Diabetes is hard enough for adults to control, so imagine how a child must feel. Insulin pumps are often necessary gadgets for people with this problem, but for a child that means standing out from classmates.
When Julie DeFruscio’s daughter was diagnosed with diabetes at three years old, she instantly saw a need to help kids look good and feel good too. At first Julie asked a friend’s mom to create pockets for all of her daughter’s shirts, so she could carry her pump, and look nice too. She loved how the shirts turned out so much, Julie decided to make a business out of it. Working with her best friend, Pump Wear Inc. was born. Today they also offer some creative options for adults also suffering from diabetes.
I recently asked Julie a few questions about her business and the inspiration behind it.
Tell us a little about Pump Wear.
Pump Wear was really created from the heart! There was never a business plan it just sort of happened. My daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and at the time she was 3 years old and the best way to manage her diabetes was with an insulin pump. An insulin pump looks like a beeper or cell phone and is essentially her life support. So this device needs to be worn 24/7. When she got her pump they gave her this really ugly looking harness to hold it in, and that just broke my heart. So I started having a friends mom sew pockets into her t-shirts and found that she could wear the pump and look cute this way. My best friend and I were searching the net for other ways for her to wear her pump and we could not find anything that was not very medical looking. So we said you know what we can make a difference, lets start our own company and make our on line of clothing and cases for the insulin pump. Which we did, 4 months after Nikki went on the Pump , Pump Wear Inc. was up and running on the Internet.
What inspired it?
The love of my daughter was the true inspiration, I wanted her to have a positive fun experience living with a device that is her life support. Since we started our company my 2 sons were also diagnosed so they have inspired us to grow our boys and mens line as well.
What are some of the products you offer?
We offer all different types of insulin pump cases, we offer clothing such as shirts, bra’s underwear, night wear all with built in pockets for the insulin pump. We also do walk t-shirts, and a full line of diabetes awareness items.
How many colors/styles/sizes does your pump wear clothing come in?
Today we offer over 800 different products, with all different styles of pump cases we offer cases with hooks, belts, clips, swivel clips, clothing with pockets where you want them, front, back or you tell us. We also offer cases that you get to put your very own picture on.
Are you adding any new products to your line in the near future?
We add new products every week, If there is a way to hide your pump we will find it! We have lots of new fun cute designs coming in for the fall!
Do you have any goals you’d like to accomplish over the next year or so?
We would really like to able to have a diabetes game that we just developed (it’s a board game) sponsored by a major company, so that we could get it out to many.
What are some lessons your business has taught you?
That persistence is the best you can do and don’t let someone tell you it can’t be done. My best friend and co-owner of Pump Wear Dawn and I have found that going with our gut feelings have always worked out the best for us.
Do you have any tips or tricks that help you maintain a good balance between family and work?
I have been lucky I have a wonderful husband that has helped us stay balanced, he is a true partner and helps with everything, so this allows me the time to develop and create.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
We would love for everyone to visit our site, because we also have done several things to help in the diabetes community, one we have a link for a series of “Diabetes Tidbits” bite size tips that have helped us along the way.
We also have a “caring and Sharing weekend” where families can recommend their family to come to a “free” entire family weekend. 2012 will be our 4th annual free family weekend where we send 20 families totally free so they can bond and regroup.
We also have the “Wall of change” where people can form the number of years they have had diabetes with their spare change take a picture, send us the picture and the change goes to the Diabetes Research institute funding a cure 1 dime at a time.
Do you have any advice you’d like to offer fellow entrepreneurs who are just getting started?
When starting a business I would say truly start a business doing something that you love, because you will be spending a lot of time doing it. People ask me all the time how do you do this, and to me it’s something I love doing so it’s not work it’s my passion!