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Daily frustrations/excitements of a diabetic, student, and entrepreneur 

Boxes and Labels

I am a member of an entrepreneurship incubator at Fordham and our school’s Entrepreneurship club. At different meetings and events through these programs, I am often asked about what I do. When I start to explain Pumpstash, and give my deep ingrained elevator pitch, I’m often asked the follow up question “what type of product is that?” This seemingly simple question is where I begin to stumble a bit. The question wants to package Pumpstash in a compact little box and fit an equally compact label over it. The problem, is I can’t seem to fit, or am unwilling to try to fit, Pumpstash in a compact little box.

The major labels I get hit with are: fashion, athletic wear, wearable technology, and medical products. And while all of these are somewhat true, they are only a perfect fit if I close one eye, tilt my head to the side and ignore major aspects of the shorts.

Pumpstash slides into the fashion box because it is a clothing line and based on how much time I’ve spent in the design district learning about different fabrics, cuts, and styles. When I think fashion, however, I think beautiful, high-fashion couture. And while I think I’m incredibly proud of Pumpstash’s design, I don’t think we are going to be debuting at New York Fashion Week anytime soon.

The same can be said for any other box. Pumpstash is athletic wear, but also has more functions than a t-shirt. Our shorts support wearable technology and medical prodcuts, but at the end of the day are just fabric.

The entrepreneurship world isn’t the only one trying to shove me into compact boxes. In the diabetes world, we are often forced into one box or another as well, usually in an either or situation. Are you compliant or non-compliant? Are you on a pump or take shots? Do you have a good or bad A1C? Are you an active member of the diabetes community? Do you wear a CGM? And as much as I wish I could confidently say I’m a perfect diabetic, who always has great numbers, never takes a break from my CGM, has a consistently great A1C, and am always up to date on my diabetes Twitter, Instagram, and blogs, it’s just not true. The reality is, most of us are straddling both ends of the scale, leaning one way or another, but never fully in one box. A compliant T1D still has non-complaint days, pump wearers take breaks from the pump all the time, A1C’s can vary, and some days talking about diabetes is just not in the schedule.

I was recently meeting with one of the managers and mentors at the Fordham entrepreneurship incubator. The idea of labels and boxes came up in terms of Pumpstash. Her advice to me was not to try to shove Pumpstash in one little box, but to create my own. I can define my business anyway I want to. In the same sense, I can manage my diabetes in the best way for me. It does no good trying to shove my ideas and passions into a tiny box, or my numbers, frustrations, and daily care.

I still haven’t figured out which box is right for Pumpstash or for my diabetes care, but for now I am enjoying having a foot (or other limb) in a bunch of different boxes so I don’t unwillingly give up important parts of my business or care to be squeezed into somewhere I don’t fit.