Innovation That Matters

Designer bags for glucose testers

Work & Lifestyle

Nearly 21 million people in the United States have diabetes, and for many of them, checking blood sugar levels is a daily ritual. Why not brighten up that disagreeable yet necessary task by carrying your testing supplies in an attractive case, wondered Rickina Velte? When she was pregnant with her second son, Velte was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and instructed to test her blood sugar several times a day. The problem, she explains on her website, was that the utilitarian bags that come with glucose meters clashed with her personal design taste. They tended to get lost in her purse and they were an unwelcome message to the world about her illness. So in typical entrepreneurial fashion, Velte first searched for cheerier bags to carry her testing supplies. Finding none, she decided to make them herself. The result? Virginia Beach-based Stick Me Designs, which sells styles that range from denim to floral, via a website that puts a positive spin on the disease. Velte wisely enlists customer input for new designs, helping build loyalty in the process. That could be an important factor in her long-term success, since many of those customers likely will face a lifetime of daily tests, and decide that one attractive carrying bag (priced at USD 34.99) just isn’t enough. Stick Me Designs may be on to something. A recent BusinessWeek article noted that more manufacturers are looking to aesthetics in order to make diabetes management more palatable for sufferers. “The goal,” according to the magazine, “is to provide diabetics with equipment that fits as seamlessly into their lives as, say, an iPod, complete with an intuitive interface and a ‘cool’ design factor that encourages patients to monitor their health and self-treat the disease.” Velte’s success at putting a positive spin on managing her own disease should be an example for other entrepreneurs: products that add a level of cheerfulness to the tasks of disease management will be welcomed by patients, and targeting a defined groups of consumers can offer unique marketing opportunities, using platforms such as syndrome-related user groups, websites and blogs. Spotted by: Susanna Haynie



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