330800-local-disabled-clothing-company-named-scotlands-most-innovative-small-businessWhen Edinburgh mother Claudia Romero began designing clothes for her disabled son Christian, she had no idea of the impact her idea was about to have.

Diagnosed as severely disabled since birth, her gorgeous little brown-haired boy had already beaten the doctor’s terrifying odds of being unable to survive longer than his first year.

But the day-to-day challenge of caring for a fast-growing child unable to move for himself was becoming increasingly difficult.

“He cannot move at all by himself and, as I’m quite a small person, it was getting more physically difficult for me to handle him,” said mother-of-three Claudia.

“When it came to dressing him, I found that after he turned four, it was really hard to get clothes that fit him comfortably.

“At his special needs school, a lot of other families were experiencing the same problem, with most only having the option of jogging bottoms to wear, that could fit round nappies and still be comfortable.”

But Claudia was determined that her son should not just be able to have the chance to wear comfortable clothing – but also be able to have a choice of garments that looked smart and fashionable too.

  (Christian Romero proudly wearing his specially designed clothes)
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“A friend of the family helped to modify some trousers for him, specially designed with flaps to accommodate his feeding tube in his stomach, and with carefully constructed straps to make it easy to dress him without having to turn him over,” explains Claudia.

“At the time, Christian wasn’t in great health and was frequently in and out of hospital. When he was there in his specially designed trousers, the nursing staff commented how happy they were with the clothing – and importantly, how useful it was for them to be able to change him and access his tubes more speedily.

“They said it took just five minutes compared to 20 minutes to change him, and the garments also went a long way in reducing back injuries for them, as the clothes could be put on without having to pick Christian up or move him.”

With verbal support from the nursing staff, Claudia received the encouragement she needed to launch her idea for a disabled clothing range.

  (From left to right: Fashion Director, Bernardita Reyes and Founder Claudia Romero)
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It has been almost two years now since Christian returned to better health – and in that time incredible things have happened to his mother too.

With support from her husband and designer friend Bernardita Reyes, Claudia launched disabled clothing company CAPR-Style in March 2014, named after her son’s initials.

Since then, the dynamic range of fashionable, tailored clothing has attracted a growing fan base not just in Scotland, but across the UK and America.

The online website they have launched, features a style guide for adults and carers too, to help explain the varying options and their uses.

  (Design copyright: CAPR – Style)
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  (CAPR Style)
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“We had a lot of good feedback from parents and professionals,” said Claudia.

“Our base is still very much in Scotland, and we encourage local student designers to come and work with us too.

“We don’t hold stock, but we have standard lines and patterns instead which are then sized to each child or adult’s needs.”

Claudia and her small team of four work with individual clients who may have very specific needs, for example feeding tubes, or an inability to wear long sleeved garments.

  (CAPR style team)
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“We have one young girl in Fife at the moment who doesn’t like to wear things on her arms or legs, so at the moment she’s pretty much only comfortable in her underwear. Because of that, her carer cannot take her out in public as much, so we’re helping to design specific clothes which will help,” said Claudia.

“We didn’t expect to get where we are today at all – it’s been quite a journey, but we’re very proud.”

Things are only set to grow even bigger for Claudia and the team, with plans in the offing to open a store to give clients an even greater range of options.

  (All the CAPR-Style clothing is handmade.)
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They have also just been named Scotland’s Most Innovative Small Business and are in the running for the Great Faces of British Business competition for the national prize of £30,000 of marketing and PR to branch out further.

The awards, Claudia said, the team are proud to accept – but the real prize, after all, is one happy little boy.

“All of Christian’s clothes are now made by us which is special,” said Claudia.

“I just wanted him to have the same right as everybody else to dress smartly, in comfort, and to have the same amount of wardrobe options.

“He deserves to look just as great as everyone else.”

  (Christian, aged five, wearing the clothing specially designed for him.)
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If you would like to know more about CAPR-Style you can visit their webpage and meet the team.

By Laura Piper

STV Glasgow