Business creates “fashionably appealing” wheelchairs


Lucia Sarabia

One of the wheelchair customizations done by “Designs by Lulu.” Each design is one-of-a-kind, as Lulu prefers to work with her clients in coming up with ideas for what they’d like in the design.

Lucia Sarabia and Lucia Sarabia

Pete Moye’
Arts Button

“Designs By Lulu” is the company that Maria De Lourdes, known also as “Lulu,” put together to enhance the look of the average wheelchair.

Lulu first started working for a wheelchair upholstering company 20 years ago when she began to think of ideas to make a wheelchair look more fashionably appealing.

She wanted to create something to change the look of the average wheelchair.

“I used to put myself in their place, like if I am in a wheelchair how would I want it to look. I want to give more life to the chairs,” Lulu said.

She began to add different colors to the wheelchairs, and that’s where her idea came about.

Many students here at Cerritos College had no knowledge about “Designs by Lulu” but when they were informed about it they thought it was a good idea.

Bryan Santamaria, physical education major, never considered reupholstering his wheelchair.

“This one I wouldn’t do it because its old,” he said.

Bryan decided that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to customize and reupholster his chair after finding out the type of work Lulu does to wheelchairs.

Lucia Sarabia
Maria De Lourdes with one of her wheelchair designs, having embraced her goal to “give more life to the chairs.” Her dream would be to take “Designs by Lulu,” her company, from her home and establish a boutique.

Nine years ago, Lulu launched a website in which customers can see some of her work and place orders as well. Lulu began to work from home and is currently still working from home.

The designs Lulu creates are one-of-a-kind. She explains that all her designs are custom-made and there is no design like any other. “I don’t do two designs alike, I just make custom work.”

Lulu spends a couple of days to design and finish up a custom wheelchair depending on how much detail the customer requested.

Details such as embroidery take more time due to the fact that she does it by hand and also works alone.

Another student explained that he had seen this type of work before but that he had never heard of “Designs by Lulu.”

Filemon Garcia, an automotive major, said, “It’s a good idea for anybody that wants to customize their chair for any occasion.”

A few years ago, Lulu displayed her work in a fashion show at the convention center in the city of Long Beach.

She also attends the Abilities Expo, in which she is allowed to display her work for other people to see.

She dreams of one day opening up a boutique to provide all wheelchair needs for adults and children.

“The dream is to have a boutique, for handicap people where they can come and get fixed whatever they need and order whatever they need and they can find what they want,” she said.

What motivates Lulu the most about her job is the feedback she receives from her customers after she’s designed something special and unique for them.

The customer and Lulu brainstorm together to gather ideas and produce exactly what the customer desires.

Her prices average from $300 and up.

For more information on prices and designs visit the website at or email Lulu at [email protected]