Why do I make Grippitz gloves?
It's an under-statement to say that life changed in a huge way for me, my family, and friends when I broke my neck in September 2000,.One moment I was a fit, able-bodied guy about to embark on the journey of a lifetime. The next moment I became paralysed from the chest down, with very little use of my arms and hands.
I was always an active guy, so I found the feeling of being utterly motionless, stuck, trapped, and useless wholly unbearable. I knew I had to fight my paralysis with everything I had. I believed that if I fought hard and long enough, I could recover and walk out of hospital within 6 months. This did not happen; my injury was too severe. The reality of my paralysis was very hard to accept. Nevertheless, I resolved to work hard and managed to regain some strength in my arms – I was determined to be as independent as possible.
This is obviously my story, but the cold reality is that many, many people have similarly painful stories. Although the details vary, the physical and emotional challenge to regain some sense of dignity and independence is just as hard for all of us. This painful challenge is only made harder by the lack of suitable products that facilitate some independence for people with a disability. This has been the driving force that's pushed me to create Grippitz. We all deserve a chance, at least, of having the the satisfaction of self-determination; at least some independence.
For me, being independent meant being mobile by using a wheelchair. But how the hell do you push a wheelchair when your hands don’t work properly? Well, the simple answer is that you need gloves, very good pushing gloves. I tried loads of different gloves to help me push my wheelchair, but most of them were no good. The ones I found that did work were either very expensive, didn’t last long or didn’t perform in the way I wanted. After a few years of making do with the gloves that were available, I figured out that I was using my hands like my feet, so why not dress them in the same way? An interesting side note is the in German the direct translation for glove is 'hand shoe' - handschue.
Anyway, I had to asked several cobblers to sew shoe soles on to cycling gloves for me, as many wouldn't help out. And although this mostly worked, it wasn’t ideal. I was buying expensive gloves that didn’t really meet the mark, to only then hand over more money to cobblers to modify them, not always with resounding success. I needed to make my own gloves. I worked out a design to suit my needs and ability, then got to work, learning how to sew.
Having finally found a design that works and figured out how to put them together, I decided to share these gloves with everyone else who might be struggling with similar issues. GRIPPITZ gloves, were undoubtedly borne out of necessity and from my own frustration, but my hope is that they just might be what you’re looking for.
However, I'll be the first to admit that they are not perfect…at least not yet! I have made many customized solutions for different customers, and constantly feed those ideas into modifying and/or refining the GRIPPITZ glove design. So, if you have any thoughts, ideas or particular problems with the gloves that you are currently using, please do feel free to email or ring me anytime - my phone is always on 07717861069. I'd love to discuss your design ideas or specific needs that you may have to help you be independent too.