Cristina Might is following her calling to Welcomed Co.
“I love you just the way you are,” said Cristina Might. This mother of three, industrial designer, and disability advocate is on a mission to make the world feel welcomed.
That’s because she knows all too well what it’s like to not feel that way. Not long after her first child Bertrand “Buddy” Might was born in 2007, he started experiencing health issues. It took years—and endless tests and procedures—to determine the condition causing Buddy’s symptoms, which included communication and mobility issues, seizures, and impaired liver function. “He ended up being the first person in the world diagnosed with his particular genetic disorder,” said Might. She left her career in industrial design to care for her son and concentrate on rare disease and patient advocacy.
The experience of caring for a child with a disability helped Might come to two realizations. The first was the need for inclusion. For years, it was painfully clear there was a stigma around being differently abled. “Oftentimes, Buddy would be treated like he was a piece of furniture,” said Might. That changed when their family moved to Alabama in 2017. A self-described person from the “Deep South,” Might didn’t fully understand Southern hospitality until that point. “I found people who truly embraced our family and gave my son the opportunity to be a kid,” said Might. “That impressed upon me how amazing it feels when you are truly seen and welcomed.”
The second realization was the need for growth in accessibility. Most of the equipment Buddy needed was clearly not designed with young people in mind. At best, the items were drab, and at worst, they were scary to Buddy and his younger siblings Victoria and Winston. Ever the resourceful designer, Might retrofitted Buddy’s hospital bed, making it look fun and inviting. She modified his clothing to make it easier for him to get dressed. Because Buddy was passionate about fish but couldn’t access the aquarium, she had a 120-gallon fish tank custom-built, so he could roll up to it from his wheelchair and feed his fish.
Might remained focused on patient advocacy while her eldest son was alive, but she herself became ill and was later diagnosed with an autoimmune condition. Buddy passed away in October 2020 at the age of 12. At first, Might tried to continue her work, even helping start a nonprofit for people with undiagnosed medical conditions in Buddy’s memory. Her grief and stress took a toll, and she needed to find a new way to make an impact.
To do that, Might considered what had made Buddy happiest. It wasn’t the advocacy; it was all the ways in which she listened to his needs and interests and improved his daily life. She wanted to do that for other people, too. With that—and her two realizations—in mind, she recently launched Welcomed Co., a lifestyle business that reframes accessibility and inclusion as Southern-inspired hospitality.
Might has found a way forward by making a return to her original career path—industrial design. The company focuses on creating products that “consider the need for love and belonging, and aesthetics and self-actualization, not just safety and function,” said Might. She believes that more mindfully crafted products will increase adoption by those reluctant to use existing equipment. “There are so many manufacturers in this space, yet nobody is doing this in a way that is preserving people’s dignity and humanity.”
There’s also an educational component to Welcomed Co., which efforts to remove the stigma around disability. “Disability isn’t scary. It’s human,” said Might. It will touch all our lives at some point. In countries like the U.S. where the average life expectancy is above 70 years old, individuals spend an average of 11.5% of their life span living with disabilities, per Disabled World. “Why should we just survive these inevitable things? Why can’t we thrive?” In support of that effort, it is a priority for Welcomed Co. to partner with and employ people of all abilities at all levels.
Might’s dream for Welcomed Co. would be to make it possible for a child with a disability to be able to effortlessly visit a friend’s house, or an elderly relative to be included in a family holiday celebration despite mobility issues. “I hope that we will alleviate the need to be anxious about a future or depressed about a past,” said Might. “I hope we’ll help people be able to savor the moment.”