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No Limbits’ Erica Cole is passionate about travel

A person with a prosthetic lower leg is seated on a wooden box, looking down at their prosthetic limb as the pull the zipper down on heir pants to cover the prosthetic leg. They are dressed casually in khaki pants and a white sweatshirt with a graphic design featuring cartoon frogs and the text "More than Limbs". The individual is wearing one brown shoe, and the background is plain and light-colored, providing a neutral setting that highlights the subject.
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In 2019, amidst the proud graduates of the University of Iowa, one individual with a degree in chemistry did not yet know that her career would take an unexpected turn, leading her from the laboratories of science to the artistry of fashion. What began as a personal endeavour after her 2018 accident—altering clothes on a humble sewing machine to ensure a more comfortable fit for her prosthetic leg and those of her amputee friends—evolved into the company we now know as No Limbits. The job offer at a renowned government lab was turned down to pursue a singular dream—making clothing that is comfortable for amputees to wear. That dream, which at the time seemed so far-fetched to achieve, inched along from humble beginnings to a Kickstarter campaign needed to fund the production run of adaptive pants. “Our appearance on Shark Tank enabled us to secure deals with renowned investors like Mark Cuban, lending credibility and opening doors to new opportunities.” Meet Erica Cole, founder and CEO of adaptive clothing company, No Limbits. 

A woman standing on a stage next to a rack of different styles of pants displayed on stands. Behind her is a large screen with the text "NO LIMBITS adaptive clothing." On the left, there is a single piece of clothing on a stand, a pair of pants. The stage has wood paneling and spotlights with an overall professional appearance, indicative of a business or product pitch environment, reminiscent of television shows where entrepreneurs present their products to potential investors.

As an amputee and passionate traveller, Erica admits that airline travel with a prosthetic leg can be quite tedious. Airport security will visually and physically examine your prosthetic device during screening and this process can be difficult to maneuver. This is where No Limbits’ Unlimbited pants comes in handy. Erica easily unzips them so the entire prosthetic leg can be seen, making the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) process much easier. Erica is a frequent traveller; throughout the year, you’ll find her on a flight to various places in the U.S. for work and at times, internationally for leisure. 

When Erica wore her traditional prosthetic leg, travel was more challenging because she needed to carry a lot of equipment with her. Now that she has an osseointegrated leg, it has made a world of difference. “I still carry an extra prosthetic with me wherever I go,” she shared. “I have one that’s waterproof, so I have two legs and both go with me.” The airline allows an extra bag for medical equipment in which she carries her extra leg, gauze wrap and compression socks. 

Local and national hiking, camping and other outdoorsy activities are treasured leisure experiences for Erica, but a trip to an international destination, experiencing local culture plus scuba diving is the epitome of luxury. Her trip to Egypt last year was the most memorable. She had the opportunity to scuba dive and explore the rich history and culture of the region. Erica stated, “Travelling as an amputee in Egypt was quite smooth. People were very friendly and accommodating. Even though I stood out due to my limb difference, the overall experience was positive.” The locals were very willing to help. “I was struggling to get up on a camel and everybody was so helpful and made sure that I could get up there and sit comfortably. It was a really great experience.” 

Egypt will always have a very special place in her heart. “We went on a camel ride and enjoyed the breathtaking view of not just three, but nine pyramids from an overlook. The camels sat down so we could get off . . . then my boyfriend proposed. It was quite the moment!”

Travelling as an amputee presents Erica with the opportunity to challenge stereotypes and showcase abilities. Initially, some people may perceive amputees as fragile or limited, but “by actively participating in regular activities,” Erica said, “I demonstrate that disabilities do not prevent someone from enjoying life to the fullest.” 

When she travels, Erica typically wears pants. “As someone with a limb difference, I’m not always comfortable with the stares, so I try to stand out as little as possible,” she said. But when she scuba dives, it is immediately obvious that she’s an amputee. On these trips, Erica found that for the first few days, people treat her like she’s fragile or believe she won’t be able to keep up. It means a lot to her that, at the end of the trip, people realize that she can definitely keep up and some even say, “she could out swim any of us. She’s very competitive.”

Erica remarked, “it is rewarding just to show that because you’re an amputee, have another disability or a challenge doesn’t mean that you can’t still do the same things that others do—it might just look a little different. As I travel more as an amputee, I believe people who travel with me start to realize that too. I’m hoping that I’m changing their perspective.”

Shop for No Limbits clothing on her website, no-limbits.com. You’ll also find them at Walmart.com 

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