Building a Global Diabetes Fashion Brand

5/18/16
WRITTEN BY: Sofia Larsson-Stern
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The Diagnosis

I was 15 years old when I was diagnosed. 15, super skinny, super tired, super thirsty and super confused. What was this? I had never been sick before, and hardly ever been to a hospital except for the routine controls. My mom was getting worried and one morning she brought me to the hospital to ease her mind.

When the blood tests came back, her mind wasn’t eased. Type 1 diabetes? What is this? How do we handle this? Both of us were even more confused (if that was possible) than earlier the same day, as we were assigned a room, a nurse and a doctor.

My first few days with diabetes were hard. I had to learn a whole new way of life. Routines, facts, carbohydrates, glucose tests and insulin shots. I had to shake off my fear of needles pretty quick.

 

The Decision

I remember how I one day sat outside the hospital in the sun, my back against the hospital brick wall. I was thinking to myself How come I didn’t know more about this condition before I was diagnosed? How much easier would the transition have been if I would have known more? Then and there I decided to make my Type 1 diabetes a part of me. I would be the girl with diabetes, in a cool way. I would make sure less people knew as little as I had known. And so my journey towards a diabetes entrepreneur slowly began.

 

The Beginning

Throughout my time in school, I did all I could to educate people about my condition. I showed my pump off as often as I could, tested my blood in public, and happily answered any curious questions. I gathered all my teachers and told them about what Type 1 diabetes is and isn’t. I talked in front of multiple classes, focusing on breaking down myths and prejudices around the condition.

Just over a year ago, I paused my university studies towards becoming an architect, in order to work on diabetes full-time. I started my own business, prepared my first lectures, and began my career at AnnaPS — a Swedish company selling clothes with integrated pockets for diabetes devices.

 

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The career — AnnaPS

During my career as a diabetes entrepreneur I have been lecturing about Type 1 diabetes to children, teachers, companies and hospitals. I have visited children diabetes camps, have been interviewed in magazines and even been featured on national television. This was all done in order to spread knowledge about a condition that is on the rise, yet is still invisible in the community.

Still, working as a Content Marketing and Social Media consultant at AnnaPS has been my main occupation during the past year. AnnaPS sells high quality clothes for men, women and kids — all with integrated pockets for diabetes devices. Personally, I could never live without them — but I also love spreading the word about them to fellow diabetics. It’s all about making the everyday life with diabetes a little easier. We have our hands full with HbA1c’s, carbs, insulin and planning…we shouldn’t have to worry about where our insulin pumps or pens are too. When keeping your diabetes devices in AnnaPS clothes, you know they’re comfortably, discretely and safely stored at all times, and you can wear and do whatever you want!

 

The Goal

I intend to keep working with diabetes related questions until I’ve made a difference. I would like to think a cure isn’t far away, yet I’m still not sitting around waiting for it. I’m trying to make the best out of my situation, and support others along the way. We are like one, big family, us type ones. We better stay together because no one will ever know how we feel or what we’re going through. If we raise our voices together, we’re strong and can improve the daily quality as well as the future for diabetes patients all over the world. So come on, let’s do this!


More on fashion: Shelene Knisley’s A Cinderella Story — A T1D Pursues Shoe Design with Mentors from Vogue and Katie Larson’s Pockets with Purpose



Sofia Larsson-Stern

Sofia Larsson-Stern is 23 years old and from Sweden. I have been Type 1 diabetic for nearly eight years (since I was 15 when I was diagnosed in July of 2008). I have been running my own company as a diabetes entrepreneur for just over a year. I run the biggest diabetes blog in Sweden, www.diabetesia.se (Instagram: @diabetesia.se), I hold lectures on what diabetes is and isn't and I work as a social media consultant for a few diabetes related companies. I also love to travel and have been to 25 countries, and actually lived in Africa for a year when I was younger! Why let diabetes stop you?