Izzy Wheels turns your wheelchair into a fashion statement

‘If you can not stand up, stand out!’. As startup taglines go, the seven words picked out by Izzy Wheels have a whole lot extra that means than most. The Irish firm, founded by siblings Ailbhe and Isabel Keane, sells a assortment of wheelchair spoke guards created by impartial designers and illustrators that switch a wheelchair into a fashion statement. Or, much better nonetheless, a kind of self-expression.

For individuals of us who use a wheelchair, and irrespective of whether we like it not, it is a part of who we are: visually, pretty much and psychologically. At its core, it is a source of liberation. And yet a wheelchair is seldom found as a image of independence.

Since of the emotions it elicits in others, and the way they are promoted as healthcare equipment, a wheelchair usually carries rather destructive connotations, which, when you pause to imagine about it — as this story has compelled me to do — tends to make totally no feeling at all. Izzy Wheels is unapologetically complicated this.

“Izzy Wheels are so critical to me since they draw these types of beneficial consideration to myself and my wheelchair,” suggests Isabel Keane, Izzy Wheels’ Manufacturer Ambassador. “I am no longer found as ‘the weak unfortunate lady in a wheelchair’ by passers-by. I am now found as a classy human being with neat wheels. They seriously mirror the relationship I have with my wheelchair… Wheelchairs support, they do not hinder a human being and now they do not hinder a person’s fashion choices”.

The notion that a wheelchair could be a “fashion choice” (or, most likely, even that a human being who makes use of a wheelchair can be classy in the to start with put) is a refreshing assault on typical considering, but there’s a well seized business prospect also.

A selection of regular wheelchair corporations by now provide colourful wheelchair spoke guards. Even so, these are inclined to be focused at modest kids, prohibitively high priced and are not intended to be interchangeable. In distinction, Izzy Wheels spoke guards start off from €99 and are hooked up by velcro straps so that they can be swapped out as and when your outfit needs. It’s as far eradicated from a healthcare device as can be.

“The challenge is wheelchairs have seemed the very same for a hundred several years,” Izzy Wheels founder and Creative Director Ailbhe Keane tells me. “People have destructive connotations with wheelchairs and associate them with ill or aged people. A wheelchair can price up to €10,000 and none of this goes toward the visual appearance of your chair. We want to give a single of the world’s most underserved neighborhood of people the flexibility to categorical themselves… Self expression is a right”.

The firm introduced previous September and has by now sold “hundreds” of Izzy Wheels globally. Subsequent up it strategies to include personalization options to its assortment of spoke guards, impressed by products and solutions these types of as NikeID.

“Since launching, we realised the demand from customers for personalization,” suggests the startup’s Creative Director. “We are now doing the job on a digital platform for Izzy Wheels identified as ‘Be-spoked’. This platform will give end users the capacity to build their own models from a huge assortment of prints, colors, textual content and components. We hope to launch this platform in the up coming handful of months”.

In the meantime, Izzy Wheels has taken pretty very little funding. It is now on Organization Ireland’s New Frontiers Entrepreneur Development Method exactly where it received €15,000 in backing, alongside with workspace and business mentoring. Just after successful The Accenture Leaders of Tomorrow Award, the startup will be a part of the NDRC launchpad system later this yr.

And if you weren’t convinced of the business situation, I’m told there are 10 million wheelchair end users throughout Europe and the U.S., with two million new wheelchairs issued just about every single yr. We were promised traveling cars, but, in the meantime, let us give wheelchair end users some first rate fashion selections.







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