Checking Out Innovative Diabetes Products & Companies at the Children with Diabetes Conference
The exhibit hall at this year's Children with Diabetes conference in Orlando, Florida, from July 23 to 27, 2008, featured expensive and elaborate booths from well-known companies like LifeScan and large organizations such as the American Diabetes Association. But another kind of company also welcomed people to their booths. They were the diabetes start-ups, companies that were started more often than not because of an intimate connection to the world of diabetes. I spoke to representatives of five of these companies about their products, their mission, and their inspiration.
Pump Wear Inc.
Julie DeFruscio and her business partner, Dawn Juneau, founded Pump Wear Inc. soon after her youngest child, Nikki Tyler, started using an insulin pump at age three. Julie and Dawn worked together to create Pump Paks, colorful fannypack-like cases for insulin pumps that come in different designs. Pump Wear Inc. has since expanded to include additional items, like sleepwear, meter cases, and medical ID bracelets. They also have a line of items for adults.
After the launch of Pump Wear Inc., Julie's two older children, Patrick and Adam, were also diagnosed, four months apart. "We live and breathe diabetes in our house, so creating and providing our services to other families has really been rewarding," Julie says. "The people we have met and the friends we have made have been wonderful." Pump Wear Inc. supports a wide range of diabetes organizations, and they also sponsor an all-expenses paid weekend retreat for families at the Double H Ranch in Lake Luzerne, NY.
More information about Pump Wear Inc.
Florida native Maria Lester founded Skidaddle bags with her business partner, Karen Schneider, this year after being inspired by her eight-year-old daughter, Maiya, to provide "uniquely fashionable and functional medical supply bags."
"The light bulb moment came to me after one of many complaints from my daughter about not having a ‘happy' bag to hold her medication and supplies." Skidaddle bags are beautiful multi-colored bags made from durable fabric that look like regular purses, not the sterile medical bags usually given to patients. Lester and Schneider launched part of their new women's and girls' collections at the Friends for Life conference, and their men's and boy's lines are currently in development. Although she is a working mom of two, Lester says, "Knowing the good that will come to people like my daughter makes it all worthwhile."
Their web site will go live soon, so keep it bookmarked. In the meantime, you can email Maria at email@example.com for more information.
Diabetes is a family affair for Lara Jensen. Lara and her mother-in-law live with type 2 diabetes, while her three nieces and one nephew (all siblings) have type 1. She co-founded CoolMedID with her sister-in-law after having trouble getting her mother-in-law to wear a medical ID bracelet. "She refused," Lara says, "because she didn't like them and the metal tarnished on her skin."
"We know that many people don't like the traditional forms of ID, and so our wristbands, dog tags, circle pendants, and key chains/zipper pulls are a great alternative," Lara explains. She says her mother-in-law now wears a medical ID bracelet every day and even coordinates them with her outfits. CoolMedID supports the diabetes community by donating products to organizations. Recently, Lara sent a large donation to the International Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Diabetes, hoping to encourage people in developing countries to wear medical identification.
More information about CoolMedIDs products
Kangaroo Pump Pockets
As the mom of two daughters with diabetes, Tricia Wood wanted to create undergarments to give adults and children with insulin pumps more options to wear normal clothing. Kangaroo Pump Pockets products include camisole bras with a pocket and boxer briefs with a pocket on the inside thigh.
"Wearing a pump can be very frustrating," Tricia says, adding that teens often don't want to wear the pump because they don't want the pump to be seen. "I love to see the proud faces I see in my children because we have managed to make something positive out of such a negative. They love feeling a part of a bigger diabetic community that has banded together."
KPP gives 2 to 5% of every sale to the JDRF, which has been instrumental in allowing the business to grow. Tricia and Michelle are also YouTube celebrities with their "Type 1 Mom Song" video. Two new products are expected to launch next spring, so stay tuned to the KPP web site.
Rescue Me IDs
Rachael Kasper is no stranger to diabetes. Two of her three children have diabetes, as well as her sister, cousin, and mother-in-law. Rachel started Rescue Me IDs to create acceptable and creative medical ID bracelets that are also durable and recognizable. She offers custom engraved medical ID bracelets in different styles, including hemp, watchbands, silicone, and satin, as well as chains and beads, zipper tags, and shoe tags.
"Our ID's are meant to be durable, comfortable, fashionable, and reasonably priced while still serving their main objective," Rachel says. The medical IDs are approved by several paramedics, and only those that pass the test make it into the final product line.
Rachel used to work for several top U.S. diabetes research facilities supported by JDRF, so Rescue Me IDs donates a portion of proceeds to the organization. They also donate ID products to several hospitals whose patients cannot afford their own. "I am a strong believer that all children who need medical identification should be able to get it," Rachel says. "It can help save a life."
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