DOWNTOWN Magazine recently interviewed Jody Barret, the founder and creator of Seriously Funny Gowns, a line of meaningfully designed medical attire for hospital patients. Each hospital gown or treatment top is imprinted with an inspiring or comical design meant to boost the confidence of the patient and provide a sense of dignity and relief to those undergoing hospitalization. After all, laughter is the best medicine and these gowns administer a large dose!
How did the idea of Seriously Funny Gowns come about?
Unfortunately between myself, two parents with Alzhemiers, and my best friend, I have spent a lot of time in the hospital. Five years ago, when my best friend was in the hospital, I came by for a visit. On this particular visit, I was trying very hard to lift her spirits from the negativity associated with hospitalization. I happened to notice her standard-issued hospital gown and decided to use that as a point of conversation. I began to imagine how we would “strip down” her gown and replace it with something fun. For the first time my friend was excited about something and was focused on something other than her illness. The way her face lit up and the way the conversation changed, that really gave me the momentum to pursue this. One year ago, Seriously Funny Gowns was launched utilizing manufacturers in the United States in an effort to support American production.
What is the typical patient reaction to these gowns?
People were overwhelmed at the thought of infusing fun into a hospital. A lovely oxymoron. Seriously Funny Gowns create a fun distraction for patients while giving them some sense of self and dignity. When they wear one of the Seriously Funny Gowns, they are no longer just a patient…they are a person. The attire becomes a representation of who they are. Bringing patients a gift that can create a distraction like that, is a great feeling.
Some people put them on immediately wearing them as an emblem of hope. Others wear them when they go for a walk and they become the buzz of their hospital floor. To see the impact of these gowns is quite an interesting sociology experiment. Everyone’s mind is distracted and delighted.
Do you have a particular story that signifies what these gowns do or mean for people?
One girl reached out to me on Twitter. She was diagnosed with breast cancer. She said that she wished she had something like Seriously Funny Gowns as she was going through her chemotherapy. She was particularly drawn to our “Honor A Woman” treatment top that is designed with awards on the front to honor women who undergo breast cancer treatment. She said that having such a top would help to empower her. I sent her an “Honor A Woman” treatment top to wear for her follow up treatments.
Where can these gowns be purchased?
We are currently selling them online and soon we will be expanding to hospital gift shops. I use Twitter to engage in a dialogue with the people supporting Seriously Funny Gowns and get their feedback on products.
What motivates you as you expand Seriously Funny Gowns?
I’m inspired by other people and their stories. Everyone’s story is so unique and has the potential to inspire others. Each one of us can make difference. My hope is that these gowns can make a lasting impact in the recovery of a patient. This business truly comes from my heart.
To browse the many inspiring designs, check out the Seriously Funny Gowns website and start laughing!