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Rackety's clothing for disabled aims to break US market
Annabel McMahon
Annabel McMahon started the company in her bedroom.

Rackety's, the The north Staffordshire clothing firm which makes fashions for people with disabilities and wheelchair users, is aiming to break the American market.

The Leek-based company was set up by designer Annabel McMahon.

It's now grown to fill a unit at Town Yard Business Park, from where it now sells to 22 countries around the world.

Annabel McMahon said: "Undoubtedly, the internet has helped business to snowball."

Annabel was working as a high street fashion designer for Marks and Spencer and Woolworths when she spotted a gap in the market.

"When I was looking at the clothes for people with disabilities, it was very much aimed at the elderly and a bit gloomy and dreary," she said.

"It didn't have much fun and fashion-ability, particularly for the kids, and I thought it would be an interesting design challenge. But you just don't realise when you start how big these things could get!", she added.

Trendy and comfortable

Rackety's makes various items of clothing including swimwear, which has velcro to ensure it's easy to get on and off, back fastening coats for wheelchair users and comfortable pyjamas.

Jackie Griffiths' 10-year-old daughter Tilly is a wheelchair user, and is a model for the Rackety's brand.

Tilly Griffiths
Ten-year-old Tilly Griffiths is a wheelchair user and a model for Rackety's

She said: "Rackety's has brought trendiness and gorgeousness to clothing for children like Tilly."

"It was incredibly important that my daughter felt good and looked good, and just as importantly I could physically dress her easily without it being a struggle."

The firm exports to suppliers in France, Holland and even has orders from Hawaii. Annabel is now keen on cracking the American market.

"We've had quite a few independent orders from America via the internet, so we're building relationships with people and suppliers so they can duplicate what we've been doing in the UK, over there," she said.

Using social networking

The internet has been key to the company's success, using social networking such as Twitter and Facebook, to talk to people on the other side of the world.

Twenty-year-old apprentice Chris Smith runs that side of the business, at the same time for studying for his National Diploma in IT at Leek College.

He said: "With the children being disabled, a lot of the parents are stuck at home so the first thing they turn to is their computer, because that's their gateway to shopping and meeting other parents in the same situation."

"Through networking, we're able to chat to them on a social level and put them in touch with other parents or charities that can help them too."

Life at home with Tilly Griffiths
03 Dec 09 |  People & Places



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