Maura Hortons husband Don was stuck in a locker room, running late to a football game. The North Carolina State University football coach struggled with the buttons on his dress shirt, unable to secure the traditionally small clasps.
Eventually, then-student Russell Wilson helped Coach Horton get his shirt buttoned. But when Horton came home, he lamented about how much more difficult the process made coaching games and being on time. Most importantly, it was stressful and undignified.
Maura Horton explored her options.
"I had to order what was available – a flimsy velcro shirt," she told MensHealth.com. But her husband's style was "more Brooks Brothers" than velcro. And besides, "he still needed dexterity or more hands to close the velcro together."
She had an idea one day in 2012: a magnetic iPad case inspired her to try something new. Armed with a shirt made of easily clasped magnetic buttons, Horton scored two patents and created a brand, MagnaReady.
The brand of adaptive apparel has grown exponentially since then, providing clothes for those who struggle with things that able-bodied people commonly take for granted.
"We installed the technology into pants and so many different categories," Horton says. MagnaReady has its own lines of men's and women's clothing, including pants and other items, all made for those who might have limited dexterity in either or both hands.
The company also provides nationwide retail stores like Macy's and Kohl's with its more affordable but equally inventive designs under the name MagnaClick. And though Horton says their oldest customer is 101 years old, MagnaReady has also worked with Land's Endto provide adaptive uniforms for kids.
On top of that, two more patents and a huge announcement are on the horizon.
Two years ago, it was hard for Maura Horton to imagine this.
After her husband passed away from Parkinson's, Horton wasn't sure how to move forward with production on something that hit so close to home. "It was a hard crossroads when he passed because it’s so personal," Horton says.
"Customers share their stories and it’s definitely what keeps me going," Horton says. "It’s never ending, from baby boomers to those living with a stroke or short-term problem."
One of those stories recently went viral on Twitter. In a video with over 200,000 likes, a man with Cerebral Palsy buttons his magnet-enhanced shirt without help – and smiles confidently once he's done it entirely on his own.
With the sheer magnitude of these stories and the force behind them, Horton hopes that a change is coming in the fashion industry and our culture at large.
"There’s a movement afoot," she says. "I'm hoping the focus turns to limited dexterity and accessibility."