In 2010, Bridget Scanlan's life changed. At 20 years old, she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
Scanlan joined the more than 30,000 New Zealanders who have Type 1 diabetes. For them, and a proportion of the more than 200,000 Type 2 diabetics, daily life includes multiple finger prick tests to check blood sugar levels and injections of insulin 3+ times a day. As well as needing constant checking and awareness, the condition requires carrying a multitude of equipment at all times, including: blood test monitor, finger pricker, test strips and insulin pens, and emergency supplies for people who use insulin pumps.
"I was blindsided. I’d never encountered anyone with diabetes before, and had little appreciation for what life with diabetes meant. It was a rushed and fairly nasty learning curve,” she says.
It was following her diagnosis, and navigating her 'new normal', that Scanlan began to research ways she could empower diabetics like herself to help make adjusting to life with diabetes easier. Having completed qualifications in both business and fashion, Scanlan focused on developing a business which would address the problem of organising and stashing equipment.
“After I was diagnosed, all of a sudden I had a new set of accessories that had to somehow fit into my life – and handbag. I looked for something that would keep me feeling well organised and put together, but nothing fit the bill.”
As a result, K Y T was born - a range of stylish and functional bags made from leather. Scanlan hopes that K Y T (Keeping You Together) bags will not only help people keep their physical equipment together, but will help them feel emotionally collected as well.
K Y T preorders are available from May 21, for a July delivery, and will retail for $345. Scanlan has collaborated with Duffle & Co (who make ethically-handcrafted bags, backpacks, duffles, pouches, satchels, sleeves and more) to bring the bags in to production.
"I was looking for a production partner and knew I had limited options in New Zealand, but production ethics and transparency are very important to me. You can imagine how delighted I am to work with a company that values those too, as well as maintains such a high standard of quality," Scanlan says.
She adds K Y T are currently preparing to launch the KYT Crossbody: a bag style that proved most popular with the type one diabetics Scanlan talked to during her research. "I’ve refined the bag in line with their feedback and added tweaks based on what I heard others ‘wish’ that their current bag would do."
KYT Crossbody has two pouches that pull apart, so that life and diabetes can be organised separately. The diabetes half opens completely, with spaces for insulin and blood testing equipment, as well as a trash pouch for sharps or empties and a slot for medical ID. It’s crafted in black leather with a suede-like lining and brass hardware.
Scanlan is also currently working on a charity partnership, so that a portion of each bag sale redirected to a diabetes cause.
"Most crucially, I keep being fuelled by the support I’ve received from the diabetes community so far. In fact, a message I got over Facebook just the other day says it best: “To many people they are just bags but to families/people with diabetes such a little thing can be life changing”."
For more visit kytbags.com