Nikki: Having children is life altering. Having a child with a disability is world altering. Stella was born at 31 weeks and spent ~2 mos in the NICU. At 8 mos, Stella was given a diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy. We spent the first 3 yrs of Stella’s life in & out of doctor appts and therapy sessions.
Cerebral Palsy is lack of oxygen to the brain in utero, during delivery or even after a child is born. It affects so many different parts of someone’s body based on the brain damage, and can affect someone’s speech, vision, only one side of the body, behavior and learning abilities. Stella has spastic quadriplegia which means she has high muscle tone in all four of her limbs. My challenges with Stella have been both big & small, but one in particular led to the creation of a product capable of helping Stella and many others in similar situations. Stella uses a wheelchair & a walker to move around her world. At 5, Stella underwent double hip surgery leaving her in bilateral spica casts with a bar in-between to set her hips in place. This surgery required a 3 mo recovery. Among the many questions I asked doctors & nurses at Boston Children’s Hospital was one that seemed simple – where could I find pants that would fit over Stella’s casts? Astoundingly, there was no answer. The hospital suggested blankets, dresses, & large Tshirts, but as a mother, I could not imagine Stella feeling so exposed and self-conscious along with all the other struggles already looming in her recovery.
So, I decided to make my own. I bought a pair of pajama pants, cut open the outer seam, and replaced the stitching with Velcro that could open & close on the outside of the pants over Stella’s casts. The results were amazing. Stella felt instantly more comfortable and at ease with the many visitors at their house and at her numerous medical appointments.
Joanne: I was at Nikki’s house one day visiting with her after Stella’s surgery when she showed me the pants she had made. I was shocked that there were no pants like them already on the market and even more so when I learned that there were hardly any adaptive clothing options available in general. I became very impassioned by this lack of adaptive clothing and the simplicity of the design that was so impactful for Stella. My mom, Josephine, is an amazing sewer and I knew she could easily make a few more pairs for Stella. After seeing how these pants were able to transform Stella’s recovery, it became clear that we were on to something that could help so many others. Friends, family & medical staff were all amazed by the pants that were so novel. It is very inspiring to see something so simple make such a huge difference. And makes you want to share it with the world. So Nikki & I decided to do just that and formed befree, LLC.
Nikki & Joanne: befree, LLC is a small, woman owned company and our main challenges are funding, achieving brand recognition in mainstream markets, and manufacturing resources. Securing business loans has proven extremely difficult. Currently we are self-funded and while our progress to date has been amazing, we need capital for marketing and advertising to break into the market and reach our millions of customers.
And, like many small businesses, befree was stalled and production halted for much of 2020 & 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Manufacturing resources & supplies were very limited at the time due to nationwide shutdowns, but we knew we couldn’t give up. We made sure the company stayed on track and were able resume production. The current versions of zipOns for both children & adults launched in the beginning of 2022.
Nikki & Joanne: Be Kind – you really never know what someone is going through and a little kindness can make a huge difference.
Nikki & Joanne: Moms can be great entrepreneurs because we are really good at problem solving. When you see your child struggle and need something that doesn’t exist, you make it happen yourself. You don’t give up until you find a solution. And then you share it to help others. And that’s exactly what we did.
Nikki & Joanne: Believe in yourself and your idea(s). Don’t be afraid of being told “no” and don’t let it discourage you.
Nikki & Joanne: We are most proud of the ways we have improved the lives of our customers. Their feedback is very powerful and demonstrates how something as simple as a pair of pants can be a game changer.
One of our favorite stories we heard was from an immensely grateful parent whose little boy was recovering from hip surgery with casts on both legs. He was refusing to leave the house until he received his zipOns and had pants that he could wear. zipOns gave him confidence and comfort and aided tremendously in his recovery.
After this summer's shooting-in-the-parking-lot incident at Great America in Gurnee, IL it seems corporate Six Flags has now decided to implement a new safety policy that has guests griping.
From this point forward (as I understand it, this goes beyond Fright Fest & Halloween events), no guest can bring in any bag that is larger than 12" x 12" x 6" in size. With the only exceptions allowed for medical reasons, or diaper bags brought in w/an infant or young child.
