July 15, 2024
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Funmi Lawal is the founder and CEO of Clip-Knix, an innovative underwear brand serving the elderly, those with limited mobility, and post-surgery individuals. A multi-award-winning entrepreneur, she’s also a trustee for the Royal Free Hospital Kidney Patient Association. Born in London and raised in Nigeria, Funmi returned to England at 20, building a successful career in civil service before pursuing her Master’s at the London School of Economics. Her journey includes overcoming seven miscarriages, a stroke, kidney failure, and the loss of an adult son. Despite these challenges, Funmi has transformed her experiences into a groundbreaking business, expanding Clip-Knix globally and earning recognition for her resilience and entrepreneurial spirit.

THISABILITY Newspaper interacted with her on her journey.

TN: Your personal experiences with health challenges and loss have been a driving force behind the creation of Clip-Knix. How have these experiences shaped your understanding of the needs of people with limited mobility, and how has this understanding influenced the design of your products?

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FL: My journey began with a profound health crisis: a stroke seven days after childbirth due to eclampsia. This life-altering event left me unable to talk or walk, with my entire right side paralysed. The stroke also severely impacted my kidneys, damaging the tiny filters and complicating my health further with blood pressure issues. From 2002 to 2019, I managed to avoid dialysis, but my health steadily declined. My skin darkened, my kidney failed to signal white blood cell production, and numerous bodily functions deteriorated. The vital nature of the kidney, with its diverse roles, became painfully clear to me during this time.

In 2019, after a year and nine months on dialysis, I received a life-changing call from the Royal Free Hospital: a kidney was available for transplant. Despite not packing in advance to avoid tempting fate, I hurried to the hospital with just a few essentials. Among three potential recipients, I was ultimately chosen for the transplant after rigorous testing, likely because the donor was a female and thus a better match. This transplant was a pivotal moment in my life, allowing me to pursue my dreams and become an entrepreneur.

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I founded Clip-Knix, a company that designs and retails front-fastening underwear for women of all ages. The ease of use and accessibility of my products are directly influenced by my own experiences with limited mobility and health challenges. This venture has garnered numerous awards and recognition, including appearances before Members of Parliament in the House of Commons to discuss blood pressure and kidney disease.

Our cleverly designed underwear solution enables the wearer to clip underwear on and off at one, two, or three front-fastening locations, with a choice of buttons or hooks to suit a wide range of needs. Clip-Knix knickers are practical, stylish clip-on knickers designed to make living easier. This high-quality underwear range is not only durable but also offers a truly
ergonomic solution for those who don’t have the physical ability to bend or stretch to put on their underwear—just clip in place.

In collaboration with Innovate Product Design based in Salisbury, Clip-Knix has focused on creating a practical yet fashionable underwear solution for women that eliminates the need to bend or stretch when dressing. Our design process, driven by careful and robust research, has resulted in a range of underwear that can be fastened at the front, offering
ease of use without compromising on style or functionality.

The outcome is a highly effective and attractive range of underwear that will ultimately work for everyone. Whether for individuals with limited mobility or those seeking convenience, Clip-Knix underwear provides a seamless blend of practicality and fashion, enhancing the dressing experience for all wearers.

TN: Clip-Knix has become a global supplier of adaptive underwear, with a presence in multiple countries. What strategies have you employed to achieve this international growth, and how have you navigated the challenges of expanding into different markets?

FL: Our strategy is to ensure Clip-Knix reaches end users swiftly and efficiently. Currently, our adaptive wear is available through multiple online channels: our website, Amazon across 10 marketplaces, eBay UK, Faire, Ankostore wholesale market, and Recovear in Australia. As we launch our new range, we plan to expand further into Africa, the Middle East, and South America, broadening our global reach and impact.”

TN: As a multi-award-winning entrepreneur and a recognized figure in the adaptive clothing industry, what do you believe sets Clip-Knix apart from other brands, and how do you continue to innovate and improve your products?

