Adaptive Intimate Apparel for Women: A Human Centered Design Case Study

with Nicole Cuervo,

Founder & CEO at Springrose

This week on the Art of Aging, host Michael Hughes chats with Nicole Cuervo, Founder and CEO at Springrose, a company dedicated to helping improve quality of life for women with limited mobility. During this episode, Nicole shares her personal background and how her grandmother’s struggles with getting dressed independently inspired her to create a solution. She emphasizes the importance of addressing the needs of individuals with limited mobility and discusses the design process behind Springrose’s adaptive bras. Nicole also shares her experiences in finding a manufacturer and navigating the fashion industry, discussion on entrepreneurship, networking, the surprises of aging, and more.
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Highlights from this week’s conversation include:

  • Nicole’s journey in founding Springrose (2:45)
  • The Impact of Limited Mobility (4:29)
  • Designing an Adaptive Bra (7:16)
  • Finding the Right Manufacturer (18:04)
  • A story of Serendipity in Finding a Fabric Supplier (19:03)
  • Importance of Manufacturing Relationship (20:58)
  • Human-Centered Design Starts with a vision of the problem (21:46)
  • Importance of networking (23:08)
  • Advice for entrepreneurs (25:41)
  • A tribute to Nicole’s grandmother and her fulfilling life (32:41)
  • Final thoughts and takeaways (33:25)


Abundant Aging is a podcast series presented by United Church Homes. These shows offer ideas, information, and inspiration on how to improve our lives as we grow older. To learn more and to subscribe to the show, visit


Michael Hughes 00:07
Hi there, and welcome to the Art of Aging, which is part of the Abundant Aging Podcast Series from united Church Homes. On this show, we look at what it means to age in America and in other places around the world. With positive and empowering conversations that challenge, encourage, and inspire everyone everywhere to age with abundance. I’ve heard of our aging Innovation Series. I’m really pleased to have Nicole Cuervo on the podcast today. Nicole is the founder and CEO of Springrose, which is an adaptive innovators company that she founded in honor of her grandmother, whose name is Rose. Springrose’s purpose is to improve quality of life for women with limited mobility. And they do this by helping women get dressed painlessly, and independently. Nicole is originally from Argentina, but grew up most of her life in the US previous spring rolls, she worked at Deloitte Consulting on human centered design, here for human centered design, and strategy projects with government and nonprofit clients. Again, the cool you’re a kindred spirit to this show, that you firmly believe in the power of applying empathy to design and how the best solutions are rooted in engaging with those that are impacted by a challenge that you are addressing, and CO creating together. So we’re going to unpack this on the show today, with your solution spring rose. She is also quite smart, a graduate of Brown, double masters MBA from the Kellogg School of Management, and an MS from the McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern University. So definitely a very accomplished person. Okay, and then for actually, first of all, welcome Nicole, glad to have you on the show.

Nicole Cuervo 01:46
Thank you so much for having me, Mike. I really appreciate it.

Michael Hughes 01:49
And I just wanted to do a quick plug for our one frost Parker center. So the roof frost Center Park, that’s the Ruth Frost-Parker Center for abundant aging is the United Church Homes leadership arm, we are committed to addressing and ending ageism, and we host regular education sessions and an annual symposium meant to empower positive views on aging, and ageism, and highlight innovative programs that really do reflect the ideas of abundance aging. Okay, so, Nicole, welcome again. I am going to start off with a question that I like to ask a lot of NBS, because, you know, coming off that biography that I’m reading, I mean, you’re somebody that clearly could be doing, like a lot of things with your talent. And you know, now, your passion, you’re really engaging with a depth arrow, can you tell us a little bit about how you felt found yourself in this space?

