Award-Winning Entrepreneurs, Forbes 30 Under 30, Disability Activists
When Izzy Wheels founders Ailbhe and Izzy Keane are on stage, their energy and warmth are palpable. It’s not just their brightly coloured clothes that make the multi award-winning sisters stand out. Their positivity, determination and sense of purpose are striking. It’s easy to see why they were named as one of Forbes 30 Under 30 in Europe
The story of Izzy Wheels is a personal one that has seen a college project become a global brand. Izzy, who has spina bifida, regards her wheelchair as a symbol of freedom but felt it never expressed her bubbly personality. Ailbhe, who was studying art at NCAD, designed a range of colourful wheel covers that matched her sister’s exuberant style. Their tagline became ‘If you can’t stand up, stand out!’.
Overnight, what started as a passion project went viral on Instagram and business exploded. Today Izzy Wheels sells to over 35 countries and has collaborated with 80 famous designers across the globe. It’s also featured in some of the world’s biggest publications including Vogue, Forbes, Cosmopolitan, TechCrunch, CBS News, and Oprah Magazine. They have been named among the most talented women entrepreneurs in Europe, and were one of seven Irish female entrepreneurs shortlisted for the prestigious EU Prize for Women Innovators awards.
They now have the biggest brands in the world begging to work with them. In 2019 They became the first disability brand to partner with Barbie to create a new and inclusive wheelchair Barbie doll with matching wheel covers. In 2020 they created a limited-edition collection with the Japanese pop culture icon Hello Kitty.
The sisters’ success shows what can happen when your business is driven not just by innovation but an unshakeable sense of purpose that brings a level of brand integrity that is compelling – and enviable.
In their keynotes, the sisters speak about many things. Successfully combining art with business, as a design company they’re selective about collaborators; the art is respected because the customer is too. In terms of e-commerce innovation, Izzy Wheels shows that you can market successfully with almost no money not only because your product is unique but because what you post is likeable, shareable, and above all, real.
These are also young women entrepreneurs who are helping to break down the stigma of disability by bringing attention to the personality in the wheelchair instead of the wheelchair itself. And they do so seamlessly, partly because they love what they do, but also because it makes business sense to tap into a market whose potential many others overlook.
As a duo, Ailbhe and Izzy are warm, confident, and inspiring. Audiences who hear them speak leave feeling motivated and energised. They became the first Irish people asked to take over Instagram’s official story which had a reach of over 300 million people. They have recently collaborated with Disney so they can feature Disney characters ad an integral part of their bold designs for wheel covers.
You may want to go deeper into a topic for your audience. The keynote topics can be tailored and developed to suit your audience needs, be it a 90-minute Masterclass, a half-day or full-day workshop or a full online or face-to-face programme. Please contact one of our expert team to discuss.
- Diversity and Equality
- Social Inclusion
- Social Media
- Entrepreneurship and Innovation
- Marketing and Branding
- Women in Business
‘We have had the privilege of having Ailbhe and Izzy Keane speaking at some of our larger events like Inspirefest and International Women’s Day and more intimate fireside chat-style meetings with some of our start-up teams. Ailbhe and Izzy are sensational speakers. They are passionate and driven to make a difference and are above all authentic and utterly sincere in how they go about doing that. They also appeal to audiences on multiple levels from inclusion and diversity to commercial to fashion to people’s interest.
This combination of passion, enthusiasm, good humor, the fact that they are both tremendous human beings and punchy delivery makes them compelling listening and often left our audiences inspired and a little bit humbled. We would highly recommend them as speakers and look forward to welcoming them into Accenture again in the near future’ – Peter Cleary, Innovation Manager for the Leaders of Tomorrow program, Accenture