I met Nick & Nicole some time ago through a media event that we were both at, & they then had me over for an interview about invisible illnesses. I was immediately drawn to their love & passion, & I clicked with them on a level usually reserved for friends for many years. We laughed, teased each other & felt so comfortable finding our groove together. I knew that I wanted to spend more time with them & learn more about their business, Smergos.
Time has run away from us as we all have busy lives with work, doctor’s visits & life plans (ahem – Nick’s wedding coming up!). So I was so thrilled when they reached out to me & asked if I would meet them at Starbucks for a chat one weekend. What was meant to be a quick half hour meeting turned into a 2 hour giggle fest (with plenty of frappuccinos!) along with discussing plans going forward.
The first to come out of the meeting was that I HAD to do a blog on them. I have never met people like them before, & their business plan is amazing. They are changing the world for differently-abled people, & showing society that we all belong together whilst constantly inspiring motion.
The second is that they are offering a discount code on their Smergos Life products to everyone who reads this blog (more on this at the end…).
And lastly, we are partnering up through the Rare Bear Project! You can now add a Rare Bear to your order through Smergos, & we are one of their chosen charities that they will be giving back to. How flipping cool is that?
Your names: Nick (Nicholas when I’m in trouble) Smit & Nicole Vergos
Business name: Smergos PTY Ltd
Tell me a bit more about each of you:
NS: I was injured in a car accident when I was 6 months old and as a result I have Cerebral Palsy with Hemiplegia. Basically this means that the right side of my brain was damaged which has affected the left side of my body. However, I don’t let this get in the way of living life. I have Bachelor’s degree in education with majors in Maths and Biology. I run a small tutoring company & Smergos and teach part-time. I’m a professional speaker. I love music and dancing (especially Salsa) and I play pool. I’ve also ticked off sky-diving from my bucket list.
NV: I was born with a genetic condition called Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), otherwise known as Brittle Bones. To be put simply, it means my body produces some type 1 collagen but not a sufficient amount, and as result my bones are not as strong as the average person’s. There is currently no cure for OI.
I’m an account manager at a leading global market research agency, specialising in consumer insights. Although my goal is to eventually be involved in Smergos fulltime. I’m motivated by change – I’m always looking for ways to keep moving forward and to improve my self-development.
Tell me a bit more about Smergos: Smergos changes lives by designing, manufacturing, donating and selling accessories for wheelchairs. The products are very diverse as some are functional while others are to express one’s personality or are specialised to suit disabled sports teams and we even have a range of products that are for everyone, not only for those with a disability. We have recently also started working on an accessibility rating platform that offers an app to the public, accessibility auditing for buildings, etc as well as connecting the owners of these spaces to companies that can help them upgrade their facilities to improve their accessibility.
We are both very passionate about Smergos as we both have a disability and understand the challenges that face those with disabilities on a daily basis. Our slogan is ‘Inspiring Motion’ as we aim to do this in the disabled community as well as help break down the barriers in society between those with and those without disabilities.
Where did the idea for this business come from: The Smergos story began one morning back in 2012 as Nick was thinking about what he could give Nicole on her next birthday. He recognised that she often struggled to carry or keep her belongings on her lap while using her hands to push herself in her wheelchair. A wheelchair bag was the obvious solution. It would be functional yet also original and distinctively Nicole.
The more he thought about the idea, the more Nick began to see far bigger possibilities. That afternoon, he called Nicole and asked her if she would like to make something that could change lives. Her response? “Definitely! I’m in!” The concept of Smergos was born.
Why the passion for this industry: Through our personal experience as people with disabilities we have always found it difficult to find products that are created for us or work the way we need them to. We are tired of this being the case. Why can a person without a disability go to the shops and find, for example, at least 10 different bags to choose from? However, when it comes to one for a person with a disability we can’t find anything and have to scour the internet and then pay exorbitant prices, because it’s a ‘specialised’ item.
Why are your products so unique: We didn’t take any existing product (especially those created for a person without a disability) and try fit these onto a wheelchair. We design our products from scratch. Often sitting in my lounge and strapping paper / material onto Nicole’s wheelchair and doing some intense problem-solving.
We also try create a range of products that are functional but also some that help portray the personality of the person in the wheelchair so the wheelchair becomes an extension of them and not this dreaded appendage.
Where can people buy your products from: On our website – Vensy E-mall and Takealot coming soon.
Tell me more about the different parts of Smergos:
Smergos Original – Products specifically created to fit onto a wheelchair or to be used by a person in a wheelchair
Smergos Sport – Products specifically created to fit onto sports wheelchairs and help them train, excel during a game or for comfort.
Smergos Life – Products created to suit those with or without disabilities. Because we always want to make a person with a disabilities life easier we created a ‘Buy-1-give-1’ model for only this range of products. This means that for every product sold a product will be donated to a person with a disability who needs our products but cannot afford them.
Smergos Electric – In the next few years / sooner we aim to develop a range of products that can be fitted onto a normal wheelchair and give it some electric features. I can’t tell you more than that – The rest is a secret.
Quote you live by:
NS: “The greatest risk is not taking one.” – Unknown
NV: “We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that death will tremble to take us” – Charles Bukowski
Anything else you want to add: In our effort to break down the barriers between those with and those without disabilities we are hosting social gatherings once a month (usually the second / last Sunday of the month). Please follow us on social media to see the details of these events and see you at the next one.
Our big goal is to eventually open a ‘Accessibility Store’ in a shopping centre. It will offer a range of products (ours & other suppliers) to suit all disabilities.
Aren’t these amazing? And isn’t it great that differently-abled people are now FINALLY getting some fun additions to make their lives a little easier?
And now… You can get your very own laptop bag from Smergos Life. “Smergos Life offers a range of products that anyone can use. For every product you purchase from Smergos Life, we’ll donate a wheelchair bag to a person in need. This buy one, give one model is exclusive to Smergos Life.”
My discount code is “FLOWER” here so let’s spread the love during this month of love. Together we can make this world a better place!