Proof that are no obstacles that can't be overcome.
Izzy Wheels – founded by sisters Ailbhe and Izzy Keane – started out as a college project in 2016.
Ailbhe noticed that Izzy – who was born with Spina Bifida and is paralysed from her waist down – was being recognised more by her wheelchair rather than her, something that wasn't a reflection of her personality. This encouraged her to design a range of personalised wheel covers that expressed users individuality and personality. “My little sister, Izzy, was born with spina bifida and has no feeling in her legs,” explains Ailbhe Keane. “Izzy has a really bubbly personality and a great style of dressing but the first thing people would notice about her was her wheelchair. She never felt it expressed her identity. I created Izzy Wheels, a range of stylish and colourful wheel covers for wheelchairs, as my final year project in The National College of Art and Design (NCAD) in 2016. Our motto became, ‘If you can’t stand up, stand out!’ The project was a viral sensation and we began collaborating with designers from around the world."
Our motto became, 'if you can't stand up, stand out!'
Today, Izzy Wheels sells in 35 countries and the duo has collaborated with 70 famous artists and fashion designers on wheel cover designs. “We wanted to show the world that wheelchairs can be a piece of artistic self- expression,” says Ailbhe. “The best part of all is when our ‘Spokes People’ send photos to us of themselves wearing their Izzy Wheels and sharing their life stories with us,” adds Izzy. “Our most recent collaboration with Mattel and Barbie was very special to us,” says Ailbhe. “We created a range of Barbie-inspired wheel covers for wheelchairs but also a mini-collection to go with the new Barbie doll who has a wheelchair.”
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Barbie x Izzy Wheels ✨ We’ve teamed up with @barbie to create a limited-edition wheel cover collection inspired by 60 years of Barbie Barbie has launched a new range of dolls with physical disabilities, including a doll who uses a wheelchair and a doll with a prosthetic limb. As little girls we were obsessed with Barbie and even had a doll who used a wheelchair who we used to make little wheel covers for! Now a whole new generation of kids with disabilities can play with a Barbie who represents them too • The new Barbie x Izzy Wheels limited edition collection covers are available only at izzywheels.com Design by @hattiestewart #BarbiexIzzyWheels
We are building a fashion brand for one of the world's most underserved communities of people
Some of this year’s highlights for the Izzy Wheels duo have included being invited to the American Vogue offices in New York to discuss disability in fashion; both being named on Forbes 30 Under 30; being the first Irish people to be in Instagram's official story; having BBC Three make a documentary about them and having a waiting list of over a thousand designers who want to work with Izzy Wheels. “We have big plans to add other stylish accessories to our collection,” says Ailbhe. “Spoke guards are just the beginning for us. We want matching bags, umbrellas and other products to match users' wheels. We are building a fashion brand for one of the world's most underserved communities of people.”
This article was originally published in the November issue of Irish Tatler.