The story of Izzy Wheels is a personal one that has seen a college project become a global brand. Izzy, who has spina bifida, regards her wheelchair as a symbol of freedom but felt it never expressed her bubbly personality. Ailbhe, who was studying art at NCAD, designed a range of colourful wheel covers that matched her sister's exuberant style. Their tagline became 'If you can't stand up, stand out!'.
Overnight, what started as a passion project went viral on Instagram and business exploded. Today Izzy Wheels sells to over 35 countries and has collaborated with 80 famous designers across the globe. They have won 15 national awards and were both named on Forbes 30 Under 30. It’s also featured in some of the world’s biggest publications including Vogue, Cosmopolitan, TechCrunch, Good Morning America, CBS News, and Oprah Magazine.
Last year they became the first disability brand to partner with Barbie to create a new and inclusive wheelchair Barbie doll with matching wheel covers. This year they created a limited-edition collection with the Japanese pop culture icon, Hello Kitty.
The sisters’ success shows what can happen when your business is driven not just by innovation but an unshakeable sense of purpose that brings a level of brand integrity that is compelling – and enviable.
These are also young women entrepreneurs who are helping to break down the stigma of disability by bringing attention to the personality in the wheelchair instead of the wheelchair itself. And they do so seamlessly, partly because they love what they do, but also because it makes business sense to tap into a market whose potential many others overlook.
As a duo, Ailbhe and Izzy are warm, confident, and inspiring. Their positivity, determination, and sense of purpose are striking. Audiences who hear them speak leave feeling motivated and energized. Recently, they became the first Irish people asked to take over Instagram's official story which had a reach of over 300 million people.