Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Talking With Tip4Type1's Tonya Homme

Originally, I was going to publish the interview with Tonya Homme, founder of Tips4Type 1 when I returned home from my Canadian vacation. But then my mom went in the hospital the day after we came home, and we all know what happened. I'm publishing it now for all types of reasons, but primarily because I think that while November is Diabetes Awareness Month & World Diabetes Day is November 14th, painting your nails for diabetes awareness AND funding for a diabetes cure is something we can do 365 days a year~
FYI: I'm think Tips4Type1 would make excellent stocking stuffers & Hanukkah gifts :)

Tips4Type1 Blue & Silver Nail Polish

1. Tell me the reason why you started tips4type1 - And feel free to go into as much detail as you'd like, Tonya! I want my readers to get real sense of who you are!!!

I'm Tonya Homme (rhymes with Mommy) and I am the proud mommy of Charlotte, our smart and funny little artist who will turn 5 this October 31st (yep, our little Halloweener - kind of ironic for a kid with Type 1 to be born on the biggest candyfest of them all, huh? ;) My husband Todd and I feel so lucky and so blessed to have her in our lives. We live in Woodland Hills, CA (Los Angeles) with our 2 cats, Breezy and Oscar, and our beagle named Kevin.

Charlotte was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes on October 6, 2008, when she was just 23-months-old. Like all parents of a newly-diagnosed child, we were in complete shock and stumbled though life in a daze for quite some time afterwards. Her diagnosis was an instant life changer for all of us. Before her diagnosis, I had been teaching high school Spanish (¡Sí, hablo español!), and although I loved my job, I quit that day to assume my new role as Charlotte's full-time substitute pancreas.

Ever since the day Charlotte was diagnosed, my thoughts have been consumed by Type 1 diabetes.

At first, I studied like crazy to learn everything I needed to know to keep her alive and healthy.

Then, I began to spend hours online, researching anything and everything I could find out about the disease and any research being done.

Then, I became consumed with figuring out what I could do – to help fund research, and to help find a CURE for our daughter and our many friends who live and struggle with Type 1 diabetes, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The idea for my Tips4Type1 nail polish fundraiser came to me last October when I saw an ad in a magazine for some pink nail polish.

At the bottom of the ad, it said, “A portion of this sale will be donated to support such-and-such research.” And I thought, "Why can’t someone do the same thing to raise money for diabetes research??"

I contacted a few nail polish companies, and they asked if I represented a diabetes foundation or corporation. I replied, "No, but I represent a child with Type 1 diabetes!" I was very politely informed that their companies do not deal with 'individuals' such as myself. But, as the parent of a child with Type 1, I know that there aren't many 'individuals' more determined to help find a CURE than we are! So, I decided that the ‘someone’ who needed to do something with this idea was ME !!

And I got to work... First, I chose the name: Tips (as in fingertips) 4 (for) Type 1 (as in Type 1 diabetes) = Tips4Type1! I loved the 'word-number-word-number' thing. (What can I say? I'm a bit of a nerd. ;)

I decided to make the polish in the 2 colors most-associated with Diabetes Awareness: SILVER, the color of the diabetes awareness ribbon, and BLUE, the color of the diabetes awareness circle, as well as the predominant color of many diabetes-related logos and events. I named the colors ‘TIPS OF STEEL’ - in honor of those precious Type 1 fingertips that are so strong and deserve all the TLC they can get after all the pokes they endure, and ‘TRUE BLUE HOPE’ - because I truly have HOPE that a CURE will be found. I'm donating $10 of each sale to the Diabