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Where Are They Now? 2016 LBNN Award Finalist: Anna Sjӧberg, CEO and Founder of AnnaPS

This week we caught up with Patient Entrepreneur and 2016 Lyfebulb-Novo Nordisk Innovation Award finalist, Anna Sjӧberg! (Check out our interview with Anna where she discusses her company, AnnaPS here!) Anna and I got to talking about the award, and the amazing partnerships she has had since! Read on!


Bruna Petrillo: Hi Anna! For those who are not familiar with your company, tell us a little bit about AnnaPS.

Anna Sjӧberg: AnnaPS is a brand that makes clothing with integrated pockets to make it easy to carry all of your diabetes devices. The clothes are made by diabetics for diabetics and have unique functions to carry an insulin pump in the pockets in a safe, discrete and good looking way. The clothes also have specially designed pockets for insulin pen, hand units for Omnipod, CGM (Dexcom), Freestyle Libre, blood sugar meters, etc.

BP:  You were a participant of the 2016 LBNN Award, what was your biggest take-away from the Summit?

AS: The power to meet other diabetes entrepreneurs, learn from the LyfeBulb team, and to get in touch with Novo Nordisk staff and organization.

 

BP: Why do Patient Entrepreneurs matter?

AS: I think we have a driving a force to really make a difference for other patients in the same situation. We can really understand the needs that need to be solved and can test and evaluate in real life.

I think we have a driving force to really make a difference for other patients in the same situation.

BP: What has been your greatest achievement since the LBNN Award?

AS: I think it is our launch on Amazon.com, and our invitation to sell our products on the Lyfebulb Market Place alongside other interesting brand making cool diabetes stuff. And of course I am very proud to have been invited to participate at Fitscript’s Women and Diabetes event in New Haven this year.

BP: What advice would you give to those applying for the 2017 LBNN Award?

AS: Go for it! It was like a dream come through. It was one of the best experiences ever, when I got to represent AnnaPS.

Go for it!

Interview Series: Anna Sjӧberg of AnnaPS Scandinavia

One of our favorite brands of diabetes friendly clothing, is AnnaPS. They design clothing from t-shirts, tank tops, and sports bras, to underwear for men, women, and children that have integrated pockets to carry diabetes devices, thus making life a little bit easier for those living with diabetes! Founder and CEO, Anna Sjӧberg, is a T1D and is a part of the Lyfebulb Entrepreneur Circle. I got a chance to chat with her about how she started AnnaPS Scandinavia. Read our interview below!

Bruna Petrillo: Hi Anna! Tell us a little about yourself.

Anna Sjӧberg: Hi Bruna. I am from Sweden, Scandinavia and I have been living with T1D since 1998. I started my insulin pump therapy in 2009 and immediately realized that my insulin pump really disturbed me. I got hooked in the tubing, I dropped it, I needed to use one hand to hold it during a lot of situations, so on. To solve this problem I began designing underwear with integrated pockets for my diabetes devices. Then I began to design tank tops and swimwear for women.

I have two wonderful kids who do a lot of skiing, scouting and soccer, so my husband Per and I are very involved in lot of activities as parents. We live at the coastline in a small town and I really love the nature. I also love to do a lot of sports, and for me it is important to not feel held back by my diabetes.

BP: What drove you to start AnnaPS?

AS: When I designed this underwear with integrated pockets, it really helped me with my pump. The pump became a part of me, and I never had to think about it or get disturbed by it. It was freedom. The pump and the tubing were secured into the pockets and it was easy to put the pump out or back in the pocket when I need it. It was so nice to make it easy to carry, and I started making all kind of clothes, and even bikinis, that were good looking and had pockets in a discrete way. I love to not have to carry any extra diabetes cases or clips.

I think my driving force has always been to make a difference and find solutions. It is me as Engineer.

This feeling became even stronger when I realized I can help others, and make their lives easier. I think those living with diabetes have so many things to think about every day, so it feels great to help others with diabetes. If I can do anything to support life with diabetes and make it a little bit easier, I will do it. When someone says to me, “this was the first night in years I slept all the night thanks to your clothing,” then everything I am working on is worth it. Messages like that make my heart warm.

BP: That’s wonderful Anna! Where did you get the inspiration for your designs?

