Michael Girgis was born and raised in Bakersfield – and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Bakersfield has been a place of support and encouragement for Michael, who has Down syndrome. Michael is a burst of sunshine to everyone he meets, whether in the local Down syndrome community, in his faith community at St. Demiana Coptic Orthodox Church or among small-business owners in Bakersfield.
His positivity and enthusiasm for life are unmatched, and his genuine desire to make people happy led him to start his own apparel business, M. Girgis Designs. Though his original model of creating custom hats with patches worked well in the company’s beginnings in 2017, Michael had bigger plans for his business.
This year, Michael has been working hard to rebrand M. Girgis Designs and rethink his business model. As a self-declared advocate for those with Down syndrome, Michael wants to create quality hats with a message of love and positivity.
“Yahoo!” exclaimed Michael. “I can’t believe everything that is happening with my business.”
In this exciting season, Michael is launching a new collection of hats called Upside – just in time for Down Syndrome Awareness Month. Upside is all about finding the beauty in Down syndrome. Michael hopes to help his customers embrace his own contagious positivity and find upsides in their own lives.
Bakersfield has proven to be the best possible setting for a company like M. Girgis Designs. Its inhabitants are generous and kind and they truly care about people. Throughout the rebranding process, Michael has most enjoyed being more involved in Bakersfield’s thriving community of entrepreneurs and advocates.
In creating Upside, Michael has partnered with local businesses, become a regular in local coffee shops and collaborated with other locals with Down syndrome to turn Upside into a project that will leave a lasting impact on the community.
The success of M. Girgis Designs not only showcases Michael’s abilities, but it reveals a heart that the people of Bakersfield have for their neighbors with disabilities. Michael is not the only person with disabilities who has big dreams and a plan to achieve them – there are so many people in our community who have the potential to do great things in Bakersfield.
People with developmental disabilities are often overlooked, but people like Michael are paving the way, proving to Bakersfield that they can do amazing things if given the chance.
Thanks to a city with an open heart for diversity, small businesses like Michael’s receive support and encouragement. As more people dream big and get the help they need to achieve their goals, our city will be better for their contributions.
If you’re interested in supporting Michael’s business and ordering an Upside hat, please visit his website at www.mgirgisdesigns.com or find him on social media @mgirgisdesigns. ￼
Alyssa Conlee is a Bakersfield local who believes in the power of community and strives to amplify the voices of others. She currently manages special projects for an employment services agency in town. The views expressed are her own.