Heidi McKenzie Wants to Alter Ur Ego
For Heidi McKenzie, fashion took a back seat after she suffered a spinal cord injury in 2007. After becoming a T4 paraplegic in a car accident, McKenzie resorted to the usual mode of “nothing will work in a wheelchair.” As a 21-year-old student studying fashion merchandising at Ohio State University, she didn’t see how she could still pursue a career in fashion.
“After my accident I attended Morehead State, and they didn’t have a fashion program, but even if they did, I don’t know that I would have studied fashion. I didn’t quite know how I would fit in the fashion industry as a girl in a wheelchair,” says McKenzie, now living in Saltlick, Kentucky. She instead graduated with a bachelor’s in small business management.
In 2012, she became Miss Wheelchair Kentucky, a title that gave her the courage she needed. “When I went on to compete in Ms. Wheelchair America as part of my title, I was able to spend time with women wheelchair users from other states and realized we all struggled to find fashionable, functional clothing.” This knowledge gave Mackenzie the push to start her adaptive clothing line — Alter Ur Ego.
After a successful Kickstarter campaign, she was able to fund her fashion label, and in the fall of 2015 her company began production. Her jeans are created for wheelchair users on multiple levels — they have thigh pockets, a catheter hole, a tummy panel, a higher back, an elastic waistband and they’re made of a soft denim. Both men and women’s styles are available.
McKenzie, 30, firmly believes that fashion can change your entire mindset after an injury. “How you feel on the inside shows on the outside,” she says. “It all starts with not letting your injury limit your true self.”
See her creations at: alterurego.com
Pontooning Just Got Cooler
If you’re a big fan of the water and have always dreamed of an accessible watercraft, Klein Ponton Boat, a custom boat builder in Denmark, is an accessible manufacturer to watch. They’ve created a line of accessible pontoon-like boats called “disabled friendly leisure boats,” and they are something to behold.
They come with an adjustable ramp outfitted to your wheelchair dimensions, and each boat is designed and constructed for each purchaser from scratch. One of the cooler features of their boats is that they can be steered using a joystick control system, which is perfect for quadriplegics.
The boat deck, too, is accessible, featuring a skid-proof floor made of PVC that looks like teakwood. For the anglers with injuries out there, Klein has certainly set the standard high for accessible boats. Hopefully manufacturers in the United States will follow suit very soon.
If you’re a fan of cooking shows, check out “Kickin’ It in the Kitchen,” a how-to cooking show hosted by David Robertson, a C6 quadriplegic from Arizona. He shows his techniques for everything from opening bags to flipping sandwiches, and he’s learning as he films his videos, which is great for newbies.