T1D Designer Making Waves with "KYT" Bags
When New Zealand native, Bridget Scanlan was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 8 years ago, she could have never predicted how her life would change - in more ways than one!
As I'm sure it does for everyone, my diagnosis came as a total shock. Aside from coming to terms with diabetes itself, I found it quite isolating for many years. My early 20s were supposed to be a spontaneous, carefree time for me to enjoy study and my friends. But I had all of these new responsibilities, and I felt too tired and overwhelmed to keep up with friends and university in the same way. I was too old to join diabetes youth groups, so I didn't meet anyone else with diabetes for a long time. For a while it felt like I had fallen through cracks between my old life and new reality."
As she adjusted to a the new daily challenges of life with T1D, Bridget's passion for fashion began to show through in her T1D management. "
I wanted a fashionable and discreet way to carry my new diabetes equipment around - the nylon case I got at the hospital was not
cutting it for a fashion-conscious 20 year old! I looked for bags that would work with my style and new equipment, but nothing existed back then. I wished that one of the fashion brands I idolized would take a sudden interest in diabetes and start making accessories with a distinctive fashion look, targeted at our everyday needs.
Bridget went on to attend fashion school, where she learned how to manufacture clothing and accessories. From there, she began altering the nylon case that came with her blood glucose meter, changing the look, accessibility, and organization to better fit her needs. "My goal was to take cues from contemporary bag styles and make them more user-friendly for people with diabetes. I started with the interior: finding the best ways to arrange equipment so that it took up less space, and could be easily accessed. I then worked out ways to fit the interior within a fashionable bag shape."
Bridget took feedback from the diabetes community on her work, made prototypes, altered, and re-altered. The final product, now known as the "
", became the first product of
or "Keeping You Together". In Bridget's local New Zealand community, there aren't many options or accessories for people living with T1D and Scanlan anticipated local excitement, but soon enough,
was being shipped to T1Ds all over the world.
"We've actually had non-diabetics buy the bag because they like it so much, which really affirms what we first set out to create: a bag that proves functionality can still be fashionable."
While Scanlan has enjoyed the creative journey in designing and producing
bags, she has also found herself becoming immersed in the diabetes community, finding a support system and inspiration for her future designs.
"The support, well wishes and advice that radiates within this community is empowering and up lifting. It's given me the confidence to own my diabetes with pride."
KYT is working on producing more bag styles in the coming months, including a men's bags, vegan-friendly options, a variety of price points, and bags that accommodate the needs of other chronic conditions.
is handcrafted by leather artisans in a family-run, ethically-waged workroom in Bali. A portion of every bag sale goes to Beyond Type 1. So when
's hanging by your side, you'll know it's made a difference for others, too.
A final note from Bridget:
"We really, really care about this community. In fact, we'd love to hear from you. Our goal is to keep collaborating with the T1d community on design, so any feedback or suggestion is welcome. Please get in touch - I would love to hear your story!"