* This post is written by a guest blogger - it is not sponsored. *
I am a 55-year-old mother of three children, Theo (26), Emile (19) and Esther (17). We live in Stockport, Cheshire. We reside in Stockport, Cheshire. I have retired early from my career as a mental health social worker to focus on my new business venture. I strongly believe that there is a gap in the market for fashionable, yet functional, casual wear for wheelchair users. So I am now running an adaptive clothing business named after my son Emile's nickname, Bealie, which only his sister calls him!
In January 2016, our lives changed forever. My son Emile suffered a spinal cord stroke whilst we were out running errands, just like that, with no warning! The spinal stroke left him paralysed from the chest down. Once we started adjusting to life with a disability, such as arranging for a suitable toilet routine at home, we realised that clothing doesn't fit properly while sitting in a wheelchair. More importantly, we found out that the comfortable joggers that Emile likes to wear do not provide easy access for catheterization.
After conducting market research and speaking with wheelchair users and their caregivers, I settled on designing bespoke joggers for wheelchair users. By March 2021, I launched a crowdfunding campaign and successfully raised £4,500 to fund a small production run of the joggers and to support marketing efforts.
These bespoke joggers have a higher back to provide complete coverage (so no flashing), and to avoid sagging whilst sitting and/or transferring from your wheelchair. They also have a front opening to enable self-catheterising and easy dressing.
As previously mentioned, I have been working with a small focus group of people who have various physical disabilities, from adults living with acquired spinal cord injuries and children born with cerebral palsy. Together we identified that individuals who cannot bear weight or have long-term spinal injuries often experience a difference in muscle mass in their legs due to the loss of muscle mass over time. So I have redesigned the pattern to have a slimmer leg fit, which is currently in fashion. But we will also offer a regular fit for people with more muscle mass on their legs, ensuring a better fit for different disabilities and body types.
I am passionate about supporting UK manufacturing, so have chosen for the products to be made in the Midlands. We launched online in September 2021 and plan to sell from a shop unit in Broadstone Mill, Stockport soon to provide disabled individuals with the opportunity to purchase products in person. The joggers are currently available in the following sizes:
Five Waist Sizes: XS (28-30″), S (30-32″), M (32-34″), L (34-36″), XL (38-40″)
Two Leg Lengths: Regular (32″), Long (34″)
Three Colours: Navy, Grey, Black
Made From: 100% Cotton Jersey In The UK
I plan to expand my collection by incorporating the fly front opening design with a range of materials and colours. This will allow me to create adaptive shorts for the upcoming spring/summer season of 2022. Moreover, I hope to add unisex pieces to my collection to make it more inclusive for all disabled people, whilst also following seasonal mainstream fashion trends.