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Meet Megan DeJarnett. Megan DeJarnett is a self-published children’s books author and founder of No Such Thing, a company dedicated to “redefining purpose by removing defining labels.”
Megan DeJarnett and Livingwith Spinal Muscular Atrophy
At the age of two, Megan was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), a genetic neuromuscular disease that causes the muscles to atrophy and weaken over time. There is no cure for SMA, but DeJarnett says, “It was never about my disability, it was about living my best life.” DeJarnett’s top aspirations in life were always to get married, have children, and become a business owner. After getting married and giving birth to two children, she says that there was still something missing. “I have a very entrepreneurial-esque about me. I wanted to start something, and I knew I had something that was ready to be birthed, but my whole business didn’t come to be until I was a parent of a child with special needs.”
No Such Thing’s Beginnings
“One day we were sitting, eating lunch—I had a three-year-old and a five-year-old, and my five-year-old is the one with a disability. The younger one looks at me and says, ‘Mommy why are you and my brother not normal?’ and you know, they’ve been around me their whole lives. They’re climbing up on my wheelchair, we’re strapping them to my chair, that’s all they knew. But for this moment, he stepped back for a second and realized that there was a difference.
“I’ve been around kids my whole life. I taught in a school, so I’ve come up with ways to dance around the question and make it more comfortable for everyone in the room. But here I had the opportunity to teach my kid that ‘Hey, first of all, there is no such thing as normal. Everybody has something, everyone is different.’ and that’s truly where the name came from.”
At speaking events, DeJarnett wished she had something tangible for people to take with them. She wanted to provide families, and especially children, with a resource. “I just felt this tug in me, saying ‘Start with a children’s book. Start super simple. Who knows what it’ll evolve into?’” DeJarnett wanted to provide a way for families to teach their children about diversity in the world, that difference is in everyone. To show what true acceptance and inclusion means.
Challenges and Obstacles
When reflecting on obstacles or challenges she faced as a disabled entrepreneur, DeJarnett says that she’s used to having to pivot things in life and adjust to make things work. “Anything is possible, you’ll just have to do it differently. You can still accomplish it, it’ll just look different. I take that philosophy into the business.”
She’s also had to deal with people’s misconceptions and assumptions about her disability. “Assumptions, whether with good intentions or bad, they just happen because people don’t know. I’ve had people who, just by looking at me, think that I have an intellectual disability just because I’m in a wheelchair. It’s not out of ugliness or malice, they just don’t know. That is our job as creatives to put it out there more so people can see it. If we can introduce this and teach inclusion at a young age, we won’t have such a hard time as adults.”
Advice for Others
As for advice for other disabled entrepreneurs, DeJarnett says to take everything one day at a time. “Don’t feel like you need to accomplish everything all at once. I think that goes for anybody wanting to start a business whether you’re disabled or not. You gotta be creative, and sometimes you will be the one that paves the way because maybe it hasn’t been done before.”
In the future, DeJarnett aspires to see her brand picked up by a larger company to spread her message across the world. “I would love to see our book around the world in Barnes and Noble and other bookstores or in Target where more people can access it. I want to be an active voice in the community.”
Have Megan DeJarnett’s words inspired you? Let us know down in the comments.
This article originally published on GREY Journal.