Monarch Clothing provides accessible clothing to those with Alzheimer’s

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Wilfrid Laurier University alumna Patricia Quinn is the chief executive officer of Monarch Clothes, a Waterloo-based company that has developed a clothing line targeting women and men with physical impairments, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Quinn graduated from Laurier’s Bachelor of Business Administration program. She then went on to work for IBM as a technical advisor.

Monarch’s co-founder and president, Kristine Goulet, also worked at IBM and after both leaving the company, they crossed career paths once again two years ago to form Monarch Clothes.

“I have a long-time friend, [Kristine Goulet], who is now my business partner. Her mother was living with Alzheimer’s. What my partner has found was that dressing her in normalized street clothes or dressing her in other adaptive clothing solutions that were available at the time was un-satisfactory — for both her as a caregiver, as well as for her mom,” Quinn explained.

“Most people don’t know how to change an adult,” Quinn added. “It’s a very physically challenging ritual because of the size of the individual and sometimes depending on the state of the disability, they are unable to help in the dressing process. She found that the solutions weren’t suit-able to provide the dignity, the comfort, and the fashion perspective [of getting dressed].”

“We’ve come up with a clothing design that is really considering the two-person dressing experience … we looked at the body mechanics of the person being dressed and the person doing the dressing and thought, there’s got to be a simpler solution,” Quinn said.

“While we initiated our product marketing on the senior market, because of the personal experience with my partner’s mother having Alzheimer’s, the reality is that people who have disabilities extend well beyond the senior group,” Quinn added.

Quinn and Goulet’s design allows for a significantly reduced amount of body manipulation by 75 per cent for the person being dressed.

The wrap-around and snap button design makes the dressing process more accessible and comfortable.

Monarch Clothes has a wide variety of shirts, blouses, pants, shawls and scarfs, all available through their e-commerce website.

The clothing line is manufactured specifically to withstand industrial washing machines that one would find in care homes.

Also, the company’s founders paid special attention to detail and designed the clothing to create as little stress on the body as possible.

“We’ve also continued to build relationships with care homes … and we’ve been doing everything from pop-up trunk shows, hosting demonstrations with caregivers and professional caregivers, in order to build the awareness that there is an alternative solution,” Quinn said.

Monarch has been established at Waterloo’s Accelerator Centre’s Jump Start program and is now operating at the Reactor space. This program is currently hosting over 30 early-stage start-up businesses in the region.

The company has patents pending for their adaptive clothing solution and are expanding their market to men, which is in the design process, as well as a younger demographic.

“While we initiated our product marketing on the senior market, because of the personal experience with my partner’s mother having Alzheimer’s, the reality is that people who have disabilities extend well beyond the senior group,” Quinn added. “We can all benefit from an easier dressing solution.”

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