about aZul - Fashion, Art & Design
aZul - Fashion, Art & Design, Inc. (formerly aZul For Better Living, Inc.) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides post secondary, alternative creative programs in design for adults with disabilities and their families.
Founder and CEO, Sandra Raffaelli, after working for years in special ed classrooms in the Chicago Public School District, started her passion to create opportunities to support individuals with disabilities for independence, dignity and self-made success. She started aZul in Bogota, Colombia in 2013. After making a great positive impact, she then was encouraged to establish the organization in the United States in West Palm Beach, Florida in 2015.
Our team consists of caring professionals and volunteers who merge their experience, design, art, social work, psychology and human rights, to create design programs for people with developmental disabilities. We are proud and committed to what aZul stands for and strive to support our Creatives and Collaborators to develop artistic strengths and self-expression, while inspiring them to create their own micro-enterprises. We continue every day to learn and make new connections, and hope to bring joy to the West Palm Beach Community.
A Dedicated Workspace
aZul - Fashion, Art & Design, Inc. now has a new home at the Extraordinary Charities Nonprofit Center! Where we have studio workshop space for Creatives and Collaborators to continue creating artistic pieces and contribute to the growth of their business ventures, after they finish their training program with us.
An Artistic Online Shop
Coming soon! aZul - Fashion, Art & Design, Inc. hopes to expand our website with an online shop to directly showcase and bring artistic pieces produced by our teams to sell, and support their livelihood. Our first items to be in stock are Apronz by aZul: your getting-stuff-done outfit. This movement was inspired by recognizing our new designers resilience during the pandemic and wanting to showcase a taste of their talents. Each will come with a uniquely created pocket, designed and made by our new designers, who then take a portion of sales from each one sold.
THE STORY OF AZUL
aZul Por Un Mejor Vivir is founded in Colombia.
After working for many years with Chicago Public Schools in special education, our President and Founder Sandra Raffaelli moved to Bogota, Colombia to start aZul. Combining her passion for art and commitment to individuals with disabilities.
“I always knew that aZul was going to be the name. I loved the sonority of the word and it being the color for autism. It represents the sky and the ocean and fluctuates from a calm mood to very strong actions.”
She realized from her experience that parents did not have the tools to continue supporting the educational process at home. And that tons of resources were available children and teens, but once aged out of high school they did not have many opportunities.
From this Sandra decided that aZul’s programs were going to be oriented to adults with developmental disabilities, and developed lesson plans for families so they could continue learning at home.
aZul's first team.
aZul welcomed its first team with Oriana Velasco Ramirez and Claudia Cecilia Ramirez Cardona. Today, Orianna is greatly empowered as a woman who has reached a lot of independence. She has traveled with her dance group to Brazil, and is still successful.
Shortly after, Sandra was serving more families, offering services in public spaces as well as their homes. All she had was a bike given to her by Northside Learning Center students in Chicago in 2012. She would commute all around Bogota
for about 36 km to support different families in a single day.