In News & Blog, Peer Profiles, Tech & Innovation, The Spin Magazine

Coquitlam’s Derek Jezewsky has always enjoyed dressing and looking smart. With his new business, he’s overjoyed to be helping other peers discover—or rediscover—their own fashion sense.

Derek Jezewsky wearing blue technical jacket and black jeans. He's in his wheelchair on a gravel pathway looking over his right shoulder
Derek Jezewsky wearing blue/green technical jacket and jeans, both designed specifically for wheelchair users.

“I’ve always been pretty fashion aware,” says 25-year-old Derek Jezewsky. “Growing up, I was always taught to put my best foot forward and dress for the job you want—which was easy to do able-bodied, but putting your best wheel forward is a little harder. I think the hardest part is finding clothes that fit in the right places while seated, without being uncomfortable.”

Jezewsky grew up in Fraser Lake, in Northern BC. A self-described adrenaline junkie, he found himself pursuing a career in motocross racing at the age of 19. Those aspirations were sidelined in 2017, when Jezewsky sustained a T6/7 injury in a crash during a race in Kelowna.

Cool clothing line from the Netherlands created specifically for wheelchair users

After rehab, he embraced wheelchair basketball, and it wasn’t long before he played his way onto our national team. And that’s how he discovered Kinetic Balance—a world leader in fashion for wheelchair users based in the Netherlands.

“When I was living in Toronto, training with Team Canada, a friend of mine had come into the gym with a package from Kinetic Balance,” says Jezewsky. “He had pulled some things out and I automatically fell in love with the clothing. I think that for a lot of people, including myself, being in a wheelchair can be a foreign feeling. For many of us, we feel like people are staring. Pants that bag and shirts that bunch add to that feeling—they don’t inspire confidence. I think that’s why I fell in love with the idea of accessible clothing. It was cool, hip threads for people like me.”

kinetic3

When Jezewsky took a deeper dive into the Kinetic Balance website, he discovered the company specializes in premium clothing—jeans, pullovers, jackets, bags and more—that had clearly been thoughtfully created for wheelchair users. For example, all the company’s jeans are sewn from four-way stretch fabric that stays in place during transfers, reduces skin friction, and doesn’t create pressure on the abdomen. Both men’s and women’s versions come in regular or slim fit, and have either a magnetic or button fly, and in styles for men and women.

How do you reduce shipping costs? Sell the product from Canada!

But while he loved the clothes, he was shocked at the price of shipping to North America.

“It was insane!” he says. “So fast forward three years later. I couldn’t get the amazing clothing brand out of my head but was so hung up on the shipping. I pulled out my computer and drafted up a message to the company, proposing the idea of me selling their products over on my side of the world. Of course, I had no expectations of them getting back to me—they are an incredibly established clothing brand and I’m just a guy wanting to help others find clothes that make them feel as confident as they should. But I eventually heard back from a very eager accessible clothing brand that wanted to do business with me.”

Jezewsky and the company owners arrived at an arrangement that saw him acquire the North American rights to the clothing line. All of this happened as Jezewsky, along with his girlfriend Madison Olds, returned to BC from Toronto, setting up their new home and business in Coquitlam in 2020.

Jezewsky and Olds now find themselves with an increasingly popular E-Commerce website, where Canadians and Americans can discover and purchase the entire Kinetic Balance line. We asked him about his favourites.

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“Everything is my favourite!” he says. “But joking aside, every one of the clothing pieces serves a different purpose and they do it so well. If I had to pick a few things I can’t live without, I would include the Raindek Original because it’s a must for any wheelchair user as nobody likes a wet lap, the 3-1 Jacket as it’s the perfect fall or spring jacket with a perfect cut, and obviously a pair of the slim fit jeans. The legs are absolutely perfect as there is no ankle showing and no back pockets, and they’re high cut in the back, so no matter how many times you transfer, they do not fall down and they feel normal.”

He stocks almost all of the company’s products, and if he doesn’t have an item and it’s in stock in the Netherlands, it’s only about a one-week turnaround.

Dream come true helping others find clothes that make them feel confident

As for the daily business of running the company, Jezewsky couldn’t be happier.

“Growing up, I always wanted to have my own company, so to me this is a dream come true. But from an SCI standpoint, I think a lot of people who don’t deal with SCI daily don’t realize how quickly things happen and how important it is to be able to have a flexible schedule; a safe space and time to be able to take care of yourself when you need to. So I would absolutely say my business is a perfect fit for me and I’m so grateful that my job doesn’t feel like a job at all, but more like a passion. We care so much about quality of life and being confident and comfortable in the things we wear. Kinetic Balance is a safe place for anybody looking to find those things.”

You can learn more and discover the entire clothing line at kinetic-balance.ca. Readers of The Spin can get 15 percent off their order—use the coupon “TheSpin” at checkout.

cover photo of The Spin Fall 2021 issue featuring a man with quadriplegia using an external neurostimulation device
This article originally appeared in the Fall 2021 issue of The Spin. Read more stories from this issue, including:
  • Neuropathic Pain Remedies
  • Wheelchair Repairs
  • BC Accessibility Act

And more!

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