Izzy Wheels works with artists and top designers to transform wheelchairs into fashionable works of art. Today, the brand sells its wheelchair wheel covers to customers all over the world, but it all began right here in Dublin.
Sisters Izzy Keane and Ailbhe Keane founded the business back in 2016 when Ailbhe was a graphic design student at Dublin’s NCAD. Today, she is the company’s Creative Director.
Peter Varga spoke to Ailbhe Keane on behalf of Dublin.ie. She tells him about her path to entrepreneurship and the inspiration behind Izzy Wheels.
In conversation with Ailbhe Keane
When Izzy was little she always said that her favourite thing about being in a wheelchair was that her shoes never got dirty. They looked brand new every day and the lights never ran out in her favourite light-up runners. However, her real shoes were her wheels.
Rooted in a childhood custom
I remember we used to decorate her wheelchair for birthday parties and Halloween.
We filled them with fresh flowers once when she was a flower girl for a wedding.
At Christmas, we used to put tinfoil and lights around the wheels and lots of tiny Christmas decorations for the Xmas family show.
Izzy’s got such a bright and bubbly personality, but the first thing people noticed about her was her ‘medical device’ and that wasn’t a reflection of who she really is.
I always thought it was a great idea, but I didn’t think that it would create such a demand.
Having a shiny and colourful wheelchair always gave her confidence and a lot of attention on those special occasions. However, on regular days, she found it very frustrating and upsetting that there was nothing available to personalise it.
Izzy Wheels started out as a college project. I had a self-directed project in my final year and I wanted to do something that was not only creative, but meaningful at the same time.
My mom is mad into gardening and I think this had a big influence on us loving flowers and colours so much. In this project, my love of flowers and colours paired up with a desire to help my sister – and we created Izzy Wheels.
We designed customisable spoke guards for wheelchairs. They attach to your wheel easily and the idea is that they transform your medical device into a piece of fashion and self-expression.