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Emily DuBois (left) and sister Rebecca (right) debuted their idea for Lucky Luc, an inclusive clothing company, for the first time at the Fallon Challenge. The inspiration behind the company came from their 13-year-old sister, Lucy.

Lucy DuBois skis, wake surfs and rides horses, but every day, she struggles to get dressed.

As her sister, JMU junior business major Rebecca DuBois, watched 13-year-old Lucy cope with the effects of Down Syndrome on her motor skills, she wondered if there was a way to make Lucy’s and others’ lives easier. 

Rebecca’s inquiry led her to create an adaptive clothing business, Lucky Luc, which she said she started building during her freshman year of high school. 

Six years later, on Nov. 1, 2022, Rebecca and her other sister, freshman business major Emily DuBois, pitched their business venture to a panel of judges and won the seventh annual Fallon Challenge. They tearfully walked off the stage with a $1,000 scholarship — which they’ll use to make a website and patent the company — provided by JMU’s Rodney J. Fallon Scholarship Fund to take the first step in turning their dream into a reality.

According to The Fallon Challenge website, the scholarship event is a “Shark Tank”-style competition created in honor of the late Fallon, an entrepreneur, a man of faith and a father of three JMU College of Business graduates. One of Fallon’s daughters, Meredythe, said her father believed in including everyone, so the competition is open to students of all majors and grade levels.

Khalil Garriott (’04), the lead judge, announced the winner at the event.

“My fellow judges and I evaluated the finalists based on four criteria: passion, viability, creativity and presentation,”Garriott said in an email. “All of the student entrepreneurs were so impressive in different ways, but one pitch in particular stood out to the judges as a most deserving recipient of the seventh annual Rodney J. Fallon Scholarship.”

That deserving pitch was Lucky Luc. 

The DuBois’ business is an adaptive clothing company created to empower individuals with gross motor skill delays and special needs, Rebecca said. 

The clothing line combines sensory-friendly materials and independence-creating features such as replacing zippers and buttons with magnets and buckles. It also includes jeans with elastic waistbands and shirts designed to be worn inside out and backwards, so no matter how it’s put on, it’s correct.

The benefits don’t stop there. 

“The unemployment rate for those with disabilities is double the rate than those without, which is why Lucky Luc is committed to hiring individuals with special needs as well as creating leadership positions for them,” Emily said. 

Rebecca also said she wants Lucky Luc to be more than just a clothing company. 

“We want Lucky Luc customers to know that not only is our clothing for them, but our company is for them as well,” she said. “We are more than just adaptable clothing. We’re filling the gaps in the market to empower individuals by building confidence and independence through fashion.”

Judge Katie Carlton and program director of Founder’s Mark said Lucky Luc struck a chord with her. 

“I have a son who is on the autism spectrum and he’s 9 years old and we still help him a lot with dressing,” Carlton said. “So if there’s something out there I would have found it by now ... and I have not seen something with clothing that is out there.” 

Additionally, Garriott said Lucky Luc’s pitch “tugged at my heartstrings.”

“I have a child who has/had gross motor delays, so it had relatability on a personal level to me,” Garriott wrote. “Also, to watch the DuBois girls overcome technological hurdles during their pitch and deliver it fluidly spoke to their poise and composure. Many of us in the room either shed tears or had trouble holding them back.” 

What stood out to the judges, especially to president and CEO of the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce, Christopher Quinn, was the sense of community and family involved, he said.

“It’s unique when you’ve got your entire family behind it … The three sisters together all seem to complement each other very well,” Quinn said. “It was very clear with their project they were going to run through a brick wall to get this done. The determination of all of them was there.” 

Lucy stood beside her sisters on stage during the presentation at The Fallon Challenge and, as the inspiration behind it all, Rebecca and Emily named her as one of the CEOs of the company. 

Lucy said Lucky Luc makes her feel special. When she stood on stage with her sisters during their presentation, she said it made her feel “happy, excited and relaxed.”

“Lucy inspires me to be more accepting and loving and kind with my words because the way that she presents herself as one of the most kind and loving people,” Emily said. “One of my goals is, ‘How can I be more like Lucy?’ She’s honestly just inspired me to be a better person and also to handle my emotions better.” 

Rebecca said watching her sister overcome challenges has inspired her to want to make a difference in life. 

Lucy calls herself brave and encourages others to “be brave,” too.

“I can overcome any challenge that comes my way because my life is probably a million times easier than Lucy’s life is, but she’s still overcoming all of these challenges,” Rebecca said. 

Upon winning, Rebecca said she wouldn’t have worked on her idea now if it wasn’t for The Fallon Challenge.

“Meredythe came into my class and she was like, if you have something that keeps you up at night and that’s your passion and that’s what’s lighting the fire within you, then you need to pursue that idea,” Rebecca said. “This has been my dream, my passion.”  

Moving forward, Rebecca and Emily said they plan on continuing to take necessary steps of patenting Lucky Luc, including finding designers and creating a website and a social media presence. They plan to grow their business and support the special needs community, empowering people to be like Lucy and never give up. 

“Maybe one day Lucy will go to JMU and be The Fallon Challenge winner too,” Rebecca said.

Contact Caroline Stoaks at stoaksca@dukes.jmu.edu. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter and Instagram @Breeze_Culture.