Meet the Mannequal.
The spending power of disabled people in the UK is £249 billion. It is for this reason that the government is urging businesses to champion the accessibility of products and services to disabled people, with the incentive to them of tapping into a share of this huge financial bonus. It’s also – on a simple, less “dollar signs in the eyes” level – what everyone should be doing anyway. It’s 2017.
A leader in this equality vanguard is Sophie Morgan, the television presenter turned entrepreneur who, at 18 years old, was paralysed from the chest down following a car accident. She will have to use a wheelchair for the rest of her life. Most people know Sophie from her TV endeavours, highlighting the issues and challenges facing disabled people around the world, and her turns as a presenter, most memorably in Channel 4’s coverage of the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro. But it was Sophie’s endeavour into the mannequin world that caught sfd’s attention.
In order to provide a solution to the lack of representation of wheelchair users in retail, Sophie developed the Mannequal – a wheelchair for a mannequin that has already been seen in windows on one of the world’s busiest retail thoroughfares, London’s Oxford Street. The chair is now set to be put firmly in the spotlight in a BBC News segment that will be aired on 22 February, as Sophie is interviewed by BBC’s Disability Correspondent, Nikki Fox.
To support the segment, which came at short notice, Sophie asked sfd to create a chair in her original design to be again showcased near Oxford Street. It was the first time in five years that Sophie had seen the chair in situ and she was, rightly, very excited that the opportunity was once again opened for it to change the way that mannequins are represented to include wheelchair users.
Now hoping that retailers will awaken themselves to the opportunity of this spending power – which has become known as the “purple pound” – Sophie is ready to partner with sfd to supply the Mannequal and bring its diversity and inclusion to the high street. The Mannequal allows any male or female mannequin (those that can sit, of course) and is available in many finishes, offering a fully customisable service.