Nicole Cuervo 02:45
Yeah, it’s not a very common space to be working in. And thank you for that lovely intro. I grew up wanting to be an entrepreneur, I think I’d lemonade stand when I was like eight or nine years old when I first moved to the States. And from there, I always was interested because my mom had been an entrepreneur for a very long time. And when I got to college, I started studying business and entrepreneurship, and always trying to think of different ideas. I had some really wild ones that just were not feasible at all. But eventually, when my grandmother was close to us, after my grandfather passed away, I got to spend a lot more time with her than I had growing up. And notice during that time that despite her being independent, despite her being very capable, she still struggled to put on her clothing, and particularly her intimates, which weren’t adaptive. So her bra was really challenging or compression socks. And that, to me, is very frustrating. Because your clothing is the first thing you do every day. It’s something very basic. And it’s something that should take at most, you should be like, Oh, does this match? And that should be the hardest question to answer and you move on with your day. So finding out that something so common was causing a lot of challenges for her was very frustrating. And the more people I talked to, the more I realized this was a really big issue. And I’d always wanted to also do something that helped people. So this felt kind of like it aligned with my interests, but also both personally and professionally. And, yeah, it’s talking to all the women that impacts this keeps me going, because people have been so thoughtful and sharing their personal stories and perspectives. And it’s really motivating to know that even something as small as abroad can make a really big difference in a person’s day.

Michael Hughes 04:29
Yeah, you know, what’s going through my mind right now is just the nature of what happens to us as our function changes over time, right, either temporarily, or male permanently. And I know you know, I’ve had rotator cuff cleanouts and things like that and had to be in a slaying and, you know, and feed and things like that just for a few weeks. And you know, your world gets smaller and you really realize just, you know how these things that we may take for granted. You know, it’s how valuable they are, when they’re limited. And, you know, when we’re looking at this, I mean, this is, we all know what the age wave is. We all know that people are living longer. And we all know about sort of this, the baby boomer bump there. But I mean, what a lot of people don’t know is that if we talk about temporary functional, disability or permanent, between temporary, I think, most of us, this is going to happen to most of us at some point in our lives, right. I mean, I think at least two thirds of the list that I read.

Nicole Cuervo 05:32
Yeah, so most people don’t seem to realize it’s the number like disability at least is the number one minority group people can join at any time. And some people join, and some people manage to recover from whatever injury, illness or condition they have, but a lot of people don’t. And while a lot of people tend to assume, Oh, maybe it’ll happen to me when I’m 70 80 90. Disability and limited mobility really start early. As you mentioned, it can be anything from a temporary broken bone or shoulder injuries, which are really common, particularly as you age. Or it can be more permanent things like stroke, MS, arthritis, which so many people have. I believe – I don’t think I’m outdated just yet – but in the US, arthritis is the number one condition, it affects over 60 million Americans. So it’s a very common thing to have limited mobility. And a lot of people don’t think about it that way. I’m obviously very in touch with all the conditions that we serve and so I’m constantly thinking about all the ways I can become disabled. And even when I first started Springrose, one of our ethos when we’re designing is making sure that whatever we do design doesn’t feel like a compromise. It needs to be functional, but it also has to be stylish and aesthetically pleasing. Because, I mean, at least personally, I like nice things. I think most people like nice things and want to look good and feel good about themselves. And so we wouldn’t ever want to present an option that is functional, but really ugly and feels like it just feels like it’s your only option.

Michael Hughes 06:59
Right? So I mean, we’re not gonna be able to show it on this podcast. But if we take a look at a bra, for instance, what’s the difference between a bra that people may know and the Springboro solution.

Nicole Cuervo 07:16
So traditional bras tend to have back closures. And they tend to be a hook and eye, which means you have these tiny metal hooks that hook into other pieces of metal, just other rings. And so you have to have a high level of dexterity to be able to hook those, you have to have grip strength, you often have to have shoulder mobility and be able to put your hands behind your back whether to class that or unclasp it and you have to have two hands, you can’t really do them on with one hand, over the last 20 years, there’s been some movement forward in terms of front closing bras. But even those tend to still have the hook and eyes. But you need again, one, at least two hands dexterity and grip strength or, or they tend to have maybe a zipper or a magnet. But again, you still need some level of mobility or dexterity to be able to put them on. For us. It took us three years, but we’ve been able to design a bra that can be put on in about eight different ways. So it’s very flexible to whatever your mobility needs are. And that includes putting it on one handed, with limited dexterity, or with shoulder injuries.

Michael Hughes 08:21
And take us through just the process of that. I mean, you know, you yourself would not consider yourself to be functionally limited. You, you took this company into a direction, you know, based upon the inspiration of your grandmother. And then you design this piece of technology, I would say it has just multiple ways into it and working with it. Right. So I mean, how did you come up with it? I mean, how did you come up with eight different ones? What was the process needed to have eight different ways that this thing could be worn?