AS: Of course we are inspired by our nature here in Scandinavia! I love sustainability and to make clothes with a great design and color that always makes the customer feel comfortable. Long-lasting products also means high quality. I also think clothes should give you energy, and this means the fit is adapted to how our bodies are constructed.  To combine this with functionality is our mission.

The pockets are placed to minimize disturbance by the pump. It also has openings from inside and outside of the garments, and makes you feel safe (the pump has to stay in the pocket even when you take the garment off.) Today we have mainly our basic assortment or product offering, but I hope to have opportunities to design more loose fit clothing in the future.

BP: Why should diabetics buy AnnaPS products?

AS: Because the products really solve a big problem for diabetics: how to carry all of the diabetes supplies you always have to bring! And it really minimizes the risk to leave things behind.

When I started to use my own designs with integrated pockets, I really felt how much it helped me to bring all of my diabetes stuff I needed everywhere I went. I put my phone, my blood sugar meter, and my sugar in the pockets (along with the pump). It was really freedom to always have my things close to me.

My mission is to let all diabetics know how much easier their life with diabetes can be when they have the clothing with integrated pockets for their diabetes devices.

We as diabetics need to bring so many things with us wherever we go, that we sometimes risk forgetting something, or have to bring along an extra diabetes bag.

 

BP: What has been the biggest challenge you have faced with AnnaPS?

AS: The biggest challenge is reaching all of the diabetics around the world, and growing the business so that we can exist as a brand and develop more products. We are still a small company run by my husband and I. It has also been a challenge to develop clothing with so much inbuilt functionalities that is environmental friendly and high quality.

BP: What has been your most proud moment or achievement with Anna PS?

AS: I am sure it was when I was nominated to the LyfeBulb-Novo Nordisk Innovation Award! I didn’t win the first prize, but to be a part of this team for three days at the Summit in Copenhagen, and to participate in such inspiring workshops within the field of diabetes made us all feel like winners. It was fantastic! I am really impressed with Lyfebulb for setting up this Innovation Summit and Award together with Novo Nordisk.


You can shop AnnaPS Scandinavia products in the Lyfebulb Market Place!

Follow Anna on Instagram: @annaps_scandinavia

The surprising fabric you’ll want your next workout shirt to be made of

The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you’ll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

QOR

Regular runners and exercise junkies are always looking for better workout clothes to get them through grueling workouts.

Ideally, you want something that will help to regulate your temperature while still protecting your body from the elements, keeping you comfortable, and hopefully keeping odors to a minimum.

QOR is a brand that was founded with the goal of bringing men high-performing workout gear that meets all of those needs and then some. Their shirts, shorts, pants, and the rest of their apparel all strive for this goal, while looking better than most workout clothes you’re probably used to seeing.

One interesting aspect of QOR is the brand’s willingness to create with a variety of materials — QOR has an entire line constructed from Merino wool. While it probably isn’t the first fabric you think of when imagining a line of fitness apparel, the natural fibers of wool are actually great for regulating temperature and providing UV protection; they’re also antimicrobial, so they can help with reducing odor.

The guys on the Insider Picks team got to try a few tops from QOR — the Power Dry Crew and the 17.5 Merino V. You can read our thoughts about them below, and if you’re interested, pick up some QOR gear for yourself here.

Breton Fischetti, senior director, commerce:

I was really interested to try QOR’s product when they sent it in — they’re leaning into wool, a fabric once maligned as uncomfortable and only for winter. However, it’s had a bit of a renaissance lately as people realize it can have several different weights, and that it dries quickly and naturally reduces odor.

One of my chief complains with synthetic workout shirts is that over time they start to smell like a locker room. Anything that can help with that problem is going to…

Move over, yoga pants. How Kit and Ace created clothes for work — and meditation

Morning meditation at the Venice location of the Kit and Ace retail showroom.
Morning meditation at the Venice location of the Kit and Ace retail showroom. (Kit and Ace)

In the time-honored tradition of waxing nostalgic over old photos, it’s safe to say that future generations might look back at pictures from the mid-2010s and ask, “So, were you always on your way to the gym?”

Such is the legacy of athleisure pieces, the just-won’t-quit trend that’s swept the country, particularly casual, athletic Los Angeles, birthplace of the Juicy sweatsuit (which is also in the midst of a comeback of sorts).

But Kit and Ace, the Vancouver-based brand with a few shops in Southern California, is not competing in the race to be the next haute brand you sweat in. So as brands court yoga instructors and runners to evangelize, Kit and Ace is after the next wave: meditators.