Though these changes are mainly done in the name of guest safety, some folks have a difficult time absorbing anything different to the way they go about their business. So if you pay attention, you'll notice they may end up venting their frustrations on line. Some are cited in this article:
Other parks beyond Six Flags are of like mind, too. For instance, Elitch Gardens in Denver has posted this:
Only bags, including purses, backpacks and fanny packs within the dimensions of 8″ x 5″ x 2″ are permitted as well as medical or diaper bags (child must be present). All bags are subject to be searched prior to entry.
While limiting a guest's options, the good news is we're here with simple solutions to help you enjoy your day with less hassle. Our PortaPocket wearables are all compliant with these new parameters and hence will be allowable to use.
Good fun to you, and a happy Halloween too!
It's almost that time again for some Fall fun.
So what are your plans?
So many good things...never enough time. ;)
Though one thing to put on your 'to do' list now is to get organized before the big day. You don't want to end up with an awesome outfit, but a major disconnect with having nowhere to effectively carry your cellphone & ID/cards while you're out & about. Why not simply make your life easier and wear what you need.
...and help yourself!
Did you hear about the recent passing of the MORE Act? It's the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement Act that ends criminalization of cannabis for adults by removing it from list of controlled substances. It also eliminates related criminal penalties & takes major steps toward criminal justice reform, social justice, & economic development as related to marijuana.
While we're neutral on this subject, we feel it's a step in the right direction to give people opportunities and allow them freedoms to make personal choices, as long as they're being responsible & not stepping on the rights of others.
In appreciation for the upcoming 4/20 date, we'd like to share our versions of the most fitting pockets for these 420 occasions. If you need your weed, now you can stash your hash and yet still be legal at the same time. Woot! :)
Every time I go to the gym (which is often), I see the same things. This has been going on for years and never seems to change. It's the cellphones. You know the drill. They're all over the floor. And balanced on water bottles. And left on the machines. Or forgotten by mistake in the bathroom stalls, etc. Sometimes you'll see them shoved in a waistband, or yes, sticking out from (or just the outfline showing that they're present in) a pants pocket...
It's a fail.
It's a fail because people are inconvenienced.
It's a fail because people lose things.
It's a fail because people are uncomfortable, and at times they break their phones by accidentally hitting their cells with a weight, or immersing them in sweat.
Why do we do this?
The good news is that we really don't have to anymore. There are easy answers if you look for them, and will stop these problems before they start.Love,
Have you seen the latest ads #DoItForThePhones from T-mobile that are promoting their network with the help of Dolly Parton and Miley Cyrus? While I appreciate the artistry of these supremely talented ladies, it seems that there's a subtle message about where to keep one's cellphone that probably isn't the best...
NO woman should keep their cellphone in their bra for any reason. The sweat can kill your cell, and there are emissions that you don't ever want to have near your chest area, either. Tiny print in the phone guides speak to this issue, although almost nobody ever reads 'em.
We're gratified to be able to offer a safer, more comfy & less sweaty solution that's also excellent for use at theme parks like Dolly's own Dollywood (among others)! Help yourself, here (or enjoy our more fancy/fun version, here)Stay safe out there!
We're excited to announce we've added our first neck pillow to our assortment.
It's a super cool innovation called the Tube, created by Donna Cooper of Tubular Travel
in Jacksonville, FL.
The Tube is the only neck pillow you stuff with clothes so you get extra storage space
when you fly, along with a handy device for neck or lumbar support to make your
flight experience more comfortable.
Check it out here, and be sure to take one along on your next adventure!
Hopefully '22 will be the end to this pandemic that has gone on (seemingly) forever...
Let's ALL do our part to help that cause by getting vaxxed, boosted, and always properly wearing our masks when we're with other people who don't live in our own households (read: pretty much anytime in public).
While I know we're all tired of these things (I am too)...it's really the right thing to do and the ONLY thing that'll eventually help us get out of this mess.
With all best wishes for a safe & heathy kickoff to 2022.
Your friends at portapocket.com
I know we're all tired of this COVID situation and wish it were over. But the fact is we're still in the midst of this pandemic and the only way to get through it is if we all look out for each other. Which means getting our vaccinations and (yes, still) masking up when out in public.
At least there's always a way to keep your extra mask (& vax card) handy! :)
Thank you for doing the right thing and thinking of your fellow humans.
Together we can get through this.