Hello Yello Clothing was ‘officially created in late 2017. But its true beginning was months earlier, inspired by my sister during her final stages of a terminal illness.
The illness didn’t come as a complete surprise. My beautiful, vibrant and funny sister had lived a full life with a rare form of stomach cancer for almost twenty years. We all lived with the hope that she would continue to do so into her old age. But in 2016 she became critically ill. “Two to four weeks,” the doctors said. She fought a remarkable battle and lived for a further 16 months.
During this time an abundance of cards, emails, flowers and gifts were sent by generous family and friends from all over the world to my sister in the US. Word had soon got out that nightdresses would also be useful. Soon, beautifully embroidered sleepwear was packaged and posted from all corners of the globe.
Living in Australia, I took trips to visit many times over those last 16 months, and communicated almost daily. On one of my early visits, it became clear the well-intentioned nightdress gifts just didn’t feel right to her. She had always worn pyjamas, but as her condition became more serious, pyjamas were also problematic.
At this time, my sister had a G–tube inserted through her abdomen to drain the contents of her stomach into a bag. The bag needed to be lower than her stomach at all times or the contents of her stomach would flow back causing her to vomit. When she slept she would clip the bag onto the side of her bed or have it on the floor. As a result, she couldn’t wear conventional pyjamas as the tube from her stomach would get caught on the waist band of the pyjama bottoms and pull at her stomach painfully. So instead she slept in a pyjama top and underpants.
Which was fine…until visitors came. She wanted to wear pyjamas bottoms so she could have visitors come into her bedroom without feeling self-conscious about being half-naked or that she had to get dressed.
So I decided to shop around! The vast majority of my shopping is done online, including clothes. When I had three children all under the age of sixteen months, internet shopping saved my sanity. I confidently told my sister I would be able to find pyjamas on the internet that would fit her needs. A simple slit in the side of the pyjama bottoms for her tube to pass through would have solved the problem. I was not been able to find a pair of pyjamas that fitted her needs. I tried to adapt a few pairs of pyjamas for her, without much success. But pyjama design was only one part of my sister’s wardrobe which needed a rethink.
She would have loved to have trousers that could hide her bag on the inside, “so I don’t scare small children when I go out” as she once told me, tongue in cheek (although, it should be noted that children were always the most fascinated by her medical condition). She would have also appreciated T-shirts and bras that she could put on without having to remove her IV every time – little things that would have made getting dressed so much easier.
We were astounded. Finding clothing that was not only practical but that my sister actually liked was a major struggle. During our search, we became even more surprised by the lack of clothing that was available for people who did not ‘fit the norm’ more generally.
Sure, my sister had a rare condition. We could understand why it was difficult to find clothing for her. But we couldn’t understand why there was such a lack of options for people from larger groups – such as people who use a wheelchair, those with PICCS and ports, and people with dexterity issues who find buttons and zippers difficult. These people must make up a significant portion of the global clothing market, surely?
By the time we found some suitable clothes, my sister was close to the end of her courageous battle with cancer. So many generous friends had kindly sent well-meaning gifts, but had we known about the clothing options out there (albeit limited), money could have been better spent on clothes that helped my sister live more independently and lifted her spirits. And, if only my sister lived long enough to benefit from the help that I hope Hello Yello can provide people in her situation.
Yes… Hello Yello Clothing has been created in honour of my sister. But it is also in honour of those who have similar logistical clothing challenges. It is time that everyone has the opportunity to present themselves to the world with the ease, dignity and style they deserve.
To Be Yourself !
We would really love your help by completing our short survey at the link below, where you can share your experiences and your story to help inspire others and share ideas:
Thank you for taking your time to read this, and to complete the survey. It means a lot to me, as it would have my sister.