Here at Lovin Dubin we’re passionate about our city and the people that shape it.
We adore informing you about the hottest places to munch, have a few scoops or just chill out. We’ve started a new series however, that takes a deeper look in to what makes Dublin, Dublin!
*Hint hint, it’s the people that live and work here.*
Each week I get the chance to follow a change-maker of Dublin around for the day and ask them the questions you’ve always wanted to know the answer to.
This week for Lovin Dubliners, I got the chance to catch up with Izzy Wheels, a company founded by Irish sisters Ailbhe and Izzy Keane.
Izzy Wheels create pieces that allow those who can’t stand up, to stand out.
Izzy was born with Spina Bifida and is paralysed from the waist down. Her sister Ailbhe was studying art in NCAD and for her final year project she came up with the idea to add some colour and creativity to Izzy’s wheelchair. She designed a range of bright and trendy wheel covers to express Izzy’s personality and from there, the project grew into a global business.
Who designs the wheels?
“I designed the first collection myself but now we collaborate with artists from all around the world.”
The brand has collaborated with some incredibly talented illustrators, designers and artists such as Maser, James Earley, Paula Mc Gloin and Orla Kiely.
They’ve collaborated with over forty different artists and distribute the product in over thirty countries.
The waterproof wheel covers come in three different sizes, made to fit any manual chair. They have a velcro strap, so they’re really easy to take on and off.
Izzy, what’s your favourite design?
One of the first things I noticed when I first met Ailbhe and Izzy was Izzy’s own pile of wheelchair covers, she has a lot.
She changes her covers every day to match her mood and her outfits. The project has allowed her to transform her medical device into a piece of fashion and self expression.
“To be honest, I love them all so much… Because I change them around so much I have different memories with each one so it’s amazing, I couldn’t pick a favourite.”
How has Izzy Wheels changed your life?
“As a wheelchair user, you’re used to having people look at you in a certain way, with pity almost because you look different. Now people look at me with a smile and they approach me to talk about my wheelchair which is great.”
Even in the short time I spent with the Keane sisters, Izzy was turning heads wherever she went. The project has turned something that could be considered a negative in to something really positive.
“It’s an amazing conversation starter.”
What have you achieved from this project?
The Keane sisters have caused quite a storm since the beginning of Izzy Wheels. They were named in the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2018 as well as winning seven national awards including the Accenture Leaders Of Tomorrow award in 2017.
The pair were the first Irish people to do a takeover on Instagram’s official account and they now have a huge following online as a result.
What is your main goal for the future of Izzy Wheels?
The companies tag line is also Izzy’s life motto:
“If you can’t stand up – Stand out.”
She explained that this is the main goal of the company, to empower wheelchair users to make a statement about themselves.