hero gearo designs innovative, durable, and sustainable gear for fearless kiddos and their families. We are committed to people through fair trade craftsmanship, to the planet through sustainable, durable, safe fabrics, dyes and finishes, and to profit through support of founders with chronic illness!
Nadine was a brilliant student just embarking on a career in museum work when she started having some peculiar symptoms. A doctor's visit confirmed it was more than just "new job stress." She couldn't walk a straight line; she couldn't count backwards by 7s; she didn't know what year it was. Eventual diagnosis: multiple sclerosis (MS). After a dozen years of relapses, hospitalizations, brain scans and heavy medications, Nadine required a wheelchair and was residing in a nursing care facility.
Finally, in 2013, after participating in a novel MS therapy called Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (HSCT) at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Nadine had a remarkable recovery. Once again able to walk and climb stairs unassisted, she returned to her usual level of independence. Nadine became an unofficial HSCT ambassador and shifted from her earlier career of arts administration into painting.
In 2018, her college roommate, Cordelia, who had a childhood history of orthopedic issues culminating in a spinal fusion at Shriner's Hospital, convinced Nadine to use her personal and professional background to help co-found a line of innovative home textiles based on clinical care fabric technology. After a year of designing, prototyping, and testing, they launched hero gearo at the start of the pandemic.
A Band of Billions
Nadine and Cordelia are just two of the billions of people worldwide affected by disability. Just two of the many who used the resilience and fierce drive gained through early hospitalizations to start their own businesses. In 2021, they started building Band of Billions, a platform to support and promote businesses founded by people like themselves with chronic health conditions and/or disabilities.
The hero gearo Team
Cordelia Vahadji - Co-Founder and CEO
Cordelia has degrees in biology and studio art from Smith College. She started her career conducting biomedical research at laboratories at Yale, Princeton, the NIH, and Johns Hopkins. After assuming a family caregiver role, she became increasingly interested in three main areas: advocating for a collaborative role of patients and caregivers alongside physicians and other healthcare professionals, investigating ways for people with chronic illness and family caregivers to stay employed and active within their communities, and adapting the safety and durability of clinical textiles to home goods.
Nadine Shapiro - Co-Founder and Product Designer
Nadine Shapiro is an artist who lives and works in Western Massachusetts. She has degrees in sociology and art history from Smith College, and has studied art and philosophy at Bennington College. Since her diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis (MS), she has shifted her focus from museum administration to painting and advocacy work within the MS community. Her experience inspired the launch of hero gearo.