Disability Pride Month: Cool Crutches interview

Jumpin Man on Pink Cool Crutches

To celebrate Disability Pride Month, we spoke with Amelia, CEO and Co-founder of Cool Crutches; a retail brand changing lives with their products.

Disability Pride Month

July is Disability Pride Month. Taking place since 1990, it advocates for acceptance of an individual’s uniqueness and breaks down the stigma associated with disability. In retail, there are many ways to support Disability Pride Month, from reconsidering accessibility instore and online, to stocking new products.

Meet Cool Crutches

Founded in 2006, Cool Crutches aims to empower those who need support to walk. With fun and stylish designs plus innovative design features to provide the most comfortable and safe experience for users, Cool Crutches’ products prevent painful injuries and frustrating limitations that often come with regular walking supports. The company was inspired by the founder’s experiences of using regular crutches following a spinal cord injury from a quad bike accident leaving her with a life-altering long-term disability at the age of 19.

Modern Retail had the pleasure of speaking with Amelia Peckham, CEO and Co-founder of Cool Crutches about their brand’s innovative and design-led products that make a difference to the lives of those that use them.

Amelia Peckham of Cool Crutches

1. How important is it that product design takes individual requirements into account?

Cool Crutches showcase the importance of design in products, meeting the needs of those that use them. Amelia explained:

“It is vital that individual requirements are analysed, explored, tested and then met during the product design phase. The most important element of our product design for both our crutches and our walking sticks is that they solve problems experienced by people such as myself, who use mobility aids every day. Our crutches and walking sticks tackle these issues through their design, namely:

  • They’re moulded to a left and right-hand grip to avoid  giving you blisters
  • They’re silent to use so won’t click when you walk
  • Our crutches have a rotating and removable cuff, our walking sticks have a removable strap to ensure they won’t fall to the floor when you open a door (or carry a glass of wine!)
  • The rubber bottom is cushioned to prevent jarring in upper body joints as well as being non-slip to prevent slipping as much as possible
  • They’re medically designed, tested and certified for use, so above all else they are safe and will instil confidence not fear through using them
  • They are available in a wide range of colourful prints and designs so there is no sign of hospital grey, you can even print your own design and make them completely unique!”

2. What were the stages of creating your range of products?

Amelia explained that the main stages of creating a new product include market research, meeting suppliers, testing and tweaking before organising promotion and fulfilment.

“Living in hospital for the best part of 12 months had many lows but the highs included a huge base for market research both via doctors as well as patients, we asked extensive questions throughout my time as well as being able to test samples to really hone in on the exact elements design-wise, we needed to create the best crutches we could. 

“We then attended as many trade fairs as we could both within the UK as well as internationally to meet as many suppliers as possible, to understand what was out there and who would be best to help us turn our dream into a reality.

“Once we had found our main supplier, we began working on a prototype before bringing it into hospitals to then be tested by other patients as well as myself.  This led to some tweaking and aesthetic design creation in different colours and prints before we were ready to launch our first line of crutches.

We then created a website and sourced a fulfilment house to store and ship the sticks before launching in 2006.”

3. How do you come up with new designs?

With so many designs, as well as the ability for customers to design their own, Cool Crutches has done a fantastic job of allowing people to personalise their own crutches and walking sticks. We asked Amelia how she comes up with the different ideas.

“We are always looking!  Whenever we see anything we think might work, we tend to create digital mock-ups of the designs so we can then ask our customers what they think. For every design we launch, we create two versions at the design stage, we then run a vote via email and social marketing before confirming and printing.

“We look at any specific trends which may be coming, we also ask lots of questions both in our marketing but also whenever we speak to customers to really gauge what the demand is.  

“Because we have the option for customers to print their own design, this too is often a big indication if something is particularly popular.  For example, florals are always a huge request from March as Spring arrives and more glitter/sparkle designs towards Christmas.”

4. What has the feedback been like for Cool Crutches’ life-changing products?

“The feedback is by far the best bit, it’s absolutely incredible and really is what gets us out of bed every morning to drive the business.  From one lady saying it was like swapping a Skoda for a Ferrari, to people regularly saying it’s given them the confidence to go out and live their life without being scared of falling or what people think etc.  To be completely honest, the feedback is by far the most consistently strong element of what we do and as long as that remains, we will continue to work as hard as possible to make the crutches available to as many as possible, for as little as possible.”

5. What has been a personal highlight since you launched Cool Crutches?

“Honestly the response to the products. After the success of our crutches, we decided to launch walking sticks in 2019 and we were a little nervous given the market is more saturated with walking sticks.  We need not have worried, the response has been as good if not better!  I’m not sure it will be much longer before our walking stick sales take over our crutches, just brilliant.”

6. I see you have many celebrity supporters and have featured on the likes of This Morning. What would be your top tips to grow awareness of products or messaging?

Cool Crutches has seen an 800% rise in sales over the past year, with celebrity fans such as Olly Murs and Amanda Holden helping to drive demand. Amelia shared her top tips to grow awareness:

Cool Crutches - Disability Pride Month

“This is something I think is entirely down to understanding the different elements of marketing, my top 3 would be: Social, PR and email. There are so many free resources online which will take you through how to nail each one.  Spend time understanding how each element works and then go for it.  Invest in your website, decent product photography and tailor every approach you make to the person you make it to, never blanket email a prospect, it can do more damage than sending nothing. 

Cool Crutches

“When it comes to PR and landing coverage,  my advice would be to hone in on your USPs, invest in decent photography of your products and use your common sense.  For example, if Simon Cowell broke his leg he is unlikely to want to buy himself a pair of crutches, but if his friends and family are anything like mine, they will be desperate to help.  Approach with caution, never assume someone will want your products and take any wins as a stroke of luck!”

7. What’s next for Cool Crutches and how can our readers stay up to date?

If you’re looking to buy crutches or walking sticks, or are interested in keeping up to date with Cool Crutches’ Story, visit their website for more information.

“We are working on so many new designs including a pride rainbow one in time for July which is disability pride month!  We are also working on some new products so to keep updated, sign up to our mailing list via our website (what’s more, you’ll receive a code for 10% off your first order too!).”