Nicole Cuervo 08:51
Yeah, it just evolved over time. So my background was in design, thinking and strategy. And I focused on human centered design, which for anybody who might not know, although I’m assuming in your podcast, your listeners are pretty aware that human centered design is a qualitative research methodology, where you assume that you’re not the expert at the issue that people experiencing the challenge are the experts. And you have to be very curious, try and figure out what those challenges are, and then co create solutions together. So I started off assuming I knew I needed a bra. But I didn’t quite know what that was gonna look like in any way, shape, or form. And so I made a point of, I believe at the time this was 2020. I interviewed over 60 women across a range of ages and conditions and areas in the US to try and understand what they really want in a bra, their daily lives and what the challenges were. And then I also worked with over 35 Physical and occupational therapists to get feedback on our design and our prototypes. We ended up surveying over 500 Women. We just collected as much data as we could to build an image of what people need, what are the pain points and then Yeah, to design our product, actually, it’s a fun story. I had an idea for what I thought those solutions should be. But I am not a fashion designer. And so I was like, maybe my idea is not the best idea, we’ll see what else is out there. So with a friend of mine, we put together a design competition and three days, threw a little bit of money into the first place prize, made a marketing poster, gently lifted some terms and conditions from the internet and sent the flier to different engineering and design programs, undergrad programs around the country, we had over 70 people sign up, we had over 24 submit design ideas. And then we put together a panel of occupational therapists from shirley Ryan ability Lab, which is a really amazing rehab center in Chicago, who basically were a judging panel, and they went through all the different designs and said, “This is why it would work or why it wouldn’t work, or here’s modifications.” We ended up with a winning design, which was what we went forward with. And throughout the development of prototypes and testing and showing it to different PTs and OTs, we ended up adding new features and amending little things. And that’s how we evolved the design to what it is today. Because the original one was a one handed bra. We’ve now been able to make it so much more thanks to all of that feedback and testing and co-designing that we did with a lot of people. And ironically, unfortunately, the woman who designed the final design of our bra that we have right now, her mother about I think four to six months after the end of the competition, had a stroke. And so she actually became one of our testers, when we were going through our

Michael Hughes 11:38
design or testing to the person who did contribute a lot of the design for this product, or she was in need just yeah, there wasn’t later.

Nicole Cuervo 11:48
Yeah, one. So it was a very full circle moment to the design. I mean, she’s obviously one of the CO inventors on our patent. So yeah,

Michael Hughes 11:54
yeah, of course, why me, you know, so I just want to kind of unpack this a little bit, because I just think it’s a really neat story. So essentially, you know, it wasn’t just sort of getting very close, and really understanding the problem. And that’s one of the big first tenets of human centered design is to fall in love with the problem. Don’t fall in love with what you think the solution should be right? Hats off to default to tell, by the way, right earlier podcast guests for giving that. So you did that you work with, you know, dozens and dozens of interviews with women with functional limitations, dozens of interviews with people with OT PT but you essentially know that, okay, we’ve understood the problem. What are the different approaches to the solution, you’re able to engineer this sort of visit, this contest, this hackathon, if you will, and the fact that 70 different people from engineering programs across the country, I mean, that tells you that the problem really spoke to people, right? That’s a lot of

Nicole Cuervo 12:47
I think people were very excited about it. And we didn’t just have women, we had men, women, we had teens, it was, yeah, it’s something people care a lot about, because it’s an issue that affects whether even if it doesn’t affect you, it affects somebody, you know, whether that is a relative of yours or a loved one. Almost everybody who works on our business and has worked on her business in the last three years has some personal connection to our mission. And, and that’s because it is so common, there’s over 50 different conditions that we serve with temporary and permanent, it’s something that is very popular, for lack of a better word, but it’s not very commonly spoken about in society.

Michael Hughes 13:26
Right. So the interest was there. The ideas were there. I mean, it’s a great way for you to. I mean, I think everyone gets gifts, things of value out there, because they get the feedback from the OTP T on there, or from the experts on the solutions badly. You know, I was wondering if you’d ever read a book called Tom Sawyer before? Where I think

Nicole Cuervo 13:43
I did it in middle school or something. You don’t remember the whitewashing of the fence thing? All I remember is the scene, but I don’t remember what happened. I think Huckleberry Finn was there, too.

