by Len Lear
Drawing, sketching, painting and designing are what Monica Vesci, 39, mastered as she earned her degree in Fine Arts from Chestnut Hill College. But like millions of women around the world, Monica has been shouldering the burdens and responsibilities of Type 1 Diabetes for a long time. Diagnosed at age 17 while living in upper New York state, Monica endured too many setbacks for an active young woman just entering Rochester Institute of Technology.
Thus, college was put on hold for a few years while she learned to manage her health. Later, strengthened by the support of family, physicians and diabetes educators, she went to CHC. “I had a great experience at CHC,” she said. “I grew so much as a fine artist and really felt like I received a well-rounded education there. I loved every minute I got to spend in the art studio with Sr. Margie Thompson. She taught me so much, and I am forever grateful for her artistic guidance. She is an amazing artist and inspired me daily.”
But tired of finding her used blood glucose test strips all over the house, her car, her clothing and her hair and needles in the bottoms of her purses, Monica wanted a more practical, safer and more stylish way to carry daily supplies. Therefore, she developed the Camino Clutch, a hip, stylish clutch with enough room to carry daily diabetes essentials — insulin pens, needles, syringes, test strips, a glucose meter, insulin pump supplies, etc. — plus the usual glam stuff.
Devoid of the standard medical kit and elastic, the clutch can be carried on its own as a chic purse (for running errands, a lunch date or a night out on the town) or thrown into a larger tote, gym or diaper bag. It also includes a hidden, discreet sharps/disposables container.
Monica got the idea for the Camino Clutch in 2012. It took her about two years to develop it. She did a lot of research and had to teach herself about manufacturing and production from the ground up. “It was an exciting but trying time,” she said. “I was trying to figure all of this out while still learning the ins and outs of living in a foreign country.”
Monica, who grew up in Blue Bell, is now living in her studio in Copenhagen, Denmark, where she moved to be with her husband, who is Swedish and Danish. They decided to live in Copenhagen because he was just starting his post-doctoral program and is now an assistant professor at the University of Copenhagen.
The name Camino, by the way, is an anagram of Monica. Also, the Spanish translation of Camino is road/path/journey. “It makes perfect sense in relation to life with diabetes,” said Monica. “It is a constant journey of trying to figure out the right path to take (to best manage everything) in order to be healthy and happy, stylish and confident…
The first prototype of the Camino Clutch was made in Copenhagen by a local seamstress. She did an excellent job of realizing Monica’s sketches, but the price was astronomical. Through the internet, though, the CHC alumna was able to find a U.S. manufacturer who was able to make the bags more economically.
So far the bags have been available exclusively through Monica’s website, www.monicavesci.com. She has marketed them via family and friends, social media and news outlets. Her goal, though, is to get them into retail stores in the U.S. and Europe. They will retail for somewhere between $119 and $149 in the U.S.
Monica started a Kickstarter campaign on June 12 to help fund production. When we contacted her, the project was 11 percent funded, having brought in $5,936. When backers pledge, their credit card is not charged unless the project is funded 100 percent.
“Stylish women love haute couture,” Monica said in an interview last week. “They look adorable in fun sportswear, impressive in stunning suits and surely turn heads in their sexy workout duds. And if you’re coping with Type 1, Type 2 or gestational diabetes, the ‘look’ is even more important for self-image.”
Countless testimonials provided by Monica included these typical comments: “You’re a genius for thinking of these. I’ve been diabetic for 24 years, and I literally just throw my strips at the bottom of my purse!” — Andrea U.
“I just came across your site. I am a mom of three Type 1 (diabetes) beautiful girls, ages 26, 23 and 21. I love, love your clutches for diabetics. And I know they will too! Thanks for designing beautiful items for the fashion-conscious diabetic young woman. I can’t wait to tell them about it!” — Diane H.
“Eventually,” said Monica, “I would also like to design clothing that revolves around life with diabetes. Ever try to wear a swimsuit with an insulin pump? My ultimate dream is to have a pop-up shop in Nordstrom or a collaboration with Tommy Hilfiger.”