What started as a California exclusive — meditation sessions in their airy, light-filled stores, where free sparkling water and friendly salespeople abound — has turned into a nationwide program. Each shop is partnering with mindfulness coaches to run meditation sessions.

“If athleisure is athletic apparel trying to go street, then we’re going for streetwear that performs the exact same way as our activewear,” said JJ Wilson, who co-founded Kit and Ace in 2014 with Shannon Wilson, his stepmother. (JJ Wilson’s father, Chip, founded Lululemon Athletica in 1998.) And to be clear, his definition of street means day and evening looks that appear more like the wearer is on their way to a boutique hotel bar rather than, well, barre class.

“When Lululemon started, there were a few yoga studios on the coasts,” said Wilson. “Now, we’re seeing the seeds of that with meditation, with places like Unplug Studio in Los Angeles and MNDFL Meditation in New York.”

So why not turn stores into grassroots meditation studios?

“Creating an experience in an in-store…

Entrepreneurs find a niche in the growing “athleisure” apparel space

After giving birth to her third child, Devon Mish wanted to shed some extra pounds. She relished the chance to replace some of her old workout clothes, dating to her college days.

“I went out ready to spend and just did not find anything I liked,” Mish said. “Everything was plain black or solid colors — not my style. I like prints. I like bright colors. I wanted fun, energetic clothing to get me excited to get up in the morning and go to the gym.”

The Odenton resident tapped into an emerging trend four years ago when she set out to fill a void for “preppy chic activewear,” launching clothing line Devon Maryn. Plenty of others, she found, wanted activewear that doubled as fashion and were embracing “athleisure” style as well.

Mish’s business joined a cottage industry that has cropped up in the Baltimore area in the shadow of much bigger global competitor Under Armour. They’re hoping to meet growing demand for apparel designed to be worn while exercising — or not.

Athleisure, a category put on the map by yoga pants maker Lululemon, is on the rise at a time when more casual dress codes, greater health awareness and fabric innovations have made it more acceptable and popular to wear athletic wear outside the gym or off the field. The term moved into the mainstream this year with it’s own dictionary definition.

“This is one of those trends that’s driven by lifestyle, as opposed to fashion dictating how people should dress and live,” said Zoey Washington-Sheff, senior style editor for Brit + Co. “The way people live is changing the fashion offerings. That’s how you know something is going to be around quite a long time. The reality is the athletic market is big business, and fashion is doing its best to figure out how to stay relevant.”

More brands and designers are moving into the space, Washington-Sheff said, making athletic apparel more fashion-driven. That evolution is attracting entrepreneurs like Mish, who say they are succeeding by catering to well-defined niches.

For Devon Maryn, that means women who don’t consider themselves hard-core athletes or fitness buffs and who might not relate to the intensity of athletes in Under Armour or Nike ads, Mish said.

“I wanted this to be a nonintimidating brand,” Mish said. “My goal was to appeal to that East Coast and Southern woman who wants to wear makeup and a little jewelry to the gym. I’m here to make you feel like it’s OK if you want to wear a pretty outfit to the gym, and there’s no shame in that. If you’re more motivated to work out, all the better.”

Other area entrepreneurs are spotting similar niches.

While watching her sons play lacrosse, Sheilah Ruppert noticed that girls playing the sport “were living in these compression shorts” on and off the field.

With the help of her sister-in-law, who designs custom swimwear, she began creating shorts, sports bras and headbands. While…

How wearing workout clothes outside the gym became a huge fashion trend

If your leggings became a wardrobe staple this year, replacing your jeans on rest days and not solely seen on trips to the gym, then consider yourself part of one of 2016’s most fashionable trends: athleisure.

So big was the trend that the Merriam-Webster dictionary included ‘athleisure’ as a new word for its 2016 edition, defining it as “casual clothing meant to be worn both for exercising and for general use.”

Despite reports that athleisure may now be peaking, activewear remains a huge market, as research firm NPD noted in October; here we take a look back on the year to see what helped elevate the humble gym kit to one of the biggest trends of 2016.

Celebrity designers

Although adidas and British designer Stella McCartney had a long-term collaboration long before the athleisure trend really took off, this year saw an influx of other brands tapping celebrity names in order to inject some style into their sportswear collections.

