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The Indiana Daily Student

city business & economy

Student-owned clothing brand promotes learning difficulty awareness among IU and beyond

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While Alex Bean and Josh Aronow were both from the same hometown, it wasn’t until they came to IU that the two would connect over the idea for a business centered around making a difference — what would soon evolve into the Twice Exceptional brand.  

Having met through mutual friends, it wasn’t until their sophomore years that Bean and Aronow’s idea for a business venture started to blossom around a shared experience.   

“We actually ran into each other at a coffee shop, both doing separate work, but ended up sitting down together, talking and just naturally out of conversation this desire to spread awareness and educate about learning differences came up,” Aronow said. “Something just clicked in both of our minds at the same time, and we felt like we needed to create a brand centered around this mission.”  

During elementary school, both co-founders were diagnosed with various learning difficulties. Bean was diagnosed with dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia and ADD, and Aronow was diagnosed with ADHD and a language processing delay. The two felt they were able to reposition those challenges into some of their greatest strengths, but they recognized they were fortunate enough to receive the resources and aid to do so.  

They bonded over the shared belief that this support should be a standard experience for all students challenged with learning differences and were dedicated to making that more accessible 

Landing on the decision to execute their mission through a clothing brand was no challenge at all, the pair said. Aronow’s “unbelievable love for entrepreneurship” and Bean’s “deep rooted love for clothes and self” created the perfect puzzle fit for what would become Twice Exceptional, a mission-centered brand that sells hoodies, hats and T-shirts.  

However, Bean and Aronow did not define “twice exceptional” themselves. The term emerged in the 1990s, inspired by research that began in the 1970s.  

“It is for people who are gifted but also possess a learning difference,” Bean said. “So, if you have unbelievable creativity, mathematics, solving things in that nature, coupled with a difference, you are twice exceptional.”  

Abbreviated, Twice Exceptional is “2e.” The brand’s logo consists of two letter “e,” one flipped horizontally to represent dyslexia, coming together to make a smiley face.  

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Twice Exceptional’s logo consists of two letter “e,” one flipped horizontally to represent dyslexia, coming together to make a smiley face. The brand has released several product drops, consisting of hoodies, hats and T-shirts, since December 2022.

Twice Exceptional’s third and most recent product drop in late February was in partnership with IU Accessible Education Services. The AES office provides support, resources and accommodations for students experiencing various differences. A portion of the proceeds from the third Twice Exceptional drop were donated to IU AES.  

Twice Exceptional is also one of few brands granted a license under IU to use the university’s likeness, meaning Bean and Aronow can use its branding on their products. They said this partnership allows for a tremendous amount of range to work with other IU organizations in the future, and helped arrange the biggest step the brand has yet to take: its first pop-up.  

“It’s going to be very immersive, very interactive,” Bean said.  

In effort with IU and AES, Twice Exceptional is creating an intersection between coffee, music and clothes for their first pop-up. While selling its products, Twice Exceptional has arranged for coffee from a local cafe to be catered, music to be played and to create a space for students to come and do homework. Bean and Aronow want guests to leave with a better understanding of the brand, its mission and what it means to be twice exceptional.  

“We just want people to come out and just learn about us,” Bean said. “Nothing makes me happier than when someone tells me we made a difference in their lives, or that their sibling has a learning difference, that it was really hard for them to watch them grow up with that and now we’re being the ones to speak out about this — it's just all we can ask for.”  

The Twice Exceptional pop-up shop will take place from noon to 6 p.m. April 7 and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 8 at 127 S. Gentry St. The pop-up will feature products from the brands upcoming drop, “Twice Exceptional for Indiana University,” with proceeds donated to IU AES.  

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