I’m a Frosty, and here’s why I created the first ever ultra-thin heated gloves
by Natalie Dicou
Hello, and welcome to the Cold Hands Blog. My name is Natalie Dicou, and, well, I’m a frosty: I’ve got a bad case of Raynaud’s Syndrome. It’s why my wife Nico and I started Toasty Touch and created the world’s first-ever ultra-thin heated gloves.
It all started in my backyard garden.
I was watering my tomato plants with a leaky hand-sprayer when I looked down and noticed something odd had happened to my index finger. The tip was starkly white.
For 10 minutes, cold water had been trickling over that finger, and it looked like I’d dipped it in flour.
I did a double take, scrunched my face and blinked my eyes in an attempt to compute what I was looking at.
I’d never heard of Raynaud’s before. I was puzzled but not too concerned as I dropped the hose and went inside to squeeze my fingertip to bring it back to rosy life.
On that spring day, I didn’t have a clue how profoundly Raynaud’s would affect, change, and upend my life.
I didn’t know that my Raynaud’s would accelerate from zero to 90 in a matter of months – if the temperature wasn’t at least 70 degrees, my fingers turned white and ulcers began to form on the tips. I didn’t know I would try every medication my doctors could think to throw at me, and that nothing would help.
And I certainly didn’t have the foggiest inkling that my wife Nico and I would start a heated gloves company after realizing, following an exasperating search, that the gloves I needed to maintain my quality of life simply didn’t exist.
I was quite naive that day when Raynaud’s abruptly crashed the party known as my late 30s. In a way, I’m glad it first appeared in my backyard garden rather than, say, while reaching for a box of fish-sticks on the freezer aisle.
After all, my garden is my favorite place in the world, and nothing seems as daunting or hopeless when I’m kneeling to inspect a flower or twisting a cucumber from the vine.
When I discovered I had Raynaud’s, I was a backyard farmer and co-owner alongside Nico of Lincoln Street Farm. We had built a successful business selling our candles, flower bouquets, veggie seedlings, and more. But our business required chilly, early-morning starts at farmers’ markets and pressing my fingers into icy soil. Heartbroken, I realized I wasn’t going to be able to do that kind of work anymore.
And so we pivoted. We’d found a massive gap in the heated-apparel market. We’d been frustrated by the lack of products for cold-handed people with not just Raynaud’s but arthritis, lupus, poor circulation, and others. All the heated gloves available were bulky and made for outdoor sports, not maintaining dexterity. We decided to bridge the gap, and Toasty Touch was born. The gestation process is at last complete. The gloves we created help me enjoy life every day, and I can’t wait for others to benefit from them too.
As part of Toasty Touch, I’ll be writing the Cold Hands Blog. It’ll be a space to tell more of my story; interview others and tell their stories; and share news about Raynaud’s and other polar-pawed topics. Before becoming an urban farmer, my jobs included newspaper reporter and patient education writer. My former lives seem to be converging as I embark on this new journey, and I hope you’ll come along.