How Fashion Accessories Have Given a New Look to Hearing Handicap

This is the story of my friend Nathalie.
She had the courage to create a social enterprise to promote a different way of looking at people with a handicap. How? By empowering them, starting from feeling beautiful like everyone else.

Nathalie Birault is the founder of Odiora, a responsible, French, fashion brand (http://www.odiora.fr/). She was my boss when I did my stage in Lyon (France) last summer.
Before knowing her, I had never heard of hearing handicap: what I knew was that when we get old, we often lose the ability to hear as well as a young person…

Nathalie is in her 30s now and she started to hear less when she was only 12. From that moment, she needed to use hearing aids all day long. We can say it here: everyone agrees about how nasty the aids were at the time.

It makes you think about elderly people?

When she went to Tahiti, to visit her dad during the military service, she discovered a beautiful culture, based on symbols and visual signs. We all know the red tiare flower, gently leaning on an ear, don’t you?

This beautiful flower has different meanings:
– worn behind your right ear, it means you are single, available;
– worn behind your left ear it means that you are married, engaged or otherwise taken; 
– worn behind both ears, you are married but still available; 
– worn backwards behind your ear, you are available immediately).
This is a true way to communicate without talking. It’s brilliant!
From this moment, Nathalie started to customize her hearing aids, trying to change the look of the others from her handicap to her person.
When she offered one of her first creations to a little girl, Nathalie understood which way she had to walk down on. Seeing how pride the child was of being so beautiful (yes, you can be beautiful even if you have a handicap!) gave Nathalie the boost she needed to start her entrepreneurial adventure.

She reflected on her mission and in March 2016 she created Odiora. The idea is not to hide the handicap, but to feel comfortable about it and feel great and beautiful despite it.

I had the opportunity to work at her side recently, at the last Audition Saloon in Paris. Once more time, she surprised me with her strength, her desire of talking about her handicap with elegance and feel beautiful like everyone else.
With the next few images of us during this event, I finish this article.

Hope you enjoy it!?

 

www.odiora.fr

With love,
Francesca