Blog Feature: Pretty Sick Supply

Although it’s not even a year old yet, the disabled women behind this online store are making a difference in the lives of people with chronic illness. Kristie Denam and SarahCate Philipson have never been in the same room together, yet between them, they launched and run a store that offers medical supplies that are both fun and functional. Kristie is the more outgoing half of the partnership and deals with things like this interview, while SarahCate does most of the computer work.

Kristie Denam
Kristie

These entrepreneurs met virtually on Tumblr about five years ago through mutual friends. They started following each other, sharing the ups and downs of life with illness. In May 2017 SarahCate was looking for a pill container that could hold all the medications she needs for a day away from home and looked good. She had a hard time finding a balance between big enough and attractive.

SarahCate Philipson
SarahCate

Frustrated by not finding what she wanted, she posted on Tumblr that if she had enough capital she would start her own store to sell attractive medical supplies.

That post, born out of frustration, was the beginning of something great. Kristie wrote SarahCate back saying there was no need for large amounts of capital invested in products–it could all be done online. They hashed things out long distance, starting with a Facebook page that quickly grew into the current site which “opened” July 1, 2017. Since then the site has seen more than 6,000 unique visitors from 59 countries and 20,000+ page hits.

The shop contains, as of this writing, 18 different categories and more than 320 different vendors. The pair welcomes suggestions and recommendations from shoppers and people who do not focus specifically on medical supplies but may have a line or several lines that are a good fit. For example, a leather goods website with an extensive line of different eyepatch styles, sizes, and colors.

So far, marketing is limited to strategically placed Facebook ads and being active on social media. Kristie and SarahCate were active on Tumblr, Instagram, and Facebook disabled communities for years before starting the store. They define their shoppers as friends of people who are chronically ill, caregivers, people who themselves have a chronic illness.  

A big project, with an Indie GoGo campaign to help pay for it, is a professional marketing campaign with rack cards for medical offices and clinics. “We will print a good run of rack cards and ship them–reaching out to as many people in as many places as we can,” Kristie told me.

Rack Card
Rack cards awaiting funding before printing and shipping to medical offices.

The pair has many plans for 2018.

The original plan was to find a way to monetize the site. Six months into it, and many discussions later, the focus changed to being a source of help for the chronic illness community and becoming a registered non-profit organization.

Kristie and SarahCate have plans to add even more resources to the site—not just shops to find beautiful gear and equipment, but also resources for finding prescription assistance, a glossary to help friends and family involved in the community better understand common illness language, like spoons, links to online therapy, and smartphone apps for medication and symptom tracking. The first project is finding and reviewing apps. Kristie tells me that it will “go live” very soon.

Although they have never seen each other person, that will change later this year when Kristie pulls up stakes and moves from North Carolina to Texas where she will move in with SarahCate. “It’s something that will help both of us,” Kristie said.