1 March 2019

Where fashion meets diabetes

When I was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 35, my world was turned upside down. I had suffered from gestational diabetes during my pregnancy. I knew the impact that diabetes would have on my life. Except now it was permanent.

I decided straight away that I wanted to be very open about my diabetes. I injected myself in public with my insulin pen which I used in the beginning, rather than hiding away. When you get your glucose meter, the supplier gives you a really ugly black plastic bag to carry your things around in. The thing is, you have your stuff with you all the time. I took that ugly bag with me from one meeting to the next at work. I even laid it on the table at fancy restaurants and trendy wine bars. Looks and fashion are not the most important things in the world. However, for me, they make everything just that little bit nicer and more attractive.

I like to dress according to the latest trends. I wear a lot of colour and fashionable prints, and love beautiful materials. It’s not often that buy a new bag. Every now and then, I treat myself to a designer bag that I really like. I go for classics such as the Marcie by Chloé, which I use for years and treat with great care. Over the years I have collected a number of beautiful bags. I switch between them during the week depending on my mood and outfit.

Creating my own

For my diabetes supplies bag, I wanted something similar. To have a beautiful bag made of real leather I could take with me every day, to all my appointments. Soon after receiving my diagnosis, I started looking for an attractive leather diabetes bag. I couldn’t find one anywhere. Thus I decided to design a bag myself that was both high-quality and trendy, but also functional.

My knowledge of the disease and my love of fashion were brought together in my own brand of diabetes bags. Beautiful and fashionable diabetes bags made of real leather and that I wanted to carry myself. I now have a great collection of bags that I alternate between. An additional advantage is that I now have an online store. That allows me to make other women and men happy with a luxury bag. That’s a real blessing. The funny thing is that many of my colleagues – who don’t have diabetes – are also enthusiastic about my bags. They often think it’s a wallet and ask me what brand it is.

Where to put the pump?

My love of fashion is naturally reflected in clothing as well as bags. With my penchant for close-fitting clothing, to switch from the injection pen to the Omnipod insulin pump was a real challenge. The pod might be small, but it is still really visible under a tight dress. For my health it was the right decision, so I bravely adapted my choice of clothing to disguise the pod as much as possible. Things changed switching to Kaleido. Not only is the pump that little bit smaller, but the combination with the little tube also makes it very easy to use. When I wear tight clothing, I can opt to attach a longer tube to the infusion set. This allows me to wear the pump invisibly. That not only looks nicer, but the combination with the tubing also makes it more comfortable to wear because you no longer have a large pump squashed under the top of your jeans.

For me, comfort is very important. It is also important to me that my choice of clothing is no longer limited by my insulin pump, because I can now wear it invisibly. I am not ashamed of my diabetes, but I don’t think it has to be constantly on show. I always carry my Kaleido handset and my glucose meter around with me in one of my own beautiful leather bags… naturally one that goes with the colours and style of my outfit! If you always have to carry your diabetes supplies around with you, then why not carry them in a bag that looks nice and makes you feel good! 

About Marjolein

I’m Marjolein Snelder, 43 years old, and married to Ton. We have two beautiful children. I am self-employed, and have a demanding role as an interim HR manager. Fashion and sports are things I love, and I have Type 1 Diabetes (LADA, Latent Autoimmune Diabetes of the Adult). I have brought fashion and Type 1 Diabetes together in my own online store selling luxury bags for diabetes supplies.