The businessman who transforms walking sticks into fashion accessories
A man living with multiple illnesses has launched his own business transforming dull walking sticks into trendy fashion accessories for people with limited mobility.
Ian Gilson has a fair bit of experience in management, he used to run a karaoke company - his love of music comes from performing in a band.
Now 48, Gilson has used his business skills to launch GenXcess, which jazzes up walking sticks for those who need them. He falls into that camp himself, becoming a stick user in June 2022.
A comment stuck with him, one day Gibson was wandering down a local Bristol street when someone called him an ‘old fella’.
It was a lightbulb moment, he transformed his walking stick, which he refers to as the ‘boomstick’, into a tech piece of art complete with an inbuilt speaker modelled on the spaghetti Western movies he used to be transfixed with as a lad.
Gilson’s canes come in a wide range of themes, he’s recently jumped on the Barbie bandwagon and designed a stick based on the infamous movie star doll, there’s a few Star Wars ones lurking about too.
Others come engraved with messages or attachments such as lights or a water bottle holder.
Gilson told Bristol Post: “I make interesting walking sticks. I started using a stick when I was 48 and found that people immediately started treating me differently.
“I’ve experienced a lot of discrimination that older people usually have through the use of a stick. People make judgments about you being weak or vulnerable or even a threat. It has become associated with creepy characters in films like the bond villains.
“It’s because we’ve somehow allowed the walking stick to become a symbol of disability, weakness and even a horror symbol. I want to take that power back and make it about personality, visibility and mobility.
“I had been going through a really dark period previously trying to cope with the pain from the scoliosis and unable to sleep with the high-pitched noises.”
A range of walking sticks available through GenXcess
He added: “I discovered while out in the countryside one day that by listening to the sound of a river I could temporarily block out the constant noise. I literally broke down and cried. It was like experiencing silence again, something I know I will never have.
“I realised that through creating different sound environments, I could be present in the world again. Having the boomstick helps me to create my own soundscapes and enjoy music again at a comfortable volume. Why should a walking stick be any different from a hat or handbag? It’s a fashion accessory, so let's make it personal and make it fun.”
[ For more information and to make purchases visit the Genxcess website ]