* 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. I have taken early retirement from my career as a mental health social worker to focus on the business and felt ready for a new challenge. I believe in the product and feel that there is a gap in the market for casual wear for wheelchair users which is fashionable as well as functional. The business is named after Emile’s nickname, Bealie, which only his sister calls him! I am passionate about supporting manufacturing in the UK and they will be manufactured in the Midlands.
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. When things settled down e.g. bladder and bowel routine adjustments to the home, we soon discovered that clothes do not fit properly whilst sitting in the wheelchair. More importantly, the comfortable joggers that Emile likes to wear do not provide easy access to catheterise. After researching the market and speaking to wheelchair users and their carers I have designed bespoke joggers for wheelchair users with a higher back to ensure full coverage (so no flashing!) and with a front opening to enable self-catheterising and easy dressing. I ran a crowdfunding campaign in March 2021 and raised £4,500 to fund a small run of the joggers and marketing.
Bespoke joggers with a unique opening to enable comfortable dressing and catheterising. They are higher at the back to avoid sagging whilst sitting and transferring to ensure everything is covered! I have been working with a small focus group of people, who range from having a spinal cord injury in adulthood to people who were born with cerebral palsy. We identified that there is a difference in muscle mass in the legs for people who cannot weight bear or have been spinal injured for a long time and lost muscle mass over the years. Therefore, we have redesigned the pattern to have a slimmer leg fit (which is fashionable presently) and we will also have a regular fit for people with more muscle mass on their legs, to ensure a better fit for different disabilities and all shapes and sizes.
We launched in September 2021 online and plan to sell from a shop unit in Broadstone Mill, Reddish in Stockport to give disabled people the opportunity to buy the products in person. The joggers are available in:
- 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″).
- Available in three colours: navy, grey, black.
- Made from 100% cotton jersey and made in the UK.
I will continue to add to the collection using the template of the fly front opening to use different materials and colours, and design adaptive shorts for the spring/summer season of 2022. I will also add unisex pieces to the collection to be more inclusive for all disabled people. The range will model mainstream fashion and will be updated seasonally.