29 September 2020
With Paired, Kate Fichard and Margot Grangeon have created the first brand of earwear jewelry to dress hearing aids. The auditory equivalent of eyewear.
By Sandrine Merle.
One Saturday while passing through Belleville, I stopped in front of the Paired campaign posters. Having recently suffered from sudden deafness in my left ear, I was obviously intrigued by these images of models with ears adorned with gold or silver metal protrusions. Men, women,millenials, seniors … All wore a thread tied around their Airpod, a silver shell hugging the back of the ear or an element like a casting emanating from the inside. I wanted to know more about these ergonomic jewels.
These jewels are not only decorative: they dress the hearing aids. The noise reduction devices and headphones were the brainchild of Kate Fichard, who has been wearing hearing aids since the age of 4. As a photographer, she often focused on jewelry, but the idea of Paired was born when she had her first hearing aids equipped with Bluetooth. “My mother always sent me to a normal school and refused to let us wallow in self-pity, says this pretty trendy thirty-something, who doesn’t hesitate to pull her hair back. And I was also fed up with that medical flesh color, which contributes to the taboo of the device.” Digital marketing veteran Margot Grangeon, who has previously worked for Webedia and the Étoile Rouge agency, is in charge of the business side of things. The wild poster in Paris was her idea.
The power of fashion
Before the Paired adventure, Kate presented her first manifest collection at the Hyères festival in 2018. The award-winning unique and importable pieces were not marketable, but they had one advantage: they finally shed light on this public health problem. “Only fashion and beauty have the power to remove all obstacles,” says Margot Grangeon. This hybridization of deafness and beauty, riding on the fashion for AirPods and other headphones should help change the way we look at the hearing aids we’ve always associated with our grannies. Why shouldn’t they become hyper-creative fashion accessories like the oversized and colorful seventies eyewear by Gucci?
Young people: the most keenly affected
Spread the word! It’s mind-boggling how many people are concerned by earwear. In France, there are 10 million people with average to total deafness… only 15% of whom wear hearing aids! The majority compensate and suffer in silence. But these jewels are not only designed for hearing aids and tinnitus sufferers. The “Jacks” fixed on noise reducers protect from the din of restaurants, the unbearable racket of the streets of Paris, the second noisiest city in Europe, and decibel levels in concerts. “Young people are the first to be affected because they mess up their ears with headphones,” adds Margot Grangeon.
A socially committed future
Very concerned by this subject’s links to well-being and fulfillment, Kate and Margot want to go further than earwear with screening campaigns (half the French population have never had their hearing tested) or by facilitating access to culture (such as the introduction of subtitles in the cinema). “It’s a similar fight to that of condoms,” concludes Margot Grangeon. They envisage partnerships with music festivals, companies often organized inopen spaces such as Facebook or WeWork and why not, an airline company? The singer Angèle is a dream ambassador for Paired: on Konbini, the singer testifies to her tinnitus-related suffering (which also concerns her brother, Romeo Elvis). Just listen to “J’entends”!