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impact the future of an adult with disabilities

different abilities,

endless opportunities

aZul - Fashion, Art & Design, Inc. empowers adults of all abilities and their caregivers using Fashion Design, Industrial Design, and art as a path to achieve artistic recognition, dignity and financial independence.

We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to providing vocational, post secondary programs for adults with down syndrome, autism, and related disabilities as well as their caregivers. Our signature program “Follow the Thread” offers tools in sustainable fashion design, branding and small business training. Leading participants to become entrepreneurs.​ ​

Our 5 month alternative design programs are flexibly tailored and emphasize team collaboration betweeen a Creative (person with disabilities) and Collaborator (the caregiver). While transforming family dynamics, and providing creative training, workforce skills development, interactive activities, and entrepreneurship support. At the end of our programs, we connect our teams with local venues to ​showcase and market their own brand as an artist and business venture.


Young adults with developmental disabilities (ie. autism, down syndrome, and similar disabilities) transition from high school feeling lost because our system offers so few vocational/job development opportunities specific to their needs.  Leading them to experience feelings of depression and depending on social services and their family/caregiver to survive. For these families it is challenging to find affordable and appropriate professional development programs to help adults with disabilities find their purpose.

We are looking to minimize the risk of depression and poverty in adults with disabilities, and their family members who are affected, as an extension of the challenges experienced due to the lack of opportunities.



Young adults with disabilities 
are on the rise as entrepeneurs.

Our empowering art and design programs foster artistic recognition, dignity, and personal empowerment leading to opportunities for the financial independence of Creatives and Collaborators.

We believe that all abilities can succeed. So our programs teach the tools of the trade, with focus on real-life experience to motivate and empower teams through art exhibitions, runways, local events and business partnerships.



Nurturing team values and mindsets.
Collaborators are learning at the same time with their Creatives and are guided with cooperative interaction to create and grow together.

“Learn it and use it” approach concepts are introduced. Followed by skill practice sessions with a professional application and simple daily life application. Along with supporting each Creative individually, we also offer free, professional parent counseling support to transform relationships into empowering collaborations. 


1 in 4 adults have a disability.
Our sessions are personally tailored 
and designed to teach techniques in group 
or individual settings. Such as using visual aids (pictograms) and natural, sensory stimulus.



Purposeful sustainability.
We highly encourage an eco-friendly mindset by reviving recycled objects with inexpensive supplies and practical techniques to create high quality pieces of art for display and wear.



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.”

aZul's vision.

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.


Teenage girl in wheelchair smiling

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.


Many families contact us searching for opportunities to achieve their dreams and grow independently after their relatives age out of the school system. 


In response to high demand, we’ve created a sponsor waiting list membership that allows Creatives to participate in the introductory portion of our program. Then, we connect them with sponsors like you to support the tuition our Creatives need to achieve their dreams in Fashion Design, Industrial Design and Arts.

A full tuition of a 5 month design program empowers adults with developmental disabilities and their caregivers on the path to achieve financial independence, dignity and artistic recognition. You can sponsor tuition for an adult with disabilities at aZul - Fashion, Art & Design, Inc., and support their brighter future in fashion design, industrial design, and art!

teenage girl with hands to face in expression of overwhelming happiness with women smiling big while holding up scholarship certificate
2 women and 1 man smiling while holding up paper saying "Scholarship Certificate"

aZul - Fashion, Art & Design offers a scholarship to an adult with disabilities and his/her caregiver per program season. Join our sponsoring team too! Get in touch with us to learn more!

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