Feeling inspired after an extensive recovery from surgery, and completing her first half marathon, Hema Nambiar went on to create her own clothing line.
Nambiar, a resident of Larchmont and founder of 13-one, uses Heatsheets, a material used in the one-time use insulated blankets runners put on after a marathon to regulate their body temperatures, in her line of outdoor jackets.
Nambiar, 48, participated in her first marathon three years after undergoing surgery to fix her ruptured diaphragm.
She explained she was born with a diaphragmatic hernia, a birth defect that causes an opening in the diaphragm, a muscle that plays a necessary role in respiration. This is usually caught when a person is younger, however Nambiar was much older when it was discovered.
“I was lucky enough to be 37, and had three kids, and it held,” Nambiar said.
The rupture caused Nambiar’s internal organs to move into her chest cavity, collapsing one of her lungs and limiting her ability to breathe.
Two years after her initial surgery to fix the problem, she suffered the same affliction.
For her second surgery, Nambiar saw a doctor at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center who gave her a synthetic diaphragm.
“I’m practically bionic woman,” she said.
After enduring all of this, Nambiar wanted more than anything to get back to her active lifestyle.
She said that once she completed the half marathon, she was overcome with a lot of different emotions, but mainly she felt like her life was finally getting back to normal.
From here, she began to brainstorm ideas for 13-one, the name of which is based on how many miles are in a half marathon, 13.1.
“I was just thinking about the races, and what a cool technology the Heatsheets were,” she said.
Nambiar began pursuing her businesses in 2015, when she was accepted into the Goldman Sachs/Tory Burch 10,000 Small Business Program, which helps provide business education to small, female-led companies.
With these newly acquired skills under her belt, Nambiar reached out to AFM Heatsheets, the manufacturer of insulated blankets that use technology developed by NASA to help protect astronauts and spacecrafts during travel from the heat, cold and water.
Nambiar said she was fascinated by the technology, and wondered if there was a way turn the Heatsheets blankets into something useable for everyday life.
She explained that from here, Nambiar approached them with her idea of incorporating their technology into a jacket line.
“I think she’s really come up with a wonderful concept for what women are looking for,” said Lacie Flannery, vice president of AFM Heatsheets.
By November 2016, Nambiar was launching a Kickstarter campaign with a goal of raising $10,000 by December 2016.
In one month, Nambiar raised more than $14,000 from 83 backers.
Flannery explained the process of creating the jackets from start to finish took seven months.
“For her to incorporate [Heatsheets technology] into an everyday use jacket was really smart,” Flannery said. “The reception has been really positive.”
Ruth Bradley, of Larchmont, said she owns a 13-one trench coat which she described as “quite chic.”
Bradley explained she finds the light weight jacket easy to travel with, and thinks it would be ideal for a wide range of people.
“I mean it’s good for athletes, outdoorsy people, [and] people just around town picking up their kids from school,” she said.
13-one jackets can be found at Parkers, a retail store in Rye that sells outdoor apparel, and online at 13-one.com.
“[Nambiar] is our only partner that actually uses our technology for apparel, which is exciting,” Flannery said.
Nambiar said she hopes to continue to expand the clothing brand’s reach.
“I want everyone to open up their holiday gifts and have a 13-one [product inside],” Nambiar said.