Seeking a treatment for her autistic son, Michelle's garments have become a life changer.
Halfway around the world and poised to deliver a TEDx talk in front of hundreds of people earlier this year, JettProof Clothing founder Michelle Ebbin reflected briefly on the journey that brought her to this moment.
Michelle's presentation in Canada in April marked the culmination of countless hours of toil that began after she started seeking autism treatment for her young son, Jett.
Her company, which creates clothing tailor-made for people with ADHD, sensory processing disorder, autism and other conditions, launched from the kitchen of her Lake Macquarie home in 2013.
Demand for products from across the globe meant the fledgling company soon outgrew its humble headquarters, expanding into a commercial estate nearby.
“We run the whole thing out of Lake Macquarie, sending it all around the world to customers, specialists and wholesalers,” Michelle said.
JettProof also has an office in Canada, one of the brand’s biggest markets outside Australia alongside the UK and the US. But Ms Ebbin said operating the business from Lake Macquarie provided the ideal work/life balance.
“I love it because I’m four minutes away from home,” she said.
“I can go home for lunch if I want to. I have set days off when I do activities with my kids and take my laptop with me if I need to.”
“People are happy to come from Sydney for a meeting, and they’re happy to fly in to meet with me.”
Michelle’s idea for Jettproof was born after an occupational therapist recommended a special compression vest for her son. It helped calm Jett from the moment he put it on.
“My older children came home from school and saw Jett sitting up at the table,” Ms Ebbin recalled.
“They had never seen him sit at a table. They said: ‘Mum, what have you done to Jett?’”
However, the vest could only be worn for 20 minutes at a time. That was when Ms Ebbin began trialing fabrics and sewing up her own vests at her kitchen table, making garments that could be worn round-the-clock, for her son and friends whose children also had autism. Jett’s transformation was astonishing.
“He went from having up to 14 meltdowns a day to none at all,” Ms Ebbin said.
It’s a result that has been echoed by parents in online reviews from around the world. Husband Dean runs the factory in the Lake Macquarie suburb of Gateshead, while Michelle takes care of the warehouse with Michelle saying that Jettproof manufactures about 1000 garments daily.
“We supply 14 countries now but we do everything from Australia, right here in Lake Macquarie,” she said.
To the TedX audience who listened to her success story in April, Ms Ebbin offered some simple advice.
“Remember – one person can make a difference, one person can change people’s lives for the better.”