This week’s innovation spotlight brings us to a fellow Massachusetts mom and the creator of zipOns pants, Nicole Puzzo and Joanne DiCamillo. ZipOns pants were inspired by Nicole’s daughter Stella who suffers from spastic quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy. At the age of 5 Stella underwent double hip surgery. This major surgery required the use of a spica cast (both legs casted with a bar between) and three months of recovery. Nicole found that there weren’t many options when it came to clothing. The hospital recommended dresses and blankets and this just wasn’t working. 

In an effort to make recovery as comfortable as possible, Nicole created a pair of pants that open completely on both sides using a pair of pajama pants and some velcro. Stella visited her surgeon who saw that the pants not only improved the quality of life for Stella, but could improve the quality of life for many people who cannot fit into conventional clothing. With the encouragement of Stella’s surgeon and after several iterations such as replacing the velcro with zippers, Nicole and long time friend Joanne DiCamillo formed befree LLC.

“Our company is “befree”, and we are the creators of zipOns®, pants that are stylish and functional to meet the needs of the differently abled. Though clothing is a basic human need, for many people with a temporary or permanent disability, it is simply an ongoing daily hardship. The design of zipOns makes dressing and undressing safer, easier and more comfortable. They open completely on the sides with zippers that span from waist to hem, can be taken on and off without going up through the legs and can be widened from the bottom as needed.”

For those of us who are typically abled, we don’t have to put much thought into getting dressed in the morning. We have access to a variety of clothing to provide warmth, to allow for physical activity, project professionalism or to express our creativity. The large population of differently abled deserve the same access to this basic universal need to get dressed in the morning. In clothes, not a blanket. The lack of adaptive clothing is not just a hurdle, but can be a roadblock for those who cannot fit into standard clothing on the market and garments like zipOns pants quite literally changes life for those who need them. We celebrate Nicole and Joanne for recognizing a global need amidst experiencing this hardship first hand. To check out Joanne and Nicole’s designs and to follow them on social media, see below.

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