Koalaa is growing and we’re so pleased to officially introduce the newest member of the team, Nicole Brennan, who has joined us as Marketing Brand Manager.
Nicole will be focusing on all things communications! Helping us raise awareness, reach new audiences (in the UK and beyond!) and to get our messages out there. She will also be working with our Limb Buddies to build the Koalaa Community as a safe, supportive and inspiring place for those with limb difference and their families.
We recently caught up with Nicole to find out a little more about her personal experience with limb difference, her passion for empowerment and why the beach will always be her happy place.
What is your personal experience with limb difference?
I was born with a below elbow transverse limb difference. While my parents never received a formal diagnosis, it was thought to be related to Amniotic Band Syndrome (ABS).
Growing up, I struggled a lot and a big part of that was a lack of representation. There was no-one for me to look up to and who made me think ‘I’m going to be awesome when I grow up’.
I never thought I could be a functioning member of society, so I just kind of went through life hiding my arm. I’d always wear jumpers and sleeves to cover it and would also disguise it in the ways I would position my body.
It got to the point that when I got married, I asked the photographer not to take pics of my arm. I also asked the vicar marrying us to switch the layout around, so that my arm wouldn’t be in front of everyone.
But that all changed when I had my first child, Noah. After years of hiding my arm, I was done with it. I’d had enough! I decided I was not going to be that person anymore.
How did you first come across Koalaa?
I first came across Koalaa through an initiative I founded in 2019 called the IAmPossible Foundation – which aims to empower individuals with limb difference and fights for a world where ability is not defined by an individuals’ form or physical appearance.
While I was growing the IAmPossible community I had also been watching Koalaa grow and we went on to form a relationship, which included Koalaa’s founder Nate appearing on the IAmPossible podcast.
When an opportunity came up to join Koalaa, I was so excited as I was loving what the team were doing and their approach.
What has your own experience with prosthetics been?
My own journey with prosthetics has been quite challenging. I’d always found prosthetics to be very uncomfortable and that their main use was aesthetic, which impacted on my body image even more. I stopped using them and dropped out of clinical support when I was around 13.
What I have always really liked about Koalaa is that the prosthetics are not trying to replace a body part. The sleeve is a tool that can be used when you want it and there is no pressure to feel like you must wear it all the time. The prosthetics are also soft and comfortable. I’ve never come across anything like them before.
What are you most looking forward to?
I’m really looking forward to supporting Koalaa in raising awareness – especially amongst people like me, who have not had the greatest experience with prosthetics to date.
I’m also excited about what the company has planned outside of the UK and about initiatives like #ProjectLimitless, which have already given hundreds of children across the UK access to a Koalaa prosthetic for free.
Growing the support side of Koalaa is something else that I am looking forward to. The limb difference community remains a very broken and disconnected place and to help bring that community together is something I’ve wanted to do since I was teeny.
Where might we find you outside of work?
Outside of work, you’re most likely to find me with my husband, entertaining our two young children. We’re based near Chichester on the south coast and are lucky to have some gorgeous beaches on our doorstep. Which is brilliant, as I love being outdoors and being on the beach has always been my happy place.
You may also find me hurtling over obstacles and scrambling through muddy trenches to raise money and awareness for the I Am Possible Foundation. Our next Tough Mudder event is fast approaching – wish me luck!