Shark Tank strikes a deal with UI alum for accessible clothing

Shark Tank deal winner, Erica Cole began working with the idea of prosthetics when she lost her leg in 2018. Since then, she’s created a business called No Limbits to put adaptive clothing for amputees in stores.

Contributed

Contributed

Samantha Bielema, News Reporter


Erica Cole went from dabbling with 3D printers to landing a $100,000 deal on Shark Tank in the span of four years.

The University of Iowa alum, who lost her leg in an accident in 2018, recently successfully pitched her clothing company that makes accessible clothing to lower-half amputees on ABC’s Shark Tank.

“We were just finding that there was just a very basic need that wasn’t being met for people with disabilities,” Cole said.

Cole appeared on the show on April 1, promoting her brand, No Limbits. She presented to the investors and was offered a $100,000 deal from sharks Mark Cuban and Emma Grede.

No Limbits offers many different styles of pants that have zippers on the sides of the leg and above and below the knee, providing easier access to a prosthetic.

Cole said she started dabbling in 3D printed prosthesis covers while she was studying at the UI John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center.

Her interest sparked more and more as time went on, she said.

“There was a pitch competition released by JPEC [John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center] to win a $500 scholarship for pitching a viable business idea,” she said. “I thought, ‘Yeah, why not? I could really use a $500 scholarship.’”

Cole ended up winning the competition and another after that, catapulting her business into action. At this time, she had numerous resources around her idea, she said, and felt she needed to start it up.

She landed her dream job with Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico, right around the same time as Target stores started to take notice of her idea.

“If Target is taking notice, there has to be something here,” Cole said.

Her mission with No Limbits is to push the idea that adaptive clothing is necessary and fashionable. Cole said she tries to have a variety of sizes, lengths, and colors to accommodate anyone who may need the clothing.

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Mary Kay Wojciechowski, 68, from Naperville, Illinois and a lower-leg amputee, said once she’s in the pants she puts on in the morning, she doesn’t change out of them because it’s so difficult.

“When I first saw [Cole’s designs] I thought, ‘Woah, someone is taking the bull by the horns when it comes to clothing, especially for leg amputees,’” she said.

Wojciechowski, who has lupus, said she lost her leg eight years ago because of the medication she takes for her condition. Her amputation changed her life a lot, she said, and has been labor-intensive.

“My main goal in life right now is to preserve what I have and work with what I have,” Wojciechowski said.

She is an avid Shark Tank watcher, and when she heard about Cole’s appearance on the show, she was immediately interested.

Cole said she originally asked to go on Shark Tank next year because the company had just started the manufacturing process, but she ended up going on this season instead.

“It was ultimately the best decision, and I didn’t want to regret not taking a chance to be on Shark Tank,” Cole said.

Wojciechowski said she watched the episode and was captured by Cole’s mission. She said she enjoys seeing people passionate about making the lives of others easier.

“This girl is thinking outside the box, not only because I’m a lower-leg amputee, but because I love working with young people that are creative and that can work autonomously like that,” Wojciechowski said.

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