A Lincolnshire mum designs and makes eco-friendly disability clothing for children and recently won an award to help the growth of her business.
Michelle Best, 29, was born in South Africa before moving to Gainsborough at the age of three.
In January 2019 she launched her business Blossom & Best, creating clothing for children with any physical or mental disability that is also sensory and autism friendly.
Michelle has two children, seven-year-old Yasmin and Austin, who is five. When Yasmin was younger she suffered with incontinence issues and she is also undergoing diagnosis for autism.
Finding suitable and affordable clothing to suit different special needs can prove challenging, and Michelle realised many other parents were in the same boat and launched her business.
She wanted to reduce stress for parents/carers and make children feel more confident and comfortable.
This inspired the mother of two to design a collection of handmade disability clothing, including her now award-winning Magic Pants that helped her daughter become happier and less anxious.
Magic Pants are priced at £23 and provide an affordable alternative to ‘pull-up’ pants as they can be reused, as well as being comfortable and absorbent. They look just like standard underwear, which also reduces anxiety for children.
In December last year, Michelle was one of 64 people to receive a 2020/21 Young Innovators Award and has customers from all over the world requesting bespoke products from her.
As a result of her award, which is supported by Innovate UK and The Prince’s Trust, Michelle will receive specialist business coaching and a £5,000 grant to help grow her business further.
It will also enable her to engage with a manufacturer who can help her increase production later this year.
Michelle’s product range continues to grow and includes peg feed covers, tracheostomy covers, seamless items, specially designed dungarees, rompers, and sleep-suits, and fully adaptable trousers with magnetic closure to make it easier to change a child in a wheelchair.
In addition, she also has PICC line covers to help children with cancer and brail t-shirts and luggage tags. The brail products are embroided and can be worn by parents/carers and the children.
Michelle can also take bespoke requests and create new products to fit the specific size and needs of children with different disabilities.
The products are all trialled before release and suitable for children from 12 months old to age 12-13.
In the future, Michelle wants to expand the range and release products for adults and elderly people with disabilities.
She told The Lincolnite: “I love it. It is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.
“It has grown very quickly. I would love to scale up to bring out more products and distribute wider and into retail to help fight the stigma around incontinence and other issues.”
Michelle is also launching a #fightthestigma campaign to tackle child incontinence and will be working with charities to raise awareness of the issue in the coming months.
She also supports small fabric suppliers in the Lincolnshire area wherever she can when making her products.