Lifelong Rhode Island Resident Creates Handi-Capable Mittens
Marita Loffredo, is an inspiring and happy soul who lives each day of her life to the fullest. To help others with the same medical conditions as herself, she created easy on and off mittens that provide comfort and warmth for the long winter months ahead.
Lifelong resident of Rhode Island, Marita Loffredo, is an inspiring and happy soul who lives each day of her life to the fullest. Her kindred spirit and bubbly personality have helped her realize that through her medical conditions, everything happens for a reason. Her reason? To help others. So, she created Phalang-EASE Mittens, easy on and off gloves that provide comfort and warmth for the long winter months ahead.
Tell me a little bit about yourself and your conditions.
I had been a dancer for many, many years. Around the age of seventeen I had gotten sick and suddenly overnight, I couldn’t even turn a door knob. I woke up in the middle of the night and my arms felt like they were on fire. I got up to look for Bengay to put on them. I saw some in the closet and went to reach for it, but I couldn’t lift my arm. I literally took my fingers and guided them up the shelves until I reached the cream, however once I had a hold of it, my arm completely fell down. It took a year of testing and hundreds of doctors’ visits, but in the summer off eighty-three, within two weeks they finally diagnosed me with a rare blood vessel disease called Juvenile Polymyositis. That then lead to Rheumatoid Arthritis which in turn has now caused Fibrosis due to it being connective tissue. Wherever you have connective tissue you can flare up. For me, aside from my joints, it also hit my lungs. Now, it has caused Pulmonary Hypertension which has put my heart under stress. Eventually it will become exhausted, though the doctors don’t know when.
Well, I figured that I wanted to find a way to help people with the same issues. I realized however, that I needed help, too. My hands were consistently freezing because of the autoimmune diseases including Reynaud’s and Scleroderma, and so, because of my deformities, I couldn’t get my hand into any mittens to keep them warm. I searched online for options and found nothing. I also went on message boards where people mentioned that they would cut the heel out of socks and use them to keep their hands warm, but I figured there had to be something out there better than that – there wasn’t. I had enough sewing experience and had taken sewing lessons when I was younger. Though I had never sewn mittens before, I came up with the Phalang-EASE Mittens.
How long did it take you to come up with this idea?
Ten years! Though it wasn’t every day, simply because I have always had health setbacks. Just when I found a manufacturer and had the first shipment and was ready to market them, I got diagnosed with other things.
You have such a positive outlook on life and spread such upbeat energy. How do you do it?
You can be a part of the problem or you can be a part of the solution. I have always told my kids Pete and Mike that. They are actually co-owners of the company now, too.
Do you still live in Rhode Island?
I am a born and raised Rhode Islander and I think that’s what makes these mittens so special. They aren’t new to us here in the state or even the entire country, but these types of mittens are new to the world. There is truly nothing like them out there. We have had orders shipped to people in Canada and the United Kingdom, too! The thing is, all of those autoimmune diseases don’t just affect people here in Rhode Island, but they affect a global audience.
What can someone expect when buying a pair of mittens?
Well, our mittens come in six different sizes ranging from an extra small for children to an extra extra large. The children’s sizes are colored, the large and medium are made with an olive colored material and the extra-large, extra extra large and small are offered in black. They can be purchased on our website online, however if a customer is from Rhode Island, I prefer to meet with them in person. The mittens are made in a small manufacturing company in Nashua New Hampshire where there are four seamstresses who have their own unique way of making the mittens. Each of the mittens fit a bit differently so depending on your hands and what your problems are, I like to make sure they fit perfectly for each person.
The best things about the Phalang-EASE Mittens are that whether you have good hands or bad hands, they are all inclusive, so anybody can wear them. I wanted everything to be soft, not bulky so you could still feel things and of course, warm. Plus, they are 100 percent wind-proof, are water repellent and they open and close with a hook and loop strip (Velcro-like material) for easy on and off comfort. A pair of mittens costs $37.50 and shipping is included.