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Mom Starts Booming Niche Business After Son’s Cochlear Fashion Goes Viral

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Mom

Most moms are superheroes in their children’s eyes, but for one British mother, her son’s struggle with hearing loss made her a hero to countless kids around the world. When Sarah Ivernee’s son Freddie was diagnosed with profound hearing loss at just three months old, she was ready to make whatever sacrifices necessary to give Freddie the best care. At three years old, Freddie underwent cochlear implant surgery, restoring some of the hearing he had lost, and making it easier for him to communicate with his friends and family. 

Unfortunately, while Freddie was not bothered by his implant, Ivernee noticed that other children were. She spoke to a friend whose nine-year-old daughter had also received an implant. Ivernee was surprised to find out the nine-year-old had stopped wearing her cochlear due to the teasing she experienced from other students. Ivernee gave her friend some sparkly stickers and suggested her daughter decorate the hearing aid. This simple gesture changed the little girls’ feelings about her implant so dramatically, it set Ivernee on a mission that has now served kids around the world. 

Confidence Building

Shortly after Freddie’s surgery, Ivernee launched Lugs, a custom-order business that provides kits to fit the external pieces of cochlear implants and other hearing aids. On the Lugs website, Ivernee explains, “We did some research and found there was not a lot available to improve the look of hearing devices and decided there must be something we could do. From this, Lugs were born!” The designs Lugs offers — from superhero-themed to Disney princess-style — have become popular with many satisfied customers, and even their friends who do not have impaired hearing. Says Ivernee, “All children, including Freddie’s little brother Charlie, want to wear Lugs, despite not being deaf! People regularly comment on Freddie’s Lugs and he is so proud to tell them what he is wearing. We hope that Lugs can help your child to love their device and wear them with pride.”  

Lugs can easily be swapped out as children’s interests grow and change. For example, Freddie’s first Lugs kits were Incredible Hulk and Batman-themed, while his most recent kit features heavy metal band AC/DC. Says Ivernee on the Lugs Facebook page, “[Freddie] is rock music mad, and knows all the words to all songs ever made by AC/DC. Handy that I can personalize them for him, got to have some perks!” Many of the page’s comments inquire about when adult Lugs will be available so grown-ups can share in the fun. 

Fashion Forward

Hundreds of happy customers have shared their reactions and photos of their kids wearing Lugs kits on social media. Recent posts highlight a Frozen-themed kit in honor of the Frozen 2 premiere, holiday-themed kits, and perennial favorites like Buzz Lightyear and Despicable Me minions. Accessories are listed by hearing aid type, with guides for how to apply and remove the decorations. 

With nearing 10,000 followers on Facebook and Insta combined, parents are raving about the way the kits make their kids feel. Brian Heraty, whose little one sports a Batman Lug, comments, “Little man in love with his new (ears) and such quality they come in a lovely little gift box will be definitely putting in another order for lots more.” Tabitha Kay Shore shared a photo of her son selecting from a pile of more than a dozen of the accessories, commenting, “Just a boy picking out his daily Lugs…” And Wen Chang Dombrowski notes, “Another great example of end-users coming up with much better designs than ugly medical equipment. This makes [hearing aids] fun, not scary, and really cool!”

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