The Person Behind the Brand – Maura Horton
As with all the brands that we sell at Hello Yello Clothing, MagnaReady® was the result of a labour of love.
When Maura Horton’s husband, Don, was diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson’s disease at the age of 48 he was still working and enjoying an active life. Don, an assistant football coach for North Carolina State, USA, found himself in the locker room after a game in 2008. As the team bus waited outside, he struggled to fasten his shirt buttons as Parkinson’s disease took its first real toll on his independence. Fortunately, quarterback Russell Wilson, who went on to win a Super Bowl with the Seattle Seahawks, was still in the locker room, and he helped his coach button his shirt.
When Don returned home, his wife, Maura Horton, listened to his account of his first real battle in the fight against Parkinson’s, and saw something she had never seen before on his face, an expression of humiliation, fear and sadness.
“You can’t forget that humbling tone when someone is trying to tell you that they’re no longer able to do something,” she recalls.
She quickly learned that adaptive clothing choices were limited, and that they were all positioned for senior citizens, not for vibrant, youthful people who wanted to maintain a sense of style.
Her inspiration for MagnaReady® came one day when Maura closed her magnetic iPad case, and as she heard the metal magnet click on the case and she thought: If a shirt opened and closed the same way as her magnetic tablet case, Don’s button problem would be solved. She set to work prototyping.
A former children’s clothing designer, she experimented to find the ideal combination of magnet strength and fabric thickness that would allow Don to easily fasten the shirt and the closure to hold tightly. It took months, but when she finally found the right combination and sewed the magnets into his shirt, Don loved it.
Horton started MagnaReady to serve a niche market: Those diagnosed with diseases such as Parkinson’s or Multiple Sclerosis. She later realized that her shirts could serve a much wider demographic.
“I call it the silver tsunami,” she laughs. Baby Boomers who suffer from arthritis or a general lack of dexterity (but still want the option of wearing something stylish), are regular MagnaReady customers.
Other clients have included the parents of children suffering from ALS, a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Like Parkinson’s, ALS does not yet have a cure.
Zulu Zakir, 63, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s learned about MagnaReady shirts after reading a news article online.
“I used to have to rely on my wife and my daughter to button me up, so it’s given me independence… but I think it doesn’t stop with Parkinson’s. My daughter is young and she has a fiancé now, and he’s interested because it would be so much easier to wear a shirt [this way] anyway.”
Maura Horton’s shirts are currently available at retailers across the US such as Macy’s, Amazon and JCPenney but until now were not available to Australia. We are excited to be able to bring this life enhancing technology to the Australian market.