Aging in Style with Lori Williams
Aging in Style with Lori Williams

Episode · 4 months ago

093. Why adaptive (and fashionable) apparel is a need for older adults


The top 2 reasons why someone would move into senior housing are needing help with using the bathroom due to incontinence and changing clothes. Jimmy Zolo’s company Joe & Bella addresses both, and returns to the podcast to discuss new adaptive clothing from Joe & Bella.

Joe & Bella began during the pandemic, so people in senior living communities wouldn't lack essentials. However, once they began offering clothing, 90% of sales came from apparel within 3 months. Soon, Jimmy found a niche in the market for adaptive clothing that not only helps seniors extend their independence, but offers modern, fashionable styles that are unique in the market. This clothing helps keep seniors safer at home longer than ever while restoring their dignity.

What is adaptive apparel? It could be as simple as magnetic buttons instead of traditional buttons that would be difficult for someone with extreme arthritis or Parkinson's. The goal is to help ease the process of dressing and undressing.

One of the reasons adaptive clothing is helpful is due to incontinence. It’s difficult to address it, as it’s an aspect of aging that’s rarely discussed due to the stigma – and even more difficult for kids to discuss with their parents. Jimmy is hoping Joe & Bella will shift the conversation and empower seniors with an aspirational brand that recognizes seniors needs and stays true to their age.

The first two products are available July 11 in the U.S., Canada and U.K. with more products coming later in the year.

Topics discussed:

- Adaptive clothing

- Seniors with limited mobility

- Joe and Bella

- Incontinence

- Overcoming incontinence stigmas

- Senior housing

- Senior products

- Fashion for seniors

Takeaways from this episode:

- Adaptive clothing is any type of apparel that has one or multiple alterations that can make the process of getting dressed easier, such as Velcro sneakers.

- Joe & Bella apparel has 2 goals: extending independence to make it easier to dress and undress. If independence not an option, it helps ease the challenge of assisted care and dressing for caregivers.

- The number one worker's comp issue right now in senior housing involves transitions: helping someone in a wheelchair go to the bathroom, to get them changed, etc. Adaptive clothing helps for caregivers as well as seniors.

- Have open, empowering conversations about how helpful products and solutions without stigmatizing a person's abilities. Reassure them there’s no need to be embarrassed because they help with independence and quality of life.

- Visit the Joe & Bella website on July 11 to shop their new adaptive apparel.


Shop essentials for loved ones, like adaptive clothing:

Social media links:

033. Joe & Bella: a platform to simplify the caregiver's life

Listen to Aging in Style episode 31:Joe & Bella: a platform to simplify the caregiver's life

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So what I did next is I went to Google, I like any aniennial ransom would do, and typed in clothes for my grandmother that's less painful to put on, and I found a couple websites that promised to make the process safer and easier and less painful. Ordered a few things, sent it to my grandmother and when it got to her, she refused to try anything on, and I asked her why. She simply said too ugly. So that that was really the start of US deciding let's focus on apparel, let's make clothing that is beautiful and comfortable and fashion forward and moderate, that folks want to wear, that is in line with their identity, in line with what they've all reason Warren, but makes that process addressing safer, easier and more dignified. Welcome to aging in style with me, Larie Williams. I'm an optimist by nature and I believe you can follow your dreams at any age. My grandmother's journey with dementia ignited a passion and need to work with seniors. I've spent the past thirteen years learning about seniors and aging. My mid S, I followed my own dream and founded my company where I use my expertise to help seniors locate housing and resources. On this podcast, we cover all aspects of aging. Joins each week to meet senior living experts and inspirational seniors who are following their dreams. The fact is, we're all aging, so we're not do it in style. Hi, welcome to today's episode of aging in style. If you are a caregiver or a senior or taking care of someone who has issues within continents or mobility issues, you may have run across an issue with clothing and easy accessibility, and not only that, but fashionable clothing. So that is a huge market that, you know, a lot of us have never thought about. So today's guest is going to talk about clothing that is for people, specifically for people who have these needs, and it's Jimmy's all. Oh, you may remember him from maybe about a year and a half he was on. His company is Joe and Bella, and I'm going to introduce him and have him tell us what's been going on in the past year and a half and the switch that they've made or some changes they've seen between what they were selling in Joe and Bella and getting more into this adaptive clothing. So I think it's really interesting and this is a great episode. Jimmy is the founder and CEO of Joe and Bella and it's the first modern adaptive apparel brand for older adults and I think we just need to jump into it. So welcome Jimmy. Hey, thank you so much for having me back. Excited to share the updates. Yeah, well, I'm excited to hear everything. And well, why don't we just do a quick recap? Tell us about Joe and Bella? What is your company? How it was inspired, and will also link back to your first interview to but tell us about it. Fantastic. So we originally started during the height of the pandemic and my grandmother had dimension. She was in a wheelchair and we're...

...helping care for her. She was in a memory care community outside of Chicago and the original idea was simply that's make sure that folks and my grandmother's community and communities like her wouldn't run out of essentials during the pandemic. So I went on about a forty hour copy binge, taught myself how to build a website, convince mckesson to partner with us and set up a website that allowed for automatic reordering of these centrals, and that's what we thought. Joe and Bella was going to be just a really easy way to help a loved one in a care community or senior housing. But that really shifted after we had spoken. A few things happened with the first was a few folks requested that we put apparel on the site, so we added some and within three months ninety percent of our sales we're clothing and apparel. So that was the first sort of Ah Oh, this is interesting moment. But what happened next, in was definitely most meaningful, was I was facetiming with my grandmother. When I say facetiming, a caregiver at her community was Nice enough to face time with me and set it up so I could talk to my grandmother and my grandmother was cold, so the caregiver went to help her put on a sweater and I'll never forget what happened next. She dropped an FBOMB who. It was the first time of like I'd ever heard my grandmother swear. I didn't know she knew that type of language, so it was shocking. It was surprising. But what had happened the pain of simply having to move her arm back a little bit to get into the sleeve and to get dressed was just excruciatingly painful that it brought her to tears and I would later find out that she was so in pain from having to move around that she would stop drinking water so that she wanted to have to go to the bathroom, that she was taking all of these really small, subtle steps to limit her pain, and I remember just being so incredibly frustrated because that pain to me felt unnecessary, that there ought to be a better way to help her get dressed. I'll forget out dressed up, he go to the bathroom so that she doesn't need to live with that level of pain day in and day out and ranking multiple times during the day. So what I did next is I went to Google, I, like any annennial ransom would do, and typed in close for my grandmother that's less painful to put on, and I found a couple websites that promised to make the process safer and easier and less painful, ordered a few things, sent it to my grandmother and when it got to her, she refused to try anything on and I asked her why? She simply said too ugly. So that that was really the start of US deciding let's focus on apparel, let's make clothing that is beautiful and comfortable and fashion forward and modern, that folks want to wear, that is in line with their identity, in line with what they've all reason warn but makes that process of dressing safer, easier and more dignified. And so that's what we're up to... and that's what we've been doing for the last year and we've got some exciting updates coming now. That's great and I love it that you saw that need and just kind of pivoted and went with it, because I think that is an overlooked segment of the market and there are so many people who need clothes like this for so many reasons, and that's it's so sad to think of someone not drinking water because they don't want to have to get to the bathroom because it's painful and it's difficult and everything side. Love that you've had that Aha moment and here we are now. So let's kind of get into what exactly what is adaptive clothing? So adaptive a clothing is any type of apparel that has one or multiple alterations that can make the process getting dressed easier. I'm so could be something as simple as maybe the buttons are magnetic instead of traditional buttons, so if someone has extreme arthritis or Parkinson's, things will button right up as opposed to actually having to go and do each button individually. Or, you know, Bell grow sneakers are a form of adaptive apparel for us. When we when we think about designing an adaptive apparel, we want to be conscious of a few things. Number one is that older bodies have different needs than younger bodies. And when you look in the news you'll see lots of adaptive apparel brands are out there, but pretty much all of them are focusing on younger demographics. Kim Kardashian, for example, and skins just launched their own adaptive a barrel line. Really a really a good thing for us. It's bringing more awareness to the space in the earth. But what a twenty five year old woman would wear is very different than what a ninety year old woman would wear. So the type of fabric, the type of fit, that just the way our skin changes as we aid. We need to be conscious of in design and so our apparel really has two goals. The first is it's all about extending independence, so reinforcing existing habits and behaviors to make that process of getting dressed and undressed really easy. So it's about making maybe arm holes larger than normal or folkster to the front of the shirt that they normally are so an individual doesn't have to reach back. It's about using magnetic steps or having extra stretchy fabric at certain parts so it's not you're not trying to really pull something on up over part of the body that that isn't going to bend or move in a specific way. So it's number one. It's about extending that independence and for individuals who dressing independently is no longer an option, it's about easing the challenge of assisted care and assisted dressing. So if you need a caregiver, whether that professional caregiver to help professional or family to help you get dressed, it's about just making sure that's easier. The number one workers comp issue right now it's senior housing. is about transitions, which means getting someone up into a wheelchair to the toilet, to get them up to change. So this is a this is a big issue and with such a big caregiver. Short, it's making sure that caregivers have enough time to help an Inidi a dress properly is going to keep them healthy...

...and safe. Here too, so it's get it works both ways. HMM, okay, that sounds great. Okay, you were earlier when we were talking. The products are coming out and you did a photo sheet and La. So I want to hear more about this story. Want you to share this. Yes, so, we have a photo shoot coming up next week which we are so absolutely excited about. Our first two products are about to come to market, depending on when this releases. If you go to joon, Bellacom will be up in live in July. But we knew we wanted a specific type of model, one that we want to make sure we weren't running away from a person's age. We wanted to show our audience as they are, except we want to make sure we were aspirational in those ethos as well as empowering, and I think a lot of brands that target the specific demographic often miss that. They I hear, will, you know, show a forty year old kite surfing and pretend that's an appropriate way to market to ninety year olds, or they go the other end of the spectrum and maybe present old adults in an undignified or almost ages and way. And so finding the right models for us was a challenge and we ended up reaching out to just about every single modeling agency we could find in California requesting a really broad range of hey will, will anyone who is overly aged sixty let us know? And we would get images back of folks in their T S and S and had folks with muscle own bodies running on the beach and it just just nothing remotely appropriate and now what we were going for. And we would still then call and try and argue and try and explain what we were going for. In there was this just bizarre disconnect with the modeling agencies and what it means to be an older adult. And maybe maybe we should have realized that going in, based on how a lot of brands of forced market older adults in this country, but it was it was a frustrating experience. So what we ended up doing was we turned to instagram and we just started searching on instagram and we eventually stumbled on a Hashtag that was called long gray hair. We got it and we found a few folks that were just the coolest looking older adults we've ever seen, with really beautiful long gray hair. WE DM them and they'll be our models for the first shoot and they meet our brand guidelines, which are all about being true to the age of our audience, but also about being aspirational and empower and so we're really excited to share with you all the results when it's when it's ready to go in a couple weeks. That's amazing. I can't wait to see it and I agree there is definitely a disconnect and how we market products to older adults. And I know you know facebook and instagram there's always adds going through and that you know they catch me if it's about makeup or skincare, but they'll show doing this. Oh, this is anti wrinkle whatever and they're using it the models twenty years...

...well, well, she doesn't have wrinkles yet. Wait till she's fifty eight. But it is kind of frustrating because we should be celebrating people at whatever age they are. When we had talked earlier about, you know, baby boomers being this huge group coming up aging each day and having a lot of a lot of the money too. So it's like, why don't we market appropriately to to these older adults? YEA, that that's exactly right. I look at Tenzero Americans turned seventy every single day. By two thousand and thirty three there will be more Americans over the age of sixty five and under the age of eighteen for the first time ever in this country. And of course, this is the demograph group that holds the wealth in this country and I think it's important to recognize that in many ways, boomers are the first ever youthful generation in this country and are so distinct than their parents generation, a silent generation who fought in World War II. The boomers they want to stay young, and when I say that I'm not talking about numerically, I'm talking about their ethos, their character, what they want to do. They still want to go up to concerts, they they want to go play sports, they want to be with their grandkids, and so when we mark it to them showing a twenty year old or if we mark it to them showing someone with a progressed state, it's missing the mark. So before I started joeing Bella, my last business was a marketing research business in one of our largest clients was a ARP and one thing that we created was a specific measure that we call age aspiration. So the idea was we would ask individuals amongst every single age co or twenty to ninety, if you could be any age right now, what would it be? And so of course sixteen year old would say, Hey, I want to be twenty one, and twenty five year old would say I want to be twenty one. But where would get interesting is typically the average aide for the boomers at the time the study that they told us that they wanted to be in their late s. So that for us was really interesting. But we're folks often misinterpreted. That is it doesn't mean we should use images of a three year old. No, it's about using the ethos, the character that the feeling of game thirty will still representing an individual's numeracle age appropriately visually as well, and so so that that's our challenge. But all but all sorrow goal. HMM, that's interesting, and maybe they're wanting to feel like they felt in their s, because I just did an interview a couple weeks ago this very interesting lady Catherine stay. She's in Boston and she wrote a book called Eighty something and her research and I started googling, you know, after I talk to her, and it definitely supported it. The happiest people are the ones in there s. We get happier as we get older. So like your S, you start getting happier. It's the called the happiness curve, I believe, and you just keep getting happier and happier all the way up to so I thought that was really...

...very interesting because most of us would think the opposite. Right exactly. She's absolutely right. So so many of the everyday stresses of early adult life are gone at that point. You're not worried about your job, you're less likely to be worried about bills and taxes and the stresses of everyday life. Instead it's you get it, enjoy being a grandparent, you get enjoyed retirement. And when I say retirement, take really for boomers. They look at retirement differently than older generations. A lot of them believe in what's known as career on core. So it's about going and finding a new passion. That could include part time work, but still something that's really meaningful and personal to their growth at that stage in their life. So it that happiness curve is is real. We've seen that as well. Yeah, absolutely, and you know, there's a lot of products out there, adaptive equipment and different things to allow older adults to stay active, and that's really important and something we stress a lot on the podcast is that some seniors are embarrassed have to use a walker will. You shouldn't be embarrassed because that's going to keep continue with your independence because now you can still get around and they see that with your clothing that you have coming out, because that's going to help people if they haven't gotten to the point where they need a caregiver, it's going to be easier for them to go to the bathroom because the clothing is so much easier to you know, put back on or to get dressed on their own. So I love that you have this coming out. How many pieces do you have of initially? So our first two products are coming out in July. One is called the cares its classic in one is called the care zips locks and they are these fantastic adaptive pants. One is sort of an everyday pants, one is a little bit dressier but have a zipper functionality just to make that process way easier to dress and undressed. But then we have six other products, three four and three four women, that are being designed and developed as we speak. We actually have prototypes on the way, which is really, really exciting. So two tops for men, to tops for women and another pant for men and another pant for women. And in our goal is is we don't want to stop here. We want to continue pushing, continue developing, continue innovative, because when it comes to adaptive for older adults, things have been done the same way for a really long time and for us it looks like there is just so much opportunity to do exactly what you said, extend independence, and in order for us to fulfill that mission, we do need that for full wardrobe. We do need enough sort of stable item so that someone can fill out the closet. Because the stats are the top two reasons why someone would move into senior housing is around in continents going to the bathroom and it's around changing clothes. If you can't dress yourself and you don't have family that's able to do it, if you can't go to the bathroom by yourself, that leads to moving into to senior housing and senior care. So we really believe that we can help people extend their independence and keep them safer at home for longer than they have been before and it's absolutely giving them...

...their dignity. Back to I spoke with a family yesterday and sweet, sweet family and I had moved the dad into independent living a while back. Well, now he's having issues getting to the bathroom. So he's having some in continents issues. He wears blue jeans and suspenders. That's his thing, that is his outfit and you know it takes a minute to get the suspenders off. So if there is something adaptive clothing for that, like with the pants, maybe if they're easier pants to take off and he just kind of flips off his you know, suspenders, maybe that would be a way. But you know it's so embarrassing for him. His daughter were sharing with me that he doesn't want to go anywhere. He doesn't want to go out to dinner, he doesn't want to go to her house in case that happens. Yeah, look, in constance is one of those aspects of aging that we just don't talk about and I understand why. It's really, really hard conversations, our conversations for children to have with their parents and there's this stigma around it. But fortunately, what we're building and what a lot of others are building around other types of and continents products, there are solutions and innovations on the way and I do think part of our challenge, and a lot of other brands that looked to help extended individuals independence, their challenge is getting over the stigma of the solution that they're solving for, and it's not easy. And I actually even don't don't love the word adaptive because I feel the extended almost sounds clinical, sounds like a hospital term to me, and and so anything that we can do to have open, empowering conversations about how we help without stigmatizing a person's abilities, the more people will be able to reach but it's going to be for us, it's about being stepped by step and being really consistent with the language that we use, the types of models that we show, the type of branding that we show, as well as than, of course, making a beautiful product that's available everywhere that is indistinguishable from a non adaptive piece of apparel. I'm so excited that you are filling the space because this is so needed. Tell us again when the products are going to be available. So our first two products will be available July eleven nationwide as well as in Canada and the UK, and then the next six products will be available late q three, early queue for just depending on how all these fun global supply chain issues with yeah, shelves out, so tbd on those one, but we feel good about l q three, early que for. Okay. And then if someone wants to purchase how do you? How would they go about you? And it's it just on your website or is availables and stores? Right now it's not going to be on our website at Joe and Bellacom you can follow us on all of our social which is shop Joe and bell across Instagram, facebook, twitter and soon too, bee take talk. Then we're have a few partner websites as well. And the other thing that we're doing which were especially excited about, is we're partnering with those in the senior housing space, including one member of on our board is Sebi Petris,...

...the CEO of Priority Life Care, which the network of fifty care communities throughout the country. So these fantastic for the thinking senior housing leaders are are getting behind Joe and ill in a meaningful way as well. That's excellent, great to hear. Well, thank you so much for coming on and sharing what you're doing. I'm blown away. I think this is great. I'd love to see how things have evolved for you and I think you're going in the right direction and this is going to be wonderful and so helpful for so many people. Lord, thank you so much for help having me on and helping US share this story and we'll keep you post as we make some progress and continue to innovate around adapt of apparel. Okay, sounds good and I cannot wait to see your photo shoot and we'll share all that on our website to yeah, and if you want to find more about Joe and Bella, you can obviously go to their website. We will have information on our website to including a link back to the first interview as well, where there's a little more detail about how he started joe and Bella. So it's really it's an interesting story to so my website is Lori Williams senior Servicescom and we thank you for listening. Be Sure to share this with your friends and family. You never know who needs this information. So keep sharing it. Thanks so much and we'll talk to you next week.

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