This week, we're visiting with another D-Bling provider, Kate Ward, who launched ChicAlertMedID out of New York City in January 2013. She's a 14-year type 1 veteran with a background in the fashion business. Put simply, she hated the notion of having to wear a medical ID at all at first. After many years of frustration, it occurred to her that she could design a whole new line of trendy choices for fashion-aware PWDs.
Kate has over eight years experience in the fashion jewelry industry, with experience in Merchandising, Sales, Marketing, Buying and Consumer Economics. She was also the creator of the now-defunct fashion culture blog, FabulousGirlNYC.
"Having spent the 14 years prior looking for chic, fashionable and trendy medical jewelry, I knew there was none to be had," she says. "I knew it was time to put my knowledge to the test and design my own line."
Be sure to leave a comment below for your chance to win one of two vouchers for a free piece of fab medical jewelry!
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Chic Alert's Jewelry Bling
What I like about ChicAlert's necklaces and bracelets is that they have a big, bold look to them. None of the traditional, dry hospital ID-ish "sensible shoes approach." And they're certainly not trying to be subtle. They're not trying to beat anyone at the pretty beads game, either. The pieces have their very own "in your face" fashion look. Kate uses a lot of hammered metal, star and antique key shapes, etc. on trendy 22 to 25-inch chains.
OK, so there's a tiny bit of the worry of, "Is this too pretty to save my life?" Meaning in case of a real emergency, would EMR folks even notice that I'm wearing medical ID? But I have to suppose they're all a bit more sophisticated nowadays.
Prices range from $19 for a keychain or basic bracelet, to $99 for the heaviest-grade gold-tone necklace.
We talked with Kate, to learn more about her background and company:
DM) Where did you grow up, and what's your diagnosis story?
KW) I am originally from Olney, Maryland. I grew up there and my family still lives there. I moved to Florida after high school to attend Florida State University where I graduated with a BS in Fashion Merchandising. I now live in New York and have been here for the past seven years.
I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was in my freshman year of college. It was Spring Break and was very scary being so far away from home. I came down with typical symptoms such as weight loss, severe thirst, vision impairment... just to name a few, and I knew something was wrong. While on Spring Break I was hospitalized and immediately diagnosed with diabetes and thyroid disease. When I was admitted to the hospital, my blood sugar was well over 800 and I remained in the ICU for two weeks while my blood sugar was regulated!
What would you say has been diabetes' biggest impact on your life?
I try to see the positive in all things and feel like I was given diabetes for a reason -- and that was to start ChicAlertMedicalID. Because of diabetes, I was able to follow my dreams of owning my own business where I can share my stylish medical ID jewelry with the world, hopefully putting a more positive spin on having a medical condition and allowing effected people to feel a little bit better about it.
How did you get the inspiration to make this unusual medical jewelry?
I would always search for fashionable medical ID jewelry to wear for my diabetes and never find anything good. All of the options where ugly and made me feel worse about myself. So after years of research and development, Chic Alert Medical ID was born in January 2013.
My current designs come from a place of class and sophistication, making the person wearing it feel better about themselves and their medical condition. Giving them a bit more confidence, I hope. I'm inspired by the idea that: If you look good, you feel good!
How do you get the pieces made and handle distribution, etc. if it's just you?
As a small and growing business, I currently handle all aspects of the business myself. I do have some items manufactured overseas, but most are custom made by me in New York. I have a small studio in the city where production, processing and shipping takes place. Being organized is key.
How does ChicAlertMedicalID aim to help PWDs beyond offering great bling?
We start by offering quality items at reasonable prices. We also work closely with and sponsor ADA activities in the Greater New York area. We plan to give back as much as we can as the business grows.
'Mine Readers Discount
Kate has generously offered a reader promo code, valid from today until 11/30/13:
Enter BlingID at checkout for 10% off your entire purchase -- one-time use per customer.
Also, read below to learn how to enter to win!
A DMProducts Giveaway
Interested in winning one of two $40 Gift Vouchers for ChicAlertMedID products?
Entering the giveaway is as easy! You know how it works:
1. Just post your comment below and include the codeword "DMProducts" -- a valid email address is required to win.
2. This week, you have until Friday, Sept. 20, at 5 p.m. PST to enter.
The contest is open to all (diabetes fashionistas). Best of luck!