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INDIANAPOLIS — Joyce Fields always had a passion for fashion.
“I didn’t know what type of clothing I wanted to do,” she said. “But I know I wanted it to be something totally different and unique.”
Fields went to school for fashion and fabric design. She attended the Cleveland Institute of Art and Texas Tech University.
While she always had a unique eye, she never knew it would be her son that would ultimately be her muse.
In 1990, Fields gave birth to twin boys, Taurean and Tilas Taylor. Born two months early, Tilas would live with a variety of complications, including cerebral palsy.
Constantly attached to devices like feeding tubes, trachs, pacemakers and shunts, Fields says basic tasks became exhausting. One of the hardest was getting dressed, which caused Fields to get creative in finding clothes to fit over his devices and accommodate his limbs.
“With him having cerebral palsy, his legs were like frogs just bouncing back and forth,” she said. “And you were struggling trying to put his clothes on, whether it was pants or a shirt.”
She added, “With his arms, the cerebral palsy had his joints so tight. So you had to basically oversize everything in order to put it on because he couldn’t straighten his arms straight.”
“For me, it was just hard,” she continued. “I mean really, really, really hard because nobody could understand what it was like, on a day to day basis, trying to dress him, trying to keep up with his medications, just doing something that was not of norm for me.”
Tilas died in 2008. He was 18 years old.
After his death, Fields went on to create Chea Clothing, LLC. It was an idea she originally struggled with in making it a reality.
“I didn’t feel it was any use to it because he was no longer here,” she said.
However, it was the promise she made to honor Tilas, and his memory, that kept her dream alive.
Standing for “Creative, Heavenly, Extraordinaire, Attire”, the modified and adaptive clothing line also represents Tilas’ middle name, which was “Chea.”
“I wanted it to be something representing God,” Fields said. “Something that gave something totally unique and different to his name, but yet still having a spiritual effect with it.”
Chea Clothing offers a variety of pieces catered to the person wearing them. Aimed to serve people living with special needs, each piece is designed to adapt to whatever device or diagnosis the customer may have.
“To me, it gives that sense of dignity without looking as if there’s something wrong,” said Fields. “And it gives them that normal feel, and just being able to adapt to everything out there despite what they’re going through.”
Fields has helped create bibs, onesies, shirts, weighted vests and other pieces of apparel. While she offers a variety in her collection, she also takes special requests if needed.
Right now, Fields is helping a cousin in Fort Wayne, who was diagnosed with a late stage of cancer.
“I’ve come up with a shirt that helps deal with his tubing,” she said, “He has a colostomy bag, he has a feeding tube, he has a central line. So through working with my son, this is something now that I can help somebody with.”
While the loss is still painful, Fields says the journey continues to lead her to other families and people who need her help.
“These are my Tilases now,” she said. “And helping and doing [things] for them, even though it’s not him, but it’s serving the same purpose as it did for him.”
“It gives me a sense that he’s here,” she added. “Knowing that I’m sharing him with someone else, and leaving a piece of him going out the door, where other people can say ‘that’s Chea.’”
You can find Chea Clothing at Sensory Play Date in Carmel. It’s a toy and clothing store that specializes in helping people living with disabilities and sensory issues.
Planning to expand her outreach in the future, Fields says she’s working on a variety of projects and collaborations, spanning as far as Atlanta, Georgia to Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis.
“We have so much more that’s coming, and in store, for people when it comes to looking and having clothes,” Fields hinted.
Fields plans to release a new line of clothes soon and ultimately hopes to have her own store in the future.