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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

Mother of Three: Two Kids, and Type 1 Diabetes

Hi! My name is Charlotte, I live in Belgium, am happily married, and am a mother to two beautiful kids.

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 15. It has been more than 22 years that I have been living with this chronic disease. The first 15 years I helped myself with injections and blood sugar fingerpicks. After that, I finally felt ready for a new chapter in my life : “being a type 1 mother”.

The doctors told me becoming a mother was possible with type 1 diabetes, as long as my blood sugar levels are around 6% (A1c). I was further recommended to change from my usual insulin injections with a pen to an insulin pump.

I was ready for motherhood, but not for the insulin pump.

A device that would make my disease much more visible, compared to a pen which I could hide from everyone. How would I ever go to the beach in my bikini with an insulin pump? Yet another hurdle which took me some time to overcome. But becoming a mother was stronger than my fear of an insulin pump, so I gave it a try.

Three months later I felt myself on top of the world, reaching my a HA1c of 6.2 and becoming pregnant. When I look back at my pregnancy, keeping my blood sugar levels at that level took a lot of energy and generated a lot of stress. However at that time I was living on a pink cloud, as I was really looking forward to that precious moment having my baby in my arms.

This moment of glory and happiness arrived two times to me. First there was my beautiful son named Louis. Three years later I got my wonderful daughter, Célestine, who made me proud for the second time in motherhood. Both are happy and healthy.

Last year, three years after the birth of my daughter, I was feeling down, very tired and had a lot of pain in my belly and intestines. I was suffering from a lot of fatigue and my blood sugar levels were catastrophic.

Four to five hypoglycemia a day were a daily routine. I felt myself so tired and my body needed to rest and to reduce my stress levels significantly.

After consulting my doctor, we decided to take a step back from my hectic day to day life of being a mother of two lovely kids and supporting my husband with his career (thus requiring  frequent traveling and a 13 year carrier in an American multinational, where the stress levels were a daily part of my job).

Due to my doctor’s assessment, a Leaky Gut Syndrome, malabsorption, and my autoimmune disease, I was forced to change my lifestyle (a diet with gluten-, lactose- and egg- intolerances).

By changing my habits and diet, I reached 2 goals: first to become more energetic and pain free, and secondly to stabilize my blood sugars. From that moment, I felt myself more comfortable to embrace my diabetes!

And for now, I am the mother of three: Louis, Célestine and my Type 1 diabetes.

My ambition in the future is to coach and help other diabetes patients in the future in Belgium. I want to do this by showing people that by changing a few lifestyle habits we can get a lot more in this life!

Here in Belgium, diabetics are so afraid to talk and to show the environment about this topic, and I really want to change this. A few months ago , I started an Instagram account to inspire others and motivate others with this disease…. “Charlotte Celebrates life with diabetes type 1 “

Feel free to follow me on Instagram @charlottecelebrates

The purpose is to help myself and others to Celebrate life, by motivating and chowing some color in this sometimes colorless world of diabetes.

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