Every day someone undergoes a life-altering experience, whether positive or negative. From the time we wake up and fall asleep, our world could quite possibly take an 180-degree turn, and that’s exactly what happened for Heidi McKenzie. Heidi was your everyday girl who enjoyed sports and other recreations. However, her life came to a halt in 2007 when she suffered injuries from a severe accident, paralyzing her from the waist down. Fortunately, she was the recipient of positivity and well-wishes as her support group aided in her mental discovery, but Heidi had one long-lasting qualm that couldn’t be solved through therapy or kind words – fashion. Heidi had already been a creative and fashion forward woman so when she realized her style choices were rather limited, specifically in finding pants that were both stylish and comfortable, she was not impressed.
“Being adaptive and functional is what sells to those in wheelchairs so that is the main focus … cute is not a priority,” Heidi states.
She knew that the majority of clothing wear for people in wheelchairs was catered toward the elderly, so skinny jeans or extreme flares are never an option when she’s on the market for a new outfit. As she was mulling this over she went on to graduate college, engage in various volunteer organizations, and she even won a beauty pageant! She was still in the fast lane in almost every aspect except for her jeans, and it finally became too much.
More than 3 million people are in wheelchairs in the United States alone, so Heidi decided to be the spokesperson for young Millennials that knew their life was only different by the chair they relied upon. Heidi partnered with designer Kristin Alexandra Tidwell to create jeans that are fashion-forward, comfortable, and easily accessible for people in wheelchairs. She titled it “Alter Ur Ego” and started a Kickstarter campaign that immediately took off raising more than 20k. They began creating jeans that have since been a wild success. These jeans look like your everyday pair, however, there is a comfortable elastic band that holds your stomach in since it’s impossible to suck in, and no one likes an unwanted pooch! The pockets are easier to access with them being placed lower on the leg and the cut is higher in the back so you don’t have any unwanted skin peeking through. The last invention is pure genius – they manufactured an invisible catheter opening to avoid embarrassment yet still maintain the much-needed accessibility.
Heidi is an inspiration to us all as she continues to look forward in life and pursue her love for designing items that people, who are in a similar situation as herself, can utilize. Her positivity and resolve is something we could all use a little more of in this world!