thus, it is evident that more attention should be focused on this and actions should be taken to change this.
Header image: Zebedee Management.