We all love our children. We give them everything we can so they can have the best childhood possible. But then, there is the completely unconditional and selfless love a parent has for their child. In this loving place is where amazingly beautiful things happen. And that’s how Custom Crutches in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, came to be.
Brady Chambers, now 12, was diagnosed with spinal arteriovenous malformation (or spinal AVM) at age three. Doctors said he was a late walker, but his parents, Louise and David Chambers, were not convinced. Like every concerned and worried parent, Louise scoured the internet for any information she could find on her son’s symptoms. After a few months of research and speaking with doctors and online groups, she found the answer.
Spinal AVM is a rare, abnormal tangle of blood vessels on, in, or near the spinal cord. Without treatment, spinal AVM can permanently damage the spinal cord because it blocks the oxygen flow to the rest of the body. Because of this debilitating disease, Brady has never walked.
Brady was given crutches at the hospital. In 2009 crutches came in 2 colors: grey and light grey. Imagine a three-year-old looking at these rather bleak and utilitarian contraptions. Brady was not happy and wanted the crutches in special colors. That’s when his father, David Chambers, came up with the idea to create Custom Crutches. Louise Chambers, Marketing Director at Custom Crutches, sat down with us to describe Brady’s journey and how he is the inspiration for Custom Crutches.
Can you walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today? What inspired you to start Custom Crutches?
When my husband David saw the disappointing look in our son’s eyes as he gazed at the grey crutches, he thought that this simply won’t do. David wanted to take it all away – the diagnose, the crutches, the emotional pain a parent and child go through when they are in this difficult position. Brady wanted other colors – red, blue, yellow… He also wanted cartoon characters on his crutches. He wanted something to match his personality. As Brady grew up, he saw that his school friends had things with cartoons or superheroes on them, so why couldn’t his crutches? His father listened and delivered.
The crutches are supplied from a European company. They only come in black. Custom Crutches then designs and places the special wrapping on the crutch according to the individual’s request. Most requests are made-to-order. David creates all the crutches.
The crutches are water proof and approved by the United Kingdom’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, or MHRA (comparable to the United States’ FDA). Medical safety is very important to us and our customers. We ensure that everything is well regulated and approved.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
We were doing this as something to help our son until we realized that we were getting more and more orders. Now, it’s a full-time business. We’ve had such a positive response that we just had to do this. Having the courage to make an actual ‘business’ of this was the hardest part. The biggest struggle we face is time. We both still work full time at our day jobs, as well as take our two boys to all their many sporting events. However, this business changed our lives, and we want to ensure that it continues to help others as it has helped our son.
We discovered that social media has been very helpful to spread the word. Through our Twitter and Instagram pages, we have met many people from around the world and made many wonderful friendships. This is why David and I do this. We want to help children and adults alike reach their potential and give them a chance to express themselves via the crutches that have become part of their day-to-day lives.
The Chambers are also looking into different marketing strategies to grow Custom Crutches. Louise wrote her first Custom Crutches blog in early 2018. Coworkers and friends hadn’t known about the Chambers’ struggles. Now, they are an inspiration to their local and UK community.
What should we know about Custom Crutches – what do you do best, and what sets you apart from the competition?
Custom Crutches creates unique crutches for everyone. They are customized to the style and personality of the customer. Parents and adults alike all over the United Kingdom contact us to ask for specific colors, designs or characters on their crutches. If you can buy a purse or a backpack that defines your style, why not crutches? And that’s Custom Crutches’ motto – we will create a specially designed crutch for you according to your specific taste. You might think that these items are high cost, but they are not. Crutches range anywhere from £20-£40 ($25-$50) for kids, and adults available from £33-£70 ($42-$90), with further customization available upon request.
What positive impact is Custom Crutches having on the community you serve and your customers?
Everyone wants to fit in to a group or a team. It’s especially true for children. If you are a child dependent on a crutch or a wheel chair, you want to be able to fit in as much as possible. Custom Crutches delivers just that. We don’t simply create a customized crutch for our customers. The crutches help build confidence in children and adults. We offer competitive pricing because our number one responsibility is to the customer. We want to change how disabled individuals are viewed and help them express themselves through their crutches. Because, sometimes, even superheroes need a crutch…
Do you have any advice for small business owners at the beginning of their entrepreneurial journey?
Start a business that is personal to you where you can help others. If the story is real to you and your life, then your business will work. Have faith and trust in yourself and don’t worry about how it will be received until you start talking to others about it. Customize your product to the customer’s needs, put yourself in their shoes and understand what they want. You will stumble along the way, but these stumbles will pass, and you will eventually succeed. Fairs, conferences and other events may seem like a waste of time but attend them! These events are important to your product so that others can see it and meet you.
Your story is important, so tell people about it. Everyone needs to understand what your company does. Keep yourself open to opportunities and see where it goes. We hope we can help folks along the way. If you need us, drop us an email, anytime, and we will try our best to help you. We hope to keep connecting and help as many people of all ages as we can.
Businesses like Custom Crutches give hope, energy, and inspiration to others. Their elegantly innovative, yet simple solution to an inherently overlooked issue has given way to what a company should do – create a product that is made specifically for the customer’s needs. Mass customization is here to stay, at least at Custom Crutches.
Custom Crutches was created for a single purpose – to make a boy smile and feel good about needing a crutch. We all need crutches in our lives. But here, it’s made just for you…
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This blog is from Key Paragon Marketing & Advisory Firm. Key Paragon was formed under the idea of giving individuals of different abilities a purpose, whatever their ability. We aim to create and grow a company that can eventually hire these same individuals.
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Erika is a data and targeting expert. She has developed many segment analysis processes and target populations in order to support business initiatives. Her passion in chaos theory and fractal analysis helps her view data in a very unique way.
Erika enjoys also reading about the future of work and how we can bring it closer to the present. “How we work today will be so different in 10/20 years from now. It’s exciting to see what will happen given all the economic, human, and technical evolution we are currently experiencing.”
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