No one in our diabetes community has to be told that we have a lot of issues with schlepping supplies around. And it's always nice to have ways to personalize our carry options and make them "ours," right?
Well, that was notion that hit a fellow type 1 in France hard in several years ago, when he desperately wanted some personalized carrying case options that just didn't exist at the time. So, this French gentleman, Michael Mina, decided to do something about it. He left a career in the auto industry to pursue his own small business that would sell diabetes cases you could personalize on both sides with a design of your choice -- or even your own photo -- and by swapping out the inside portion to best fit the meter and supplies you use.
His little home-grown boutique biz based in Fléville Devant Nancy in northeastern France is called SEVEN, in honor of a special A1C goal that he set out to achieve many years ago. It's a perfect fit for our Small But Mighty series, highlighting small businesses launched by and for passionate PWDs (people with diabetes).
Here's a little intro to SEVEN:
We were happy to connect with Michael recently, to chat more about his new enterprise offering these cases worldwide, and to hear the backstory about what led to his idea and where the future may take him.
DM) Michael, can you start by sharing your diabetes diagnosis story?
MM) I was diagnosed in May 2007 when I was 32. Like most diabetics, I was very tired and I drank a lot. My doctor prescribed me a blood test and called me at my office to announce the result: HbA1c 11%.
Immediately, I was hospitalized for one week and I learned quickly to speak "diabetes."
Unfortunately, I knew about diabetes already at that time. My older sister was diagnosed two years before me, and she was 28. My sister took time to accept the disease, but the fact that I became diabetic too helped her. Now, we were able to discuss our daily difficulties. But at that time, I was not really conscious of the everyday life with diabetes. For example, I didn't imagine it was necessary to calculate the dose of insulin according to what we eat. Thus, I improved in mental calculation after my diagnosis!
How did you decide to start selling supply cases?
At the beginning, I didn't care about the case... many things were more important to learn. But I was having one of those days, and I knew what awaited me was my blood glucose meter in a gloomy, black case. How morbid! Why shall have I to see a black case every day?
Thus, SEVEN was born -- let's bring more color into our daily lives.
What did you do professionally at that time, and leading up to this new diabetes business venture?
I worked in the car industry in the logistics department for Renault. But I always wanted to create something by myself. I decided to leave that company to create cases for medical equipment. Lots of people said to me, "You are crazy! You had a good job!!" My feeling on that was, OK... but it's more gratifying to think that my case brings, maybe, just a little happiness.
So the cases are meant to be cheerful?
I would like, even if just a little, that these cases will brighten ours days especially for children. OK, we are diabetic, but why should we have no case that we are happy to see? For example, I customized my case with a picture of my children so when I control my blood glucose (and need to pull out my supply case), I'm happy to see them.
What's behind the name, SEVEN?
Just a nod to my HbA1C goal when I was in the hospital.
Have you hit that A1C goal?
I have hit one goal the first year, getting an A1c of 6.4. But my levels were irregular and I had a lot of hypoglycemia. Now, I balance my glycemia much better through a lot of sports -- mainly mountain biking. Every year, I give myself a sports challenge. In 2014, it was the Rock XC Challenge in mountain biking, which is 51 miles in eight hours.
When did you actually start selling your cases?
I started my business in France in June 2014, and about one month ago started selling them all over the world.
What are they made of, and how many styles and sticker choices do you offer?
They are made from thermoformed foam. You can choose a case with any model of stickers. There are 14 different models, 7 especially for children. Or you can choose to print your own picture on the sticker. There's just a single limit: your imagination!
What makes your cases different from other personalized ones out there?
Theses cases will last you for a very long time. They have stickers to apply on each side of the case. When you want to change the color of your case, just go back to the site and order a new sticker! There is also an adaptable inside if you want to change your medical equipment. So when you change your blood glucose meter, for example, you can keep the same case, and just order the new housing insert to make it fit right.
What do they cost, and are you offering any holiday deals?
No special deals, because the prices are already calculated at the lowest possible point, so that a maximum number of PWDs can take advantage of theses cases. So, they are 2150 Euros ($26.64 dollars) for a case with one of the pre-made stickers or 31.50€ ($39.03) for a case with your own picture.
Any specific plans or goals for the future?
I would like to develop cases for insulin pumps using the same concept.
Great creative idea, Michael! Thanks for taking the initiative to offer a new customizable option in the diabetes supply cases universe.