My name is Claudia Romero, I’m Chilean/Spanish and have been living in Edinburgh with my husband for 12 years where we’ve settled. I have 3 boys, Sebastian (aged 10), Santiago (aged 9) and Christian (aged 7).
My Business is CAPR-Style Ltd and have been trading since March 2014. We make adaptive clothing for those with additional needs. Going outside is challenging enough when changing facilities aren’t designed for people with disabilities. We found that many parents/carers or relatives of a disabled person avoid stress by focusing on baggy, loose fitting clothing. Living in a world where their isn’t a great deal of options available it can be difficult to find clothing that appeals to both practicality and style.
However, at CAPR-Style, our clothes aim to do this, improving the quality of life for many people, not only those with disabilities or special needs but their families and carers too. For those who use a wheelchair but have independence, we offer practical solutions encouraging the wearer to do things by themselves. For those that have more complex needs and are fully dependent on others, we have created solutions for both the carers and the disabled. The easy access openings and features are designed for specific purposes and make life easier. Reducing time spent in changing and also reducing risk of injuries in a considerable way.
Our garments are primarily designed to improve the quality of life for a disabled person but as mentioned we don’t give up on style and comfort. We provide the customer with options and a complete range of products which we feel is important.
We have been privileged to be featured in a number of media publications with Able Magazine, The Times Business Clinic, STV online, Scotland on Sunday and BBC Reporting Scotland News. CAPR-Style has also received the Bronze Award in Product by Mumpreneurs and most Innovative Small Business for the GREAT Faces of British Business 2014.
You have an inspiring story with CAPR-Style? Can you explain to our readers why you chose to start it?
Christian has a rare condition called DOORS Syndrome. He is unable to move which makes the dressing process difficult and he also wears nappies. Clothing from the high street doesn’t consider room for nappies after the age of 4. This was an issue so I decided to make some alterations to his clothes by allowing access to his stomach tube (PEG) where he takes his food and medication. This meant I could avoid lifting layers when he had to eat. I also created trousers that open down the sides to avoid lifting him reduce changing times. I found out that actually many other people struggled as I did with practical clothing when it came to this issue. This encouraged me to look at creating an adaptive line of clothing which was not only well designed but high quality and cost effective.
With three young boys, how do you find the time to manage CAPR-Style and family life?
It is very challenging but because the boys are at school from 9 to 3:30 I have that time to do as much as I can do with my team. After school the older boys do their own thing and Christian usually has a nap so I can keep working up to 5pm when the CAPR-Style team leaves. Often the boys are interested in what CAPR-Style is up to so it’s great to teach them about business and get them involved. After 5 I dedicate all my time to my family. Weekends I try to leave completely free to spend all my time with family and friends.
It would be fair to say that you face more challenges than the average mum. What are your top tips to mums who want to start a business?
I don’t like to presume, but I think running a business being a Mum is incredibly challenging as you are constantly working to ensure both your family and business thrive. In my case I think it is even harder as we have a son with a high level of needs, and on top of that all of our extended family live in other continents, my husband’s family lives in Canada and the USA and my family lives in Chile so we are far from everyone and that can be an isolating lifestyle.
My top tips would be:
Use your intuition but always research your market thoroughly. Make sure you understand the needs of the customer and aim to give solutions to an issue. Most importantly, do not try to sell something that you like without testing that others also like it!
Get all the support that you can, there are many free programmes that the government offer including free support and advice. Accelerators and business incubators can help you to understand your market better and help you to decide if you should go ahead or should alter your business idea. We have had a lot of support from local organisations and governmental entities with free seminars and workshops, networking events and also access to plenty of free information, so there is help out there.
Being perseverant is one of the keys to success because is very difficult to hit the market successfully from day one. It is better to grow steadily and keep the quality of your products and service high, than grow too fast without the infrastructure to support the demand.
Finally, as a mum family is a focal point. Make sure that you spend time with your family and create time to enjoy time with them. Balance is key here, but being organised can make sure you get the both of best worlds.
Do you think being a parent has shaped your view on how you do business?
We started CAPR-Style because we were parents and how this effected our lives. The business began because one of my sons needs weren’t being met and also to be as flexible as possible, so I could be at home with him when he needs me or to go with him to his appointments. For me the most important thing in my life are my kids so it’s great my job allows me to focus my time around them. I am able to create great garments for Christian and can help other parents who face similar struggles to myself.
Where do you see yourself and CAPR-Style next year?
We will continue to ensure the quality of our clothing is incredibly high. We will keep working hard to reach a wider audience and connect with more families who may benefit from having our products. We would like to grow steadily and reach international markets in a bigger scale. If that happens we can continue to create new jobs and keep our garment manufacturing in Britain and not mass produce garments in other countries.