From the left: Mahammad Kekalov, Salimat Kekalova and Khatimat Kekalova/ January 2016/ Salimat Kekalova's house, Zaqatala, Azerbaijan.
Kekalove Adaptive is eternally thankful to Mrs. Salimat Kekalova for the inspiration to start this brand.
Mrs. Salimat Kekalova was born on April 01, 1940, in Dagestan, USSR to an ethnically Akhvakh family. She migrated to the Akhvakh community of Zaqatala, Azerbaijan SSR with her husband Qitin-mahammad with hopes to start a family. She lost her husband Qitin-mahammad after a tragic, cold-blooded murder in the 70s. As an uneducated, single mother of 4 children, she made a living in Soviet Azerbaijan by selling produce from her back yard - the basil, lemons and tomatoes she grew, eggs from the chicken she raised, and cream cheese she would make in her kitchen.
Mrs. Salimat Kekalova lived a life full of hardships - she raised her children in poverty. She devoted her life to Allah and lived as a devout Muslim. She gained a severe visual disability in the early 2000s and spent the last 20 years of her life as a woman with a disability.
As a person, she was committed to kindness, compassion, empathy and beauty. Despite all the obstacles she faced due to her disability, she never lost her kind and caring character, bringing affection, courage and love into our lives.
Her oldest grandson Mahammad Kekalov started this brand after observing her challenge with everyday clothing. As her primary caretakers, the Kekalov family fully understood the challenges a disability may pose for people, therefore this brand was launched to support their grandmother with easy-to-wear clothing at her old age.
Mrs. Salimat Kekalova passed away of natural causes on April 05, 2021 at the age of 81. She left many people across the Akhvakh community in Azerbaijan and Dagestan with her sweet memory. Kekalove Adaptive strives to continue her presence in the world with the fashion we make, committed to the same high values Mrs. Kekalova carried during her life.
What's KEKALOVE Adaptive Fashion?
Simply put, Kekalove Adaptive is a fashion brand for wheelchair users. We design clothing specifically to accommodate wheelchair users with their specific needs. We work to really understand how using a wheelchair affects our lives, and especially how we wear clothing every day. And we work to create designs that tackle all the challenges our wheelchairs might create for us. Our job is a good mix of engineering and art as we constantly try to work on extremely functional, visually appealing, and immensely comfortable clothing for our customers.
At Kekalove Adaptive, we all understand how our disabilities might affect us, sometimes negatively. We design our clothing with a firm belief that the world can really be a more inclusive place and it’s young people like us who can take on the challenge and achieve positive change. That’s why we design our clothing with regard to physical ability.
We want to help wheelchair users dress better, look better and feel better. If you also share the same belief in an inclusive future as us, follow us on social media, subscribe to our mailing list, buy our adaptive clothing for yourself or your loved ones, and last but not least, share our work within your community so we can scale our impact.
What's "adaptive clothing"?
We get this question a lot, especially from people who don’t have any disabilities. Imagine you have a visual disability and you are trying to wear a shirt. For those of us without any disabilities, it’s very easy. But what would happen if you realised your head is through the sleeve? You have to restart and do it again. And imagine making the same mistake over and over again, but there is nothing you can do about it. That’s why we need adaptive clothing to be an available option for people with physical disabilities.
Think for yourself how you dress up (assuming you don’t have a disability). You take all these steps subconsciously, instantly, without thinking about the how of your wearing process. But we personally know dozens of people who spend even hours every day merely to get dressed, simply because their clothing doesn’t take their needs into account. And it’s always the individual with a disability, their caretaker, their family members, their loved ones who have to deal with it. We’re here to stop that.
Mahammad Kekalov is the founder and CEO of Kekalove Adaptive Fashion. He’s an award-winning social entrepreneur and an active member of Azerbaijani civil society. He grew up with his visually impaired grandmother in northwestern Azerbaijan and the two of them spent a lot of time together. Mahammad says they were very close and she had a significant impact on his upbringing. They even share the same connection today, despite all the time they had to spend apart when Mahammad left for university. Connect with him on LinkedIn or send him an email if you are interested in connecting or have anything to share with the team.
Co-founder & Creative Director
Rashida Ali is the co-founder and the creative director at Kekalove Adaptive Fashion. She graduated from the University of Languages of Azerbaijan and Azerbaijan State University of Economics. In September 2018, she got involved in the Fashion world. She joined the Kekalove team in 2019. Her very first adaptive design was exhibited at Artim Project Space in October-November, 2019 organized and supported by famous Yarat! Contemporary Art Space in Baku. She fluently speaks English, Spanish, French, Russian, and Turkish.
We believe, and you would probably agree that life is hard when you are wearing clothing that makes you feel uncomfortable. Our mission is to enable persons with disabilities to be their best and confident selves by creating them a comfortable environment through adaptive and trendy fashion. We want to help wheelchair users dress better, look better and feel better.
We envision a truly inclusive world where each and every member have equal access to the same opportunities and chances, get to live their life, enjoy their time, and achieve their best potential regardless of their physical abilities.
We value inclusion with no exceptions, including each and every member of our society without regard to characteristics they could or could not choose. We value the importance of human life, human experiences, human narratives, human emotions. We prioritize humans, and that’s why we can never support discrimination.
We value openness as a person, a community, an organization and the world as a whole. We create the best functional products that we do through interviews, testings, experiments, trial and error. As much as we love to receive open and honest input, we also love to share. We are here with our know-how, our experiences, expertise and knowledge to assist anyone who is interested in our job.
Kekalove Adaptive Fashion is a social business. We understand our work is just gaining momentum and we are proud to be one of the early starters in the adaptive world. We try to learn from people and collectives that were doing adaptive clothing way before we were here and we try to build on that, make it better, and definitely more accessible in our part of the world.
Kekalove Adaptive is the first adaptive clothing brand in Azerbaijan. We put the spotlight on wheelchair users and let the members of the community speak up for themselves. In societies like this we live in, where ableism is prevalent, disability rights are not recognized, accessibility is at the bare minimum, fundamental needs of disabled individuals including healthcare, education and infrastructure are not properly met, we believe it’s actually very important to be vocal about all of the problems of disabiled community and demand change.
Our social impact theory has three tracks:
the impact one Kekalove product has on the world. When a piece of Kekalove clothing is sold, how does that affect the world? Our products help persons with disabilities save time and energy because they are functional and so easy to wear. Time and energy means saving money and increasing well-being. Our users enjoy increased life satisfaction because our products make life easy for them.
the impact Kekalove Adaptive brand has on the fashion industry. When we design adaptive clothing, sketch our ideas, discuss them with manufacturers, talk to our suppliers and other stakeholders, we actively advocate for disability inclusion in the fashion industry. We introduce them to the world of adaptive design and open eyes to how clothing can become a challenge if you have a disability.
We give persons with disabilities a voice in a place that doesn’t often see them. People around us, in our society, people who do and don't know us all get to learn about what it means to live with a disability, what challenges there are for them and how they can be best tackled. Check our website for more of the community voices and information about life with a disability.
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS
KEKALOVE ADAPTIVE FASHION