If you are a child with type 1 diabetes, chances are you are managing this incurable disease with an insulin pump - a computerized device you attach to your body that delivers insulin 24/7. This way you do not have to manually inject insulin throughout the day. However, wearing a device attached to your body every day causes a new set of challenges, especially for children and youth. The free movement becomes limited, your peers can see it and it raises questions. You are limited in your leisure opportunities and most importantly, the device is vulnerable and might be broken during play, which causes serious health risks.
To address these challenges, social entrepreneur Simona Koncyte founded Our Pocket Hero - a sustainable clothing brand for children with diabetes.
“I never planned that I would be making clothing in my life, but around 6 years ago my friend’s little boy was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I wanted to step in and to fill the gap in the market. We couldn’t find anything similar.” - shares Simona, who has a master degree in international marketing and management, as well as an education in costume design and pattern making.
The clothing Simona creates have special functional pockets, where an insulin pump can be kept safe and isn’t visible. This gives children more freedom to move and play, making it easer to integrate into society. Our Pocket Hero produces different types of clothes for boys and girls - various T-shirts, pants, shorts, skirts and dresses. Although they are made with the needs of children with diabetes in mind, they are suitable for all children. They are colourful and comfortable, and from a GOTS-certified cotton, made in a sustainable and eco-friendly way.
One of the children who uses Our Pocket Hero’s clothes is Karolina - a fourth grader with type 1 diabetes. She shares:
“I, as all my type 1 diabetes friends, wear a special insulin pump belt to carry my insulin pump. The belt is problematic because it can open during play, and I bump into things with it while playing. But the biggest issue for me with wearing the special belt, is that others can clearly see it. After purchasing the Our Pocket Hero skirt and 2 t-shirts, I learned that there is another way of wearing your insulin pump. I like the colors, and I realized that living with type 1 diabetes became a little bit easier in general with the new clothes. I learned how to place the pump in the new clothes and I found that they provided me with a safer feeling as well as privacy while wearing my insulin pump. The clothes allowed me to not constantly think about my life companion — the insulin pump. I also found that there was room for me to carry all of the necessary equipment to properly manage my diabetes. I define myself as a somewhat active girl. With the new clothing I want to play more than I did before. If I can manage my diabetes easier, even just a little bit, I feel happier!”
Simona launched her idea in Lithuania in 2019 with the support of Reach for Change and an investment from our partners ‘the ella fund’. In our Incubator we focused on helping her develop a sustainable business and financial model, organise her impact measurement and management procedures, as well as gaining visibility.
Today Our Pocket Hero has an online shop and is quickly growing. Simona’s dream is to create a strong supporting community, and find more ways for children with diabetes and their parents everywhere to never feel alone and enjoy their lives beyond the illness.
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