In the summer of 2003, at the age of 21, I made a decision that changed my life. Due to some rainy weather, instead of going to a massive summer Volleyball tournament / festival concert, my friends and I decided to go to one of their cottages instead. It was there where my life would change forever. I decided on a whim to do a running dive off of a long dock attached to the shore. Little did I know that the water level was very low that year. It took several agenizing moments my friends jumped in after me. I knew I was paralyzed immediately.
After spending 33 days in the ICU, I was finally able to get off a ventilator. Once I was stable enough, I was transferred to the Ottawa Rehabilitation Center where I spent the next 9 months learning how to live my life in this new body.
I got through it with the love and support of my amazing family and friends. My Mother is a single mom who had always been my rock. After my accident, she had a couple of angels reach out and offer their help. Community leader, and Owner of the Emporium Furniture Store in Ottawa Michael Power, and Heather Lillico stepped up and began making calls to pull a village together to get me home. Tens of thousands of dollars in renovations needed to happen before I could come home. The community came together and donated their time and products to help get the house ready for me and my accessibility needs. Without the help of so many angels, I don’t know where we would be. It is through this showing of love and support that I knew I wanted to give back.
As a young man I always loved fashion. Like most people, the way I dressed was part of my identity. I loved looking good. Looking good always made me feel good. One day, post injury, while getting ready for my friend’s birthday party, I was excited to wear a new outfit I had recently purchased. Sadly, I quickly discovered it didn’t fit. The clothing lines that I cherished pre-injury could no longer be worn. The cuts were wrong, the seams were in bad locations for the seated body, buttons and zippers were poorly placed, and so much more. I was so angry and frustrated that there weren’t more options for adaptive fashion. It was then that I decided to start Iver Fashion.
I rolled up to my desk and started typing up my plan. Using eye tracking software, I wrote every detail of every piece I wanted to make. After months of hard work, and after sending to my mentor at the time, my plan was submitted to Algonquin College’s Applied Research & Innovation Project (ARIP). Out of 30 submissions, I was selected as the winner.
Over the next 4 months I worked closely with the team to develop my business.
Since then, I have worked tirelessly as a fashion designer, entrepreneur, accessibility advocate, and voice for change for members of the wheelchair user's community.
Giving back is a BIG part of our mission. Proceeds from the sale of this line not only offset the high cost of custom clothing for members of the W.U.C., but portions will also be set aside to help single parent families with a child who has suffered a spinal cord injury.