Jody Leigh, a Toronto-based fashion designer, created a fun and quirky clothing line to raise more awareness around the gluten free lifestyle – Jody Leigh for Gluten Free. You don’t often see someone wearing a shirt that trumpets what food allergy they are living with, however, Jody Leigh for Gluten Free does exactly that, in a whimsical fashion with awesome phrases. I think that it is a great way to promote awareness about gluten allergies, but to also help shine light on the fact that living gluten free isn’t as bad as people make it out to be.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Jody about her experience with the gluten free lifestyle and the idea behind her fantastic clothing line. Enjoy!
Megan: When were you diagnosed with Celiac disease?
Jody: 4 years ago
M: Had you been having symptoms for a long time? What process did you go through to figure out your diagnosis?
J: I have experienced ‘gut’ issues since elementary school when I was initially diagnosed with IBS. Years later, when I was 25 I became quite ill and found out I had Crohn’s disease. During the testing I was supposed to go for a blood test to see if I had Celiac disease, but ended up putting it off. It wasn’t until after my Crohn’s diagnosis that I went for the blood test (and a biopsy to ensure accuracy) and found out I was 2 for 2!
M: What were your initial thoughts when you first found out?
J: My initial thought was ‘WHAT CAN I EAT??’ I remember going home and eating an apple because I had no idea what was ‘gluten free’.
M: Did you find it hard to begin a brand new lifestyle change?
J: At the beginning I found it difficult, because I didn’t know a lot about it and the products available. After 4 years though, I consider myself to be somewhat of a ‘gluten free’ expert and feel very comfortable and confident leading a gluten free lifestyle.
M: What is your favourite gluten free product(s)?
J: There are so many! I love Udi’s. It took me forever to find a good bread and I found that with this brand.
M: Is there a specific restaurant you like to eat out at?
J: Again, there are so many! I do love the Kensington Cornerstone in Kensington Market. The menu is completely gluten free! I also love Magic Oven; their pizzas are so yummy and they offer quality ingredients.
M: When did you come up with the idea ‘Jody Leigh for Gluten Free’?
J: I used to have a women’s wear line that was called jody leigh and the ‘g f yourself’ t-shirt idea came to me soon after my diagnosis. When I finally decided to launch the brand, the name came easy to me, maybe because it rhymes!
M: What are your hopes/goals for Jody Leigh for Gluten Free?
J: I would love to expand this brand so that it can be worn all over the world. IIt’s for a great cause (with a portion of my proceeds going to the Canadian Celiac Association), and people should be proud to be gluten free! For many it may be an intolerance or a lifestyle change, but for those of us who have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease why not be happy about an illness that you can control with diet and without medication!
M: What products do you currently have?
J: At the moment I offer men’s and women’s t-shirts and a women’s french terry sweatshirt.
M: Are there certain products you hope to have in the future?
J: I do have hopes to expand into the children’s wear market this year.
M: Where can people purchase your product?
J: jody leigh for gluten free is available in Toronto at the Arts Market. There is a location in Leslieville (1114 Queen Street East), and one opening Saturday, June 22nd at 846 College Street at Ossington. I also am in the process of opening an online store which will launch this summer.
Visit jody leigh for gluten free online to shop her clothing line! Spread awareness and live confidently with your gluten allergy!
Follow her on Twitter @JL_GlutenFree
Follow her on Instagram @Jody_Leigh
Like her on Facebook ‘JodyLeighForGlutenFree’