Pediatric Surgeon Dr. Julie Sanchez first saw a need for adaptive apparel in 2015. She met a concerned parent who opened her eyes to how placing a medical device in a child would impact daily life for families. Dr. Sanchez felt a responsibility to provide solutions to her patients to make their lives better outside the operating room. But the available solutions were limited or worse—beige and boring! Teaming up with fashion designer Saba Kamaras, they founded Spoonie Threads. Together, they set out to create adaptive clothing that merges style with functionality.
Dr. Sanchez first saw a need for adaptive apparel in 2015.
Dr. Sanchez: I remember the day a mom shared with me her challenges in caring for her 4-year-old autistic son. He was recovering from having a gastrostomy tube (g-button) placed. I went to her and reassured her that he was doing just fine. To my surprise, she started crying. Her son didn't have the ability to understand the importance of keeping his clothes on, and now, she needed to find a way for him not to pull out this new G-button.
I was ashamed that I had never stopped to think how placing a medical device would impact my patients or their families’ daily activities. I started asking my patients, and I learned that parents were taking turns staying up all night guarding their baby’s new g-button, scared their baby would get tangled in the tubing or the g-button would get pulled out. Children had refused to go back to school or participate in sports, scared their g-button would come out or afraid of being laughed at by other kids. Spoonie Threads was born out of this experience and community need. As a company, our goal is to create empowerment and freedom through fashion.
In 2018 Saba joined the team to launch partnerships with fashion companies who saw the need for inclusive design, such as Zappos Adaptive and American Eagle's Aerie brand.
Saba: I had worked for 8 years as a fashion designer in New York City and I was searching for a way to design with more purpose. My niece Eva was born with a form of terminal muscular dystrophy and had a g-tube put in when she was just a few days old. I saw how often her parents had to undress her to access her tube and saw that a simple design modification would make the process a lot easier. I started researching adaptive clothing and realized the massive need for additional options, and the tremendous opportunity that this space held. While getting my MBA at UT Austin, I got connected with Dr. Sanchez who was already working on this idea. We joined forces and ever since, we've been working to create beautiful and functional adaptive clothing and accessory items. We design all our items by listening to the people in the disability and chronic illness community, incorporating their feedback, and getting their approval before launching anything new.
Why "Spoonie Threads?"
Learn more about how we chose the name Spoonie Threads in this video with Dr. Julie and Saba.
What is a Spoonie?
The Spoon Theory is an analogy to describe what daily life is like when living with chronic illnesses or disabilities, originally created by Christine Miserandino.
Imagine that a handful of spoons represents the amount of energy one has in a single day. Every single task – like showering, getting dressed, and eating breakfast – costs a spoon. A chronically ill individual might run out of spoons before lunchtime, while a healthy individual may have spoons to spare at the end of the day.