Nike tapped both Givenchy designer Riccardo Tisci and Balmain designer Olivier Rousteing, Rihanna showed her Fenty…

Nanowear gets FDA clearance for cardiac-monitoring clothing

New York City-based Nanowear has received FDA clearance for SimpliECG, a “remote cardiac-monitoring undergarment”. This is the first clearance for the company, which has been in talks with the FDA since 2015, according to a press release.

“This is a big milestone for our young company,” Cofounder and CEO Venk Varadan said in a statement. “The FDA’s decision not only positions us for commercial opportunities in remote cardiac monitoring, but more importantly, it provides accreditation of the company’s one-of-a-kind, cloth-based sensor technology as medical-grade. This is the first step and foundation of what we believe to be an extensive array of applications for our nanosensor technology – including numerous other electrical, biometric and biochemical signals that can be measured directly from the skin without conductive gels, adhesives or skin preparation. The market of applications for healthcare alone is a multi-billion-dollar…

Can we dress ourselves fit? How your work out clothes affect your psyche

Can we dress ourselves fit? How your work out clothes affect your psyche
Yoga instructor Dareen Abdullah, wearing Lululemon activewear, at Barsha Pond Park, Dubai. She spends up to Dh4,000 a month on fitness brands, making aesthetics a priority. Reem Mohammed / The National

A gym membership can cost about Dh800 per month but the price of motivation to work out can cost triple that for some fitness fanatics, who feel that if they do not look the part – in the trendiest, branded activewear – they aren’t training right.

What was once a niche market, targeted at serious athletes and serviced by big sports brands such as Nike and Reebok, has evolved into an “athleisure” industry steered by trendy brands such as Lululemon Athletica and Lorna Jane. Athleisure is described as activewear that can also be worn casually.

Exclusive celebrity collaborations, such as Rihanna’s Fenty collection for Puma and Kanye West’s Yeezy line for Adidas, are starting to blur the lines between fashion and fitness for buyers. Even budget and big-box stores such as JCPenney and H&M have developed their own athletic apparel ranges to cater to the growing market.

Research firm NPD Group recorded an increase of 16 per cent in activewear sales last year, compared with a two per cent increase in all apparel sales.

The recent arrival of some of the high-end brands in the UAE has further increased demand for eye-catching gym apparel here. The big question, though, is whether this trend toward athleisure clothing – a sector that US financial company Morgan Stanley projects will be worth US$83billion (Dh304.8 billion) in sales by 2020 – translates into a…

Women’s Best: Austrian-Based Lifestyle Brand Enters Lucrative Athleisure Market

mykonos3

Move over Fabletics, Athleta, Lululemon and VS Sport, because there is a new kid on the growing athleisure block in Women’s Best.

With big brand names such as Under Armour, Nike and up-and-coming brands such as London-based tennis-themed 30Fifteen throwing their collective hats into the growing $184.6 billion dollar sportswear market and the fact that ‘athleisure’ is carrying the bulk of otherwise anemic clothing sales, it appears that the trend of wearing workout clothes outside the gym is here to stay.

(Women's Best Co-CEO's Paul and Lukas Kurzmann)
(Women’s Best Co-CEO’s David and Lukas Kurzmann)

Headquartered in Innsbruck, Austria and co-founded by CEO’s Lukas and David Kurzmann, Women’s Best has gained quite a reputation via social media for their current selection of fitness supplements such as Slim Body Shake, Whey Protein, Burner Caps, Teatox, Multi Vitamin Caps, Detox Caps, Toner and Beauty items such as Beauty Booster, Hair Vitamins and Beauty Bible, and a notable list of Instagram-based models and ambassadors such as Mexican model/weather girl Yanet Garcia, Australian fitness model, Tammy Hembrow, Founder of Luxe Sportswear Pia Muehlenbeck, Instagram teen model/idol Alexis Ren and Australian-based Instagram fitness model Danielle Robertson, Women’s Best is poised to expand its growing brand, with their ultimate goal of entering the American market.

Below are my two Q and A’s with Women’s Best Chief Editor, Iris Pohl and the forementioned Instagram fitness model and brand ambassador Danielle Robertson as we discuss the growth of athleisure, Women’s Best’s plans to expand into the U.S., what separates Women’s Best from other brands and what prompted them to enter the lucrative world of sportswear.

Q and A with Women’s Best Chief Editor, Iris Pohl

R.C. What led to the decision for Women’s Best to get into the booming activewear industry?

