Man, wouldn't it be great if someone could fuse cute modern design with the functionality of the plain black cases our gear comes with? Wouldn't it be lovely if someone mistook your diabetes bag for just a "really cute bag and where did you get that"? Wouldn't that be Super Awesometown?
Can you see where I'm going with this?
Check out what I've been using for the past couple months, because you could win one of your very own:
The creator of this adorbs clutch is Monica Vesci, who lives with diabetes herself. Frustrated that she couldn't find a bag for her diabetes stuff that suited her needs, she launched her own business earlier this year. In her words:
"Women should not have to be embarrassed by an ugly black medical supply case while feeling insecure about their diabetes. My vision is to provide innovative, affordable luxuries for people living with diabetes. I’d like to empower women by helping them to feel more beautiful by taking care of their diabetes with style and pride."
I've enjoyed using this clutch and have a few thoughts to share on it, but before we get to the bags themselves, let's take a few minutes to meet the woman behind them:
Kim: Hi Monica! Can you tell us a little about your own personal experiences of living with diabetes?
Monica: I was a senior in high school when I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1994. I had been ill for several months leading up to the diagnosis but it never occurred to me that my symptoms could be signaling a chronic disease. I had never heard of diabetes and I didn’t know anyone who had it, so it was a total shock.
I came close to lapsing into a diabetic coma and was hospitalized for many days as insulin was pumped into me, working its magic. I was introduced to my diabetes self-care routine including carb counting, exercise, insulin dosing, blood sugar testing and a seriously restricted diet (no more Oreos?!) I took my diagnosis like a champ, accepting everything from the beginning and asked what I needed to do. Soon I was giving my own injections and thought “this isn’t too bad. I can do this”. I returned to high school and graduated.
Determined to not let diabetes stop me, I left for college in upstate New York and met my local team of diabetes physicians, nurses and educators. I soon realized, however, that trying to control my diabetes was much more difficult than I had originally thought. I wanted to eat pizza, drink beer and go to the cafeteria at odd times like everyone else. But that would have a disastrous effect on my health. I was sleeping a lot, missing classes and defiantly eating things I was told not to eat. I hated diabetes!
I became depressed and withdrew from my friends and social activities. Taking medical leave, I returned to Philadelphia to get things under control. My physician explained I had accepted the stages of diabetes in the opposite order. People typically go through denial first and acceptance last, but I did the reverse. I accepted it right away and after a year I was in denial.
A brief regimen of antidepressants and therapy helped me to get on with my life in a new, healthy way. I earned my degree in Fine Arts from Chestnut Hill College, in Philadelphia, and after six years of living with diabetes, I was finally accepting it. I was back in control.
How are you doing now?
My husband and I began pregnancy planning in January 2013. After years of multiple injections, I decided to try an innovative new pump to promote my potential health and that of our future child. Armed with research from my doctor, support from my team at Steno Diabetes Center and encouragement from my fantastic husband (who is a diabetes researcher), I am now wearing the Animas Vibe pump with the built in DexCom CGM to avoid having two medical devices with me all of the time.
This has been one of the best decisions in my diabetes care so far. I love this pump and with my A1c where it is now we are well on our way to planning for pregnancy. It’s a very exciting time knowing that I am at my healthiest and ready to start trying for a little one.
Best of luck to you on your journey to pregnancy! (And could you sneak me one of those Vibes?) So what lead you to want to create your own bags, and how do you envision them fitting into PWD's lives?
I’ve always had a bit of an entrepreneurial spirit. I love designing and I was tired of finding my used test strips and lancets all over the house, in my clothing, in my HAIR and in the bottoms of my purses. I wanted a more practical and safer way to carry my daily diabetes supplies, and, most importantly, a place to safely and discreetly dispose of hazardous waste while on the go. I hated digging into my bags to find something only to come up with a handful of used test strips and needle pricks. I wanted to carry my supplies with style and grace. There are other lovely products on the market but I feel they are geared mostly for children or young adults and I did not find them suitable for my needs.