FL: My personal experiences with health challenges and loss have profoundly shaped my understanding of the needs of people with limited mobility. These experiences have provided me with a firsthand perspective on the daily struggles and frustrations that come with physical limitations. From navigating basic tasks to seeking comfort in clothing, I’ve observed
the significant impact that small design choices can have on an individual’s dignity and independence.

Understanding these needs has driven me to prioritise ease of use, comfort, and accessibility in the design of Clip-Knix products. I have focused on creating clothing that can be easily managed by individuals with limited dexterity or mobility, ensuring that they do not have to compromise on style or self-esteem. Features such as adaptive closures, comfortable fabrics, and thoughtful design elements are incorporated to make dressing and undressing as effortless as possible.

This empathy-driven approach has not only influenced the functional aspects of Clip-Knix but has also motivated me to create products that bring a sense of normalcy and confidence to the users. By addressing the unique challenges faced by individuals with limited mobility, I aim to enhance their quality of life and provide them with practical yet stylish solutions that respect their needs and preferences.

Our latest innovation launching late summer is the Adaptive magnetic front-fastening period pants and incontinence underwear. This groundbreaking design offers unparalleled ease and accessibility, making it especially beneficial for individuals with arthritis and similar conditions. Say goodbye to struggle and discomfort with this thoughtfully crafted solution.

TN: Your journey has been marked by resilience in the face of personal adversity. How has your faith been a source of strength throughout these challenges, and what message would you like to share with others who may be facing similar difficulties?

FL: My faith has been my rock throughout my journey. It sustained me during my stroke when I never imagined being able to walk again. It carried me through dialysis and the search for a donor. Despite their advancing ages, my parents provided incredible care for me and my baby, even after my husband had to return abroad to work. The passing of both my parents within 364 days and the sudden, unexpected loss of my son at the age of 22 were profound challenges, but my faith held me steady. My advice to anyone facing adversity is to hold onto your belief, for there is always light at the end of the tunnel. This is just a test, and it will pass. Every beginning will have an end. Jobs will come, pain will subside, and disappointments will turn into moments of praise. What may seem scarce now will eventually become abundant. Trust me, take it from someone who has experienced it first hand.

TN: In addition to your work with Clip-Knix, you have been involved in various advisory roles and have been recognized for your contributions to the community. How do these experiences contribute to your overall mission of supporting and empowering individuals with disabilities?

FL: In my role as a trustee of the Royal Free Kidney Association, I have the privilege of working closely with a large and diverse community of individuals with disabilities. My work and experiences were prominently highlighted on the front page of Kidney Life, a publication dedicated to raising awareness about kidney health. I am proud that my personal story has
served as an inspiration and beacon of hope for countless individuals who are undergoing the challenges of dialysis.

Globally, there are approximately 1 billion people with disabilities, and I am dedicated to providing valuable insights and advice on matters related to disability within this significant population in my role as advisor to Billion-Strong. Additionally, as a board member of Spectrum, I am actively engaged in making decisions that directly impact individuals with limited mobility, ensuring that their needs and concerns are given the attention they deserve.

Furthermore, I am honoured to serve as an Ambassador for Adaptive Fashion – LadyRebel Club, where I am committed to representing and elevating the visibility of adaptive wear. Through this role, I strive to promote inclusivity and accessibility in the fashion industry for individuals with diverse abilities.

Drawing from my expertise and personal experiences, I had the opportunity to address Members of Parliament on the eve of World Kidney Day. During this impactful event, I shed light on the intricate relationship between kidney disease and blood pressure, advocating for greater understanding and support for this critical health issue.

TN: Lastly, we would be honoured to your view on why adaptive wear, such as Clip-Knix, is essential for persons with disabilities. How do your products contribute to enhancing independence, dignity, and quality of life for your customer?

FL: Adaptive wear like Clip-Knix is essential for persons with disabilities as it promotes  independence, comfort, and dignity by offering practical solutions tailored to their unique needs. These thoughtfully designed garments make dressing easier, enhancing daily life and fostering a sense of empowerment and self-reliance.

The future is bright for adaptive fashion. It will be displayed in shops side by side with ready to wear in shops in the not-too-distant future.

Web: https://www.clip-knix.com/

 

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