Caprice Kwai: Living With Osteoarthritis and Thriving
Caprice Kwai is a 21 year old model, blogger and jewellery designer who is living with osteoarthritis, joint hyper mobility and chronic pain syndrome. Following her diagnosis aged just 10, Caprice set her sights on living a life full of possibilities and opportunities. Now, 11 years on since Caprice started walking with aid, Caprice is using our Wild Thing crutches, building her business, confidence and wholly focused on smashing every stigma there is when it comes to living with a disability!
What's been the hardest part of living with osteoarthritis?
I think the hardest part has been accepting the fact that I can no longer do the things I used to do. I can’t dance, run, or enjoy everyday activities that many people take for granted. I think there is a huge misconception surrounding invisible disabilities too, which has also been one of the hardest parts of living with osteoarthritis.
But, despite everything, I still wouldn’t change a thing. I wouldn’t be the person I am without it.
"there is a huge misconception surrounding invisible disabilities"
What advice would you give to anyone facing an osteoarthritis diagnosis?
The best advice I could give is to always trust yourself because you know your body better than anyone. Be patient too, it took five years for me to get diagnosed with osteoarthritis, despite my mum knowing for years. She repeatedly battled doctors and consultants, to get me the appropriate treatment. Osteoarthritis is an invisible condition but your pain is valid and what you’re going through is real. Always trust yourself.
If you could change anything to improve the lives of people with a disability, what would it be?
This is such a good question because there are so many things I would change! I think accessibility is a huge one. Unfortunately, this world isn’t catered for disabled people’s access needs - if I could, I would make every train station and building accessible for disabled people.
Another thing I would change is the education system for disabled people. I’ve personally fought for support as a disabled student for years. Given the power and resources, I would ensure that every educational institution has adequate training and facilities to support the needs of disabled students so they’re not put at a disadvantage when compared to non-disabled students.
How did you get into jewellery design?
Fashion has always been a big part of my life but more so since becoming disabled. It has the power to make me feel confident in myself.
Accessories, in particular, have played a big part in my sense of style throughout the years. They have allowed me to express myself, especially on days when I haven't been able to wear specific clothes that I like because of the ongoing changes with my leg or when I haven't even been able to dress after surgery.
Being able to express myself by wearing earrings was a huge driving force to start my own accessory brand, and with the help and support from my amazing mum, I just went for it!
I wanted to create unique pieces that would be able to make people from all walks of life feel empowered and confident, as they have done for me.
By Caprice-Kwai is less than a year old, but I hope to expand my jewellery into a variety of accessories, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.
You’re also a model, how did you get into that?
When I became disabled at the age of 10, I didn’t see myself being represented anywhere. Two quotes I live by are “become the change you want to see in this world” and “become the woman you needed as a girl”. These quotes really changed my perspective and inspired me to challenge the status quo of today’s beauty standards.
One day, I ended up coming across my agency, Zebedee, on Instagram. I saw that they represent people with disabilities, and their primary aim was to change the fashion industry to become more inclusive. I remember discussing with my mum if I should apply to the agency - she really encouraged me to - and the rest is history!
Do you have any career highlights so far?
Choosing a career highlight is hard because I think every opportunity I get to make the industry more inclusive is special! But I will say I love when I get messages from disabled people, saying that I’ve inspired them to use their mobility aid or inspired them to start their journey to self-love.
One highlight I’ll always remember though is travelling to Ireland on my own to work with the hair brand WELLA, at the beginning of my modelling journey. Sometimes, having a disability can feel restricting, but when I sat on that plane by myself and looked out the window… I just felt free.
"Despite everything I’ve been through, I'll always turn my pain into power"
Why did you choose Cool Crutches?
Before using Cool Crutches, I had been using NHS crutches for 11 years, which caused blisters, and hand pain not to mention the look of them made me feel lacking in confidence.
The minute I started using my Cool Crutches, I felt empowered. One of my favourite features has to be the amazing choice of designs and another feature I love is the moulded left and right handles on each crutch. This particular feature has helped with the pain in my hands a lot. I don’t get stared at for being a 20-year-old using crutches anymore, but instead, I’m admired and always get compliments on my mobility aid now.
But not only are the crutches amazing, but the women behind the company are too!
You’re incredibly motivated and driven, what's your secret?
I think going back to those two quotes I mentioned earlier keeps me motivated. Becoming the change I want to see in this world is so important to me. My mum is a huge motivation for me too - I just want to make her proud.
What would the theme tune to your life be?
This is an amazing question! My theme tune would be ‘I’m a Diva’ by Lil’ Mo. I think if anyone listens to it, they’ll understand why. Despite everything I’ve been through, I’ll always turn my pain into power.
Thank you, Caprice!
Caprice represents everything we do at Cool Crutches: taking back ownership of your self-image, expressing yourself and confidence. We love Caprice's attitude to life and share her excitement for the future! Watch this space, as they say.
For more information about Cool Crutches, or to get your hands on a pair, head to our website.