West Elm, meet Top & Derby’s Chatfield cane.
Posted on January 5, 2015
Dear West Elm,
I recently received an email from you titled “Our proudest moment of 2014…” and upon finding this in the contents:
I knew that I would be key to your proudest moment of 2015. Allow me to explain:
I am writing you as an advocate, not as a representative of the company or item that I am pitching. I have no financial ties to Top & Derby and I will not receive any financial compensation for this pitch.
The item I will be submitting for your review is the Top & Derby Chatfield cane.
Let me first tell you a little more about myself. Nearly three years ago, I woke up one morning, fell out of bed and into the hospital. I was 29 at the time. And since that day, I have used a cane and a pair of eyeglasses to get around.You also need to know that I’m fairly adorable.
This life change made me acutely aware of the stigmatization of assistive devices. Walk for a day with a cane. You will see what I mean. There is currently an ongoing series in the New York Times that speaks to this stigma. Falls are the leading cause of death among our elderly population. Once you outfit someone in need with an appropriate assistive device, you virtually eliminate falls. Assistive devices are frequently discarded due to stigma. It is my belief that this stigma is deadly.
So why are all assistive devices stigmatizing when eyeglasses are not?
Two-thirds of leading assistive device manufacturers have admitted that they are not spending a single dollar on any research or development of new products. There are two beautiful canes that currently exist. Top & Derby makes the Chatfield and Sabi makes the Classic.
I believe if these two canes can find their way into mainstream retailers, this could create a spark that could inspire current manufacturers to invest in new, innovative and beautiful assistive products. Which is why I have turned to you. I want you to sell the Top & Derby Chatfield cane.
West Elm is the perfect retailer for the amazing Chatfield cane. It is worth noting that Top & Derby was created by two former EQ3 designers (Ben Grynol ran store planning and design, Matt Kroeker designed some of their most successful products).
Ben and Matt were looking to try something a little different. Thus the birth of the Chatfield cane. The shaft of this cane is solid walnut and the handle is aluminum wrapped in silicone. The craftsmanship rivals any one of West Elm’s beautiful pieces of furniture or accessories. Ben’s focus is unparalleled:
As you can probably tell from this letter, I have a lot of beliefs. Another thing I believe is that the only way to currently get an assistive product into a mainstream retailer is through collaboration. There are certifications and processes that assistive device makers must go through to get their product on the market. And to be totally honest, they’re expensive and time consuming. This is yet another reason why I have selected you:
Pitching a cane to a furniture retailer begs and answers a question I spend a lot of time thinking about. Where do assistive devices belong? Should they continue to lay hidden in the wastelands of medical warehouses and hospitals? Could they potentially be treated as eyeglasses, sold in their own exclusive shops. Or do they belong alongside other accessories and products in mainstream retail environments. And if they do deserve a place alongside these other beautiful products in mainstream retail environments, what sort of retailers should sell them? Clothing retailers? A cane is not an item of clothing. Furniture retailers? A cane is not a piece of furniture. What about a sports retailer? We don’t tend to think assistive devices are for the athletically inclined. What if, in the most inclusive of environments, assistive devices were sold in all three. What if, instead of one dreary store selling all of the assistive devices, every store sold just one? What would that do to stigma?
I would love to have the opportunity to chat with you more about the Top & Derby cane and its inclusion in your collaborative collection. I am sure that Ben and Matt from Top & Derby would also love to chat with you. They’re outgoing, funny and passionate about assistive devices and furniture. They also live, eat and breathe good design in the same way that I live, eat and breathe inclusive retail.
I also want to let you know that I have spent the past year pitching J. Crew to carry the Sabi Classic cane. I believe you are the yin to their yang. West Elm and J. Crew are the two companies needed to change the way we perceive assistive devices.
So… are you ready to change the world?
Your Newfound Friend,
P.S. I recently reached out to your customer service department and will be going through the proper submission process, I suppose I just wanted you to know it’s on its way.