I.P. “Besides supplements and sports nutrition products, we wanted to offer an all-in-one-package for active women and their lifestyle. We have over 4 million followers on social media who are interacting with us all the time, giving us feedback twenty-four-seven.

Our customers asked for a fashion line, so we rolled up our sleeves and worked hard to make it real. When you put on the right workout clothes you feel more confident, energetic and you’ll get more motivated to hit the gym. Workout clothes can give you that extra push to make exercise an integral part of your life. And that’s our goal.”

R.C. What do you hope separates Women’s Best from the rest of the crowd?

I.P. “Three Words: Design, Quality & Variety”

R.C. What is the companies plan to expand its brand awareness into the…

Smart Contactless Clothing Monitors Vital Signs

smart-clothing

Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) and ECLAT Textiles announced iSmartweaR, a clothing line designed to monitor vital signs. Its main feature is that it’s contactless, allowing you to move without restrictions as you track your heart rate and breathing rates. The company uses these two data points to then provide you with insight into your physical activity, sleep quality, and emotional state.

Rather than using traditional sticky polymer contact electrodes as in ECG monitors, the iSmartweaR uses low-power RF technology to measure heartbeats and breaths using a single antennae combined with conductive clothing fibres. Specifically, they use nanosecond pulse near-field sensing (NPNS) technology, which is kind of like a radar system, but for electromagnetic…

Athleisure’s Winners and Losers

Cara Delevingne in Puma's 'Do You' women's campaign | Source: Puma
Cara Delevingne in Puma’s ‘Do You’ women’s campaign |
Source: Puma

LONDON, United Kingdom — A decade or so ago, the average retailer’s athletic wear offering was limited to basic t-shirts and trainers — clothing that was practical for exercise, but nothing else.
Today however, fuelled by increasingly casual dress codes and a growing consumer focus on health and wellness, looking like you have an active lifestyle has become cool and athletic wear has become part of the everyday wardrobe.
“This idea of being healthy and sporty and fit has become the new sexy … There’s a desire to look sporty even if you aren’t practising any sport,” says Bernadette Kissane, apparel and footwear analyst at Euromonitor.
This shift has led to the rise of the so-called ‘athleisure’ category — clothing that marries the functionality and aesthetic of activewear with the desirability of catwalk trends. Demand for fashion-inflected yoga leggings and crop tops helped drive the global activewear market to a staggering $265 billion in 2015, up from $196 billion in 2010, according to Euromonitor. And the market shows no signs of slowing down, with global sales predicted to grow at 4.4 percent CAGR through 2020.
For existing sports brands and retailers, this trend presents an obvious opportunity. But, while some, like Nike, Adidas, Foot Locker and JD Sports, have been riding the athleisure wave with great success, many have struggled. This past year has seen Sports Authority, City Sports and Vestis Retail Group, parent company of Eastern Mountain Stores, Bob’s Stores and Sport Chalet, file for bankruptcy in the US, while in the UK Sports Direct reported that pre-tax profits for the year to April 2016 were down 15 percent. So what are the necessary requirements for a successful athleisure strategy?
Established players in the activewear market were well placed to tap the athleisure trend when it first emerged, as they were already familiar to consumers. “The reason why sports brands such as Nike and Adidas have done so well is they already had that brand image, the prestige you’d want to be associated with,” explains Kissane. “The fact that [this trend] is more status driven, and wanting to look cool and sexy, than it is actually being healthy and fit, [means] you then want to be associated with the brands in that area.”
“They have built up brand affinity over the years and consumers are accustomed to buying brands they are familiar with,” agrees Diana Smith, senior research analyst, retail and apparel at Mintel. They also have a proven track record of performance-quality product, which is still a core attribute of activewear, even if a garment is not actually going to be worn for exercise, Smith adds.
Multi-brand activewear retailers were less appealing in the eyes of the athleisure consumer. “What they had sold in the past was really performance wear. You went in, you bought your tennis shoes, your running shoes, your wick-away, and it was generally not very attractive but it functioned,” explains Burke.

Nike and Adidas already had that brand image, the prestige you’d
want to be associated with.


“It’s not the sort of environment and soul of what athleisure is — that balance between fitness and fashion and the trend of wellness,” agrees Wendy Liebmann, chief executive of consultancy WSL Strategic Retail.
Investing in the in-store experience to attract the largely female and fashion-conscious athleisure consumer is...
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