Poppy Medical ID’s Beginnings


Some people talk about a moment that changed everything. I never understood it … until I had a moment like that. The crazy thing is, it wasn’t on my wedding day (well, couldn’t have been, since I’m not married…)—it wasn’t on the fourth of July. There were no fireworks.

I was sitting on my couch. A couch where I’d been bored before. Nights and nights of boredom. A few months prior, I had taken up making craft jewelry as a hobby to bring a little creativity to my life.

I found myself doing an age-old activity: googling medical IDs. Etsy … Amazon … Google … Sticky J … Tiffany’s … Instagram-ing the hashtag #medicalid … nothing. Why. Why. Why. I just wanted a cute bracelet that, at its highest potential, could save my life.

Why didn’t it exist? Did no one care enough about girls like me to listen to what we actually wanted (and needed)? Did everyone just expect us to wear bulky tags, and call us vain if we didn’t? “You won’t wear a medical ID even though it could save your life? That’s shallow.”

I felt like I had tried everything … from metal-stamping plates to making medical ID’s with craft supplies. My creations looked homemade. I wanted luxury—I wanted shiny, and sleek, and silver and gold. I learned that the only way to create that “Tiffany’s” look, is to do the same thing they do: manufacture fine jewelry (go figure). This would involve designing something in CAD (3D modeling software), 3D printing it, having it cast in silver and gold, and finished by professional goldsmith. Needless to say, I couldn’t do that in my living room.

I threw up my hands. I continued to go to my day job. I continued to make craft jewelry. I continued to be mad, and bored—all at the same time.

And then … came the moment. The moment of realization that changed my life. I was on the boredom couch, making a pair of earrings, thinking about my quest for an ID I could love. (I had been a person with diabetes for 16 years.) If the product hadn’t come along yet, would it ever? Would it be 10 more years? What would happen to Gabrielle—my best friend, a fellow type 1 diabetes (T1D), whom I had known most of my life — if she had an emergency during that span of time? What would happen to Kendra? To Simone? Could I live with it if something bad happened to them for want of a bracelet? Hands down, definitely not, 1000 percent “no.”

Somebody had to care about us … and I realized that person was ME.

Shortly thereafter I quit my job and moved to California to enroll in CAD for jewelry design at the Gemological Institute of America. I had a simple goal: create a medical ID that I, and my friends, would actually want to wear. I wanted to remove the choice between our dignity versus our well-being (and our lives).

It’s been two years since the moment that altered the course of my life. The moment when an idea—a burning desire to stand up for girls with medical conditions everywhere—turned on in my head and wouldn’t turn off.

Fast-forward to now, and a lot has changed … I started a company, Poppy Medical ID, so that’s a thing now! There have been a lot of highs, and a lot of lows (I have the Dexcom screenshots to prove it). I still have the boredom couch but I barely sit on it.

I never wanted T1D to define me, and it doesn’t—but my love for my friends, does. T1D has given me the opportunity to embark on a crazy adventure way outside my comfort zone—learning CAD, manufacturing jewelry, building a website and opening and running a business. T1D has given me the chance to make a difference in the world for my friends, for myself and for individuals and families who have hungered for a different medical ID option. And for that, I’m forever grateful.

Check out Poppy Medical ID’s bracelets and read A Diabetes Makeover by Kyrra Richards.

WRITTEN BY Sarah Harmon, POSTED 09/20/16, UPDATED 10/01/22

Sarah lives in Seattle, WA, where she is owned by her spotted mini-dachshund. She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) in 1998, at the age of 8, and is particularly grateful for the friendships it has brought into her life! In her free time, she enjoys getting outside and being active. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @poppymedical or on Facebook: fb.com/poppymedical.