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The Inspiration Behind Monarch:

Françoise Blanchette

My mother lived with Alzheimer’s for the last 5 years of her life, much of that time confined to a wheelchair. As a caregiver, I had the honour of accompanying her along this journey. Regardless of the challenges, I am grateful to have spent the time together, sharing in daily activities like dressing, eating, bathing or just being quiet and comforting.

On one of my regular visits to her longterm care home, I noticed that she seemed a bit out of sorts, so I leaned forward to give her my usual hug. As I wrapped my arms around her I was shocked to feel her bare back. Her adaptive garments were spread wide open with the fabric pushed to the sides of her back. Her exposed skin was red and irritated and areas where she had been leaning on the bunched-up fabric had raised welts, threatening to turn into pressure sores.

I had never previously been inclined to bend my mother forward to check the back of her clothes. But from that day on, I routinely checked and adjusted my Mom’s clothing. I would strain to bend her forward in her wheelchair while at the same time smoothing the garment’s fabric layers along her back. This was a challenging task, especially without assistance.

In trying to solve this recurring issue, I modified a shirt hoping to provide her coverage, comfort, less pain during dressing and the dignity she deserved. I presented her with my first, unbeknownst to me, of many prototypes of a redefined adaptive garment. It wasn’t as successful as I would have liked, but I knew that she could see I was trying to help.

Sadly, my mother passed away in the spring of 2016 before I had solved the dressing challenge.

My first reaction following my mother’s death was to leave that home, that dreaded disease and the emotional roller coaster of caregiving and seeing my mother suffer. I had enough. However, two weeks later I found myself working on improving the clothing concept, having come to the conclusion that I could and should help others who are struggling, as my mother and I did.

I also realized something very significant: caregivers needed better solutions to provide dressing assistance. The garments available at the time were difficult to put on properly, often included Velcro which easily damages the skin, and the designs did not work with the mobility limitations of those confined to a wheelchair or who are bedridden.

As a former caregiver, I am immensely proud of the result of approximately 3 years of designing, prototyping and testing to present a dressing solution that is comfortable, easy-to-use, easy-to-wear and respects that everyone wants to feel good by dressing in fashionable clothes. We truly believe Monarch’s clothes are revolutionary. They consider the mechanics of dressing, an ailing body’s need for comfort and respect that timeless desire for being stylish – even in a wheelchair or a bed.

The Monarch Collection has provided me an incredible opportunity to honour my mother and help others who are travelling this journey. She was a proud and generous person, and a brilliant seamstress with an entrepreneurial mind. She would be happy to know she has inspired our mission of providing beauty and comfort. I hope you are as proud to provide these clothes as we are.

Easy to wear. Easier to care.

– Kristine