Tell us a little about your diabetes story. When were you diagnosed? What was it like if you remember?
I was diagnosed just three months after my younger brother, Mark, 42 years ago way back in 1978. With no technology or standardized devices, on top of the assumption that most juvenile diabetes cases were almost exclusively hereditary, I was instructed by my family physician to check my “glucose” on a urine strip every week and report back if the color darkened or fell outside the normal range.
Well, it did. I vividly remember my mother taking me to the emergency room for a full-on blood draw (fingersticks came about 15 years later). It was high but only in the 400s, so I was fairly asymptomatic. A much different experience than my brother who got extremely sick prior to diagnosis.
I was immediately admitted and spent the longest week ever poking and practicing injections – on an orange! Not anything like the real thing. Not to mention, with insulins (NPH and Regular) that were wildly unpredictable! Acclimating to a strict diet, on hospital food, nonetheless, was a ton of fun too.
"I knew no one with T1D, knowing there were dozens of students just like me; struggling, pretending, making the most of it all -- I say all the time, to have CDN back then would have been such a boost"
What did you do before starting Wears Woody?
I started my career in retail and spent about 12 years in the medical device field selling insulin pumps and CGM devices.
When I got into my late 20s, I was traveling and working ridiculously long hours in the hustle and bustle of NYC. My health suffered so I decided to pursue a career in a field that would make my diabetes much more front of mind.
Fortunately, my industry experience afforded me the opportunity to quit working in corporate. And my MBA at Babson gave me the confidence to know I could manage it.
What drove you to start the company?
I have always had the itch to something different, bet on myself and do my own thing. At the same time, I wanted to create a business that could make much more noise (and donation dollars) for diabetes. I believe we are on our way to making an impact that people in the diabetes community (and beyond) truly feel, while building a legacy that will contribute to better lives for PWD and a cure, of course, in due time.
"If you have just a few more great days than not so good ones, you are on the right track. Keep going and feel proud."
How has having T1D impacted you as an entrepreneur?
It motivates me every day. I make no excuses and try to live life no less than everyone else, with or without a chronic condition.
As we always say at Wears Woody, our purpose is to “chase your wildest dreams, make a bold statement and believe that living with T1D should be no different.”
What advice would you give to young adults with T1D who want to start a business?
Start! The hardest thing to do is to take that first step. Even if you are not 100% convinced your concept is ready for prime time. You will eventually figure it out. Lean on that passion that pushed you over the edge, stick with it and TRY to have fun.
It is much like living with T1D. If you have just a few more great days than not so good ones, you are on the right track. Keep going and feel proud. It gets better, easier the longer you live (with) it.