The Camino Clutch is unique in that it houses a personal, removable sharps container in a discreet way. It allows the user to safely and securely dispose of used test strips, needle heads and lancets in an unassuming and stylish way. The puncture-resistant container has a screw top lid that can be tightened once the container is full and the hazardous waste discarded according to municipality standards. [Editor's note: I wasn't sure how often I'd use this feature of the bag, but it really has come in handy for the times I'm doing a pump set change at work.]
This is a classy-looking Clutch Purse with enough room to carry your glam stuff and your daily diabetes supplies. I designed it to make me and you feel beautiful with diabetes. Devoid of the standard medical kit velcro and elastic, the clutch can be carried on its own as a chic purse (perfect for running errands, a lunch date or a night out on the town) or thrown into a larger tote, gym or diaper bag.
Let's talk a bit about pricing, because while the bags are gorgeous, some may not find them as affordable as some of the other bags out there. How do you feel these differ from what already exists on the market, and how did you determine your price point?
We arrived at our current price point by adding up the cost of materials, production, transport and company operations. As a startup company, we are now learning that our price point is in the higher end of what our clientele would want to pay for a diabetes supply bag. This is something we are working on because we strive to be a company providing affordable luxuries for people living with diabetes.
Our clutch differs from others with on-trend style geared toward women and not children; the inclusion of the sharps container; high quality materials and production in the U.S. I began with an idea of a high quality bag produced in the U.S., so we chose a skilled, small-scale manufacturer in Brooklyn, NY. Although production time is a bit longer and production costs a bit higher, we chose this method because the quality is top notch.
Anything else you'd like people to know about you?
My parents and I are co-founders of “Ace For A Cure: Smashing Out Diabetes,” an annual tennis tournament, in Philadelphia, with all proceeds donated to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) for Type 1 diabetes research. Our 8th annual tournament will be played on June 10, 2013. Our tournaments, thus far, have raised $250,000 for diabetes research.
This fundraising initiative was launched because I was concerned that we were not doing enough to support diabetes research. We decided to go with a tennis format because of our love for the game. It is a grass court, doubles format, round robin tennis tournament that has expanded to two venues this year—the Germantown Cricket Club and the Merion Cricket Club. If you’d like to know more about the event, become a patron, volunteer or donate a raffle gift, please visit www.jdrf.org/aceforacure.
Very cool. Thanks for sharing your story, Monica!
What I like about this bag: it's sneaky in that it doesn't *look* like a diabetes bag, it's clearly very well-made (it actually reminds me, in terms of design, construction, and quality, of a Coach bag), it has appropriately-sized pockets and loops, and the sharps container is pretty genius. While I personally would prefer the outer material to be a bit more sturdy/stiff (it softens up a tad with use), I suppose that's a good thing for when you need to cram a bunch of stuff in there. It's a very roomy bag that is even long enough to hold a Dexcom G4 sensor still in its packaging - impressive! (I should also disclose that this bag was provided to me free, for review.)
So where can you find these goodies? Here:
And how can you win a free Camino Clutch of your very own? (You get to pick the design, btw - and
- You need to be a person with diabetes, or their caregiver.
- To enter, visit monicavesci.com then come back and leave a comment below about the strangest/funniest/weirdest place you have found a used test strip, and which Camino Clutch you would choose if you won.
- You can earn an extra entry for following @MonicaVesci on Twitter. (Be sure to mention that you are following her on Twitter in your comment below, for your extra entry to count!)
- Entries must be posted by 11:59 pm CST Sunday night (6/2/13), and one winner will be chosen at random*. The winner will be announced Monday morning on this same post - so check back here! (I'll tweet and post on Facebook when the update goes live.)
Good luck to you!
UPDATE: Congratulations to the winner - Jessi Panke!
I'll be contacting you shortly, Jessi. Thanks to everyone who commented for participating!