Michael Hughes 13:53
I think I look, I’m a Canadian, I never read and understand that he makes the act of whitewashing in defense, so fun that all his friends want to do it. And he gets to sit back and have all his friends basically whitewash the band score. Literally what he did, no, that’s not, I’m just being a jerk.

Nicole Cuervo 14:10
But that’s also like, you get your friends to help you assemble your furniture, you get them to help you pack your orders, and you’d like there’s free pizza at the end. This is obviously worth your time.

Michael Hughes 14:18
Absolutely, absolutely. But I think it’s a terrific story. So in terms of the ongoing iterations of the product, because you know, you’re coming out with your initial prototypes. And then is there sort of an active community that that you work with is kind of like a test and learning type of experience? I mean, what do you discover as you continue to kind of go through the expansion of the model range? Are you learning things about styles and colors? And how has the product evolved since you first launched it?

Nicole Cuervo 14:47
Yeah, so we actually just launched it about a month ago,

Michael Hughes 14:50
guys, this is September 2023. To recording this.

Nicole Cuervo 14:53
So yes, so we launched this month actually. So the product has shipped to people as of two weeks ago, but we did testing with over 50 women over the last year or two. So we sent them samples earlier on and got feedback on sizing and said we did one of our Fit sessions. So for context, when you’re doing sizing, what you want to do is a fit session. So you bring this garment in different sizes, you try it on women, you measure and see how it fits and whether you need to fix anything. Most, I would say brands tend to do it on a small size and medium sized and large size. And then the last thematically kind of figure out and equate the rest of the sizing range. We brought in 16 women one time because we wanted to make sure that our product set different shapes and sizes. So we got a lot of feedback really early on before we launched because we wanted to be confident in our product. But even now we’re still learning. So for example, our colorways right now are a black and terracotta. The reason we picked terracotta, which is an unusual color, is because it acts almost like a skin tone or neutral, where it doesn’t show up under white garments like light garments, you can’t see it, which is something most consumers are not fully educated on. But we thought it was brilliant, like it’s a way of getting a skin tone and a neutral without actually getting five different colors, because there’s no one skin tone color. But now we’re learning, it’s really difficult to educate consumers on why terracotta is a great choice. And people really want to beige. So it’s not necessarily something we are very excited to produce. But people want to beige, and people want to beige. So we will make a beige. In terms of product functionality. It works really well for some people and for the people that it doesn’t, then we ask the why and what could be better, it tends to be that the support isn’t there. So sometimes, we go out to an F cup, and every band size that we have, that sometimes people might be allergic or F or they’re a G or it’s just sizing is very inconsistent across the industry. So we’re learning from that, and learning how we can take our current products. And what are ways we can add more support to expand to G or an H cup or go larger and serve those clients.

Michael Hughes 17:03
You know, what’s interesting to me is just the sort of where we come from, you know, from your introduction to now, I mean, you know, the introduction did not include, you know, knows everything about manufacturing of garments, or when talking about this in the traditional sense. I mean, in one way, you know, yes, there’s some know-how involved but also, you’re kind of starting from another direction and acclimating yourself into this world, through the need of the human centered design process, right? It’s like that certain stage. Now I have to get smart about manufacturers, I have to get smarter with fabrics. And I have to do all this. And then the other thing, is this a, it was this, did you feel that was challenging? Or did you feel it was a natural sort of part of the process?

Nicole Cuervo 17:46
Oh, it’s probably the most challenging part of everything we’ve done in the last three years. Finding a manufacturer was very challenging, finding a technical designer who could make our product and understood that it wasn’t just making something traditional, but it needed to be highly functional. And so we had to test different fabrics, different finishes and different ways of working. And it took a lot of trial and error. I think we’re on our fourth manufacturer right now, because the first three just weren’t a fit either. They didn’t know how to produce our product due to technology, they didn’t have the machinery, the knowledge. But those are things you find out over time. It’s somebody who didn’t come from manufacturing in the fashion world. It was something I had to get smart on. And it was very, I learned a lot. You know, I think had I come from this world, I could have probably launched sooner or done things differently. But I feel very confident in my knowledge now and that’s been helpful. And I learned early on to bring on teammates that supplement that side that I don’t have, because their knowledge, their expertise has been invaluable to our success. And the fact that we’re here today.

Michael Hughes 18:52
You know, one of the things that we talked about when we prepared for this show was just the story that you had about how you found your current manufacturer. Could you share that with our audience?

Nicole Cuervo 19:03
Yeah, I’d be happy to. It’s a bit of a story of serendipity. We were working with a manufacturing partner. And they were not able to find a material that worked with our product the way we wanted it to. So we currently use medium compression fabric. So something you would use more in a Spanx-like product, because we want to provide support without wires being wireless. And they weren’t able to find that but I knew it was available in the country. So I said, I will go find it myself. I had a wedding coming up in the same country and decided to go a day early to find a fabric supplier. A week prior to that trip. I went to a co working session with other Latino founders in Miami. It was the first of its kind and I almost talked myself out of it. I’m so glad I didn’t. And so I went and during lunchtime, we’re standing in a circle eating empanadas. Everybody’s introducing themselves in their businesses. Almost everybody was some version within a tech company and then they’re like, What do you do, I was like I make worlds which are obviously very different. And everybody was very interested because I’m the weird one in the room. And as I was talking to them, I mentioned that I was going to manufacture in Colombia. So I’m going to Colombia, and mentioned that I was looking for a fabric supplier. One person in the group was from Colombia, he had a friend, or has a friend who has been in textiles in Colombia for over 18 years, connected me to him, he then connected me to a fabric supplier, that they’re friends of his talk to them, they’re vertically integrated with a manufacturer. And so I ended up going and visiting both of them and I fell in love with it. They had both every technical capability that we needed, but they also really invested in fair labor and good working conditions. It was even like, the taxi driver that I had that was taking me around to the different factories, even mentioned it without them pushing him, he was like, you know, these are really great people, you should really like, they’ve been so good to me, and like paying me on time and all these things. So if even like, the driver they hired was speaking well about them when he didn’t need to be in the car by ourselves. It really showed me that these were good people to be in a relationship with and particularly your manufacturing relationship is one of the most important ones for any business, but particularly a small business just starting out. So I got very lucky, and I almost didn’t make my plane, but that’s a whole separate story.

Michael Hughes 21:28
But that’s terrific, though, because, you know, I’m just reflecting on everything that we’ve talked about in the show. And you know, people would say that A and this is great, this is why this is a great case study for human centered design, you know, there’s at least what the program that we have chosen, we sort of take it in five parts. One is kind of this visioning of the how might we you know, so and you’ve identified this problem around functional limitation with and undergarments, but that how might What is the vision of of what the problem is or the opportunity, then it’s the customer interviewing, you know, very, you know, empathetic, and not so much about what people want, but more about what people value or what their lived experiences like to really get to that. And then you went into all this ideation and the program, the contest that you did, was just an amazing way to kind of pull together people under the problem. And you basically articulated the problem to the point that 70 different engineering students wanted to sort of try to address the issue. And then we talked about and then the next, the fourth step is prototyping. And then you just test and learn. And so you’ve got all of those elements in place. In addition, you sort of have this, you know, that there’s all of these struggles of just being an entrepreneur, period. Right? I mean, there’s the risk. There’s a solution that will help people like this, but it just occurs to me just with that example of the clothing manufacturer. I mean, you’re not shy, people should not be shy about talking to other people. Well, what they’re doing, right, I mean, you know, just networking can work.

Nicole Cuervo 23:08
Yeah, it’s, I always grew up being pretty bashful as a person. And it took starting this business to get to a place where I felt comfortable with animals, and how to tell people about what I was doing all the time. And it proved to be really helpful, not only because it helped me and how I articulate the business to people, constant practice helps you sharpen your knives. But also because almost everybody wants to help you, particularly if you’re an entrepreneur, if you’re taking a risk if you’re doing something innovative. People are excited by that, because that’s not what the general population is doing. And so they want to help you, they’ll connect you, they’ll send you resources, they’ll be like, Oh, I talked to this person once who might be a good contact. And a lot of I’ve had a lot of moments like that where I’ve gotten a lot of success or help or support, because I put myself out there and I talked about the business in situations. And I think that’s very important for any entrepreneur to do. Or anybody who wants to even just get their idea out or start testing the waters. I remember when I was at Deloitte Consulting, I started doing this before I went to grad school where I’d had this idea for years. I had the idea for Springrose back in 2015. So this was back in 2019. And I started talking, I was like, Well, let me start floating it around and see what people think. And nobody told me it was a dumb idea. Nobody told me I even told my, like, 65 year old male clients, and they were like, Yeah, that’s wonderful. Like, my sister is a PT who works on this and I think she’d love it. And everybody just was so enthusiastic and yes, ANDing it that it was just it showed me that this was the right move. Not to say that if people tell you it’s a dumb idea that it is because some people don’t have creativity or vision, but I think generally it’s good to hear what other people think. And sometimes good things come from that.

Michael Hughes 25:00
It’s just terrific. And, you know, having this experience now this is your first startup, right?

Nicole Cuervo 25:07

Michael Hughes 25:08
Let’s start from the lemonade stands.

Nicole Cuervo 25:10
Aside from it was a very successful lemonade stand we made over $100 When we were eight. So that was a lot of money.

Michael Hughes 25:16
Well, that’s an in the seeds of entrepreneurialism was a can speak to say the word were born. Before we move on to those three questions we always ask every guest is there anything any other bits of advice that you would give to an entrepreneur that’s thinking about starting a business or people that are really trying to work through the growth of their business, knowing what you know now about your experience, or even just about human centered design?

Nicole Cuervo 25:41
I would say, in a similar vein to what we’re just talking about, one, don’t be afraid to tell people your idea, a lot of good things will come from that, and most people will rally to support you, even if you experienced the problem yourself. So obviously, I started this because of my grandmother and because of my loved ones. But even if I had a disability or some form of limited mobility, I would still encourage it. I’d still talk to people because your story is just that it’s a single story. And it’s a single data point. And you really need the collective perspective to understand what is worthwhile, what actually you should delve into more and what people need. I think there tends to be a big narrative around entrepreneurs being like, Well, I had this problem, and I saw, I knew it was an issue. And it’s like, no, you should talk to as many people as possible, because even if people have the same problem, they might experience it differently. And particularly when I work with a community that has limited mobility, one person’s pain is not the same as another even if they have the same condition. So understanding that is crucial. And then don’t be afraid to take a risk. It’s a hard one to say, because everybody has a different risk tolerance. But unless you go into mountains and mountains of debt, which I would not advise, I think this is a long winded one. But I think Shark Tank is a wonderful show. And I’m so glad it’s permeated popular culture and that it is popular and doing so well. I think it often creates a false narrative of what it means to be an entrepreneur. It’s this narrative of like, you should risk everything, you should put all your money, you should take out a second mortgage on your home. And that is absolutely not correct. Because if you’re not in a good place, financially, emotionally, you are not going to make the best decisions for yourself and for the business. And it’s going to be a very stressful time. So I would not take that approach, I would try and see. Test the waters first, you don’t need to dive in right off the deep end, I went to grad school for this purpose, I knew that I was not going to be an income for two years, I was always going to have access to resources and amazing mentors. And that was a choice I made because I didn’t want to just quit my job and delve right in. I didn’t think that was financially the right decision for me. So whatever feels right to you, start small and start with the problem.

Michael Hughes 28:08
That’s great advice, and a great, great place to end this part of the podcast. Nicole, thank you so much for being such a terrific guest. And we’re just before we get into our free questions, where can people find your company?

Nicole Cuervo 28:21
Thank you so much, Mike. They can find it on not .com. I do wonder how many people have not made it as a spring like the season and rose like the flower. One day we’ll acquire the .com Maybe. But they can find us at on our website and on every social channel.

Michael Hughes 28:45
Wonderful. Well, that’s great. So please check it out, just launched about what it’s terrific momentum, including Nicole’s company’s acceptance to the AARP Age Tech Collaborative, which is not a simple thing and so great to know that you’re part of that growth group. Okay, so we always ask our guests three questions about aging. And same questions every single guest, maybe we do the way we do this with you.

Nicole Cuervo 29:14
Let’s do it.

Michael Hughes 29:15
Okay. All right. So it’s alright, as part of the abundant aging podcast three questions. Okay. So question number one. When you think about how you aged, what do you think has changed about you or grown with you that you really like about yourself,

Nicole Cuervo 29:30
My confidence and my comfort in my own skin. It’s funny. Even in the last three years, I can see a very significant change in myself as a person. I’m more willing to put myself out there, to share my thoughts, to speak to a crowd on a moment’s notice. I think every year I become much more confident, and I wish I could go back to like high school or college as I am now. But like my body then you know, and just like living for a week and seeing how different life would have been. And I had a great time in high school and college, but I still think it’d be a very different experience to go with the maturity that I have now. And I just feel very comfortable in myself. And even if I have weird quirks as well, I’m sure everybody does. We’re all different people. I feel much more comfortable owning them and being true to myself and not having to bend myself over to kind of accommodate other people’s desires, needs or comforts.

Michael Hughes 30:31
Yeah, yeah. And I’ll tell you, I mean, that whole sort of like, I wish I could go back then and what I know now what I knew, then and all that I know, a lot of people, you know, sort of think about that, but owning I think owning your courts is another great thing. They’re what makes you special, you know? Yeah. So question number two is what has surprised you the most about you, as you’ve age

Nicole Cuervo 30:54
Change is harder than it seems. I would say I always imagined a life for myself, that was a certain way. But if you don’t build those habits early on, and little by little, it’s really hard to change later on. It’s shockingly so. I’m like, Oh, I will definitely be this way in five years. And then I’m not that way at all. Because I haven’t taken the time over the years to start building those habits. And I think like stretching daily, something I told myself, I will do every day, and then do like once a week, maybe. So I just need to be better disciplined about it. But also, I’m an eternal optimist, I need to start taking slow chunks, instead of being like, today is the day forevermore every day I will do this. And instead I need to give myself grace, and say, Okay, once a week for a couple of months, and then twice a week for a couple months, and then slowly build up the habit.

Michael Hughes 31:46
But here’s the thing, you know, I think you got such a great view of your future that we’re projecting yourself probably into age 100 or 105 or 110. I mean, that’s entirely possible now. So that’s just what comes to my mind is that the daily stretches are like just like an investment in your future. Right?

Nicole Cuervo 32:05
Yeah, I mean, I will live to 100, my great grandmother lived to 100. And I have grandparents in their 90s. So we’re on our way unless the world ends between now and then.

Michael Hughes 32:16
Yeah, let’s hope it doesn’t. Here’s the last one. And it’s: Is there someone that you’ve met, or somebody that has been in your life that has a good example for you and is teaching someone that has inspired you to age abundantly?

Nicole Cuervo 32:30
My grandmother rose, it’s a bit of

Michael Hughes 32:32
a, you were gonna say that.

Nicole Cuervo 32:36
But she says she lived until she was 91. And she had a lot of chronic pain and other things. But she still lived the life she wanted. She took the trips she wanted, she hosted friends all the time. She always had cake in the freezer ready, if you came over, she did her hobby. She started a hobby when she was well, it’s not even a hobby. It’s her professional background. But she started sculpting clay when she was 50, she was a sculptor. So by the time she was 90, she’d been doing it for 40 years. She’s an expert, she taught classes. She was always learning and constantly on the go and just lived her life in a way that was full of purpose and joy and community. And I think particularly the relationship piece is rolling forward as we age. And I think that she’s just a really lovely example.

Michael Hughes 33:25
It is a lovely example. Thank you very much for sharing that, Nicole, and thank you very much for being such a great guest on the show. This is Nicole Cuervo with Springrose, you can find her at . And most of all, thanks to you, our listeners for listening to this episode of the Art of Aging, which is a podcast as part of the Abundant Aging Podcast Series from United Church Homes. And we want to hear from you. What do you think about adaptive apparel? What sort of ways have you developed, you know, offerings for your business? What do you think of human centered design? What do you think of aging in general? We want to know, come to and give us your thoughts. You can also see all of our past shows. We hope you enjoy those you can also find us on YouTube at United Church homes. And also a reminder, please visit our Ruth Frost-Parker Center for Abundant Aging on the web. That’s and join the conversation that we’re hosting around ending ageism and promoting positive stories in aging. Thank you very much for listening. We’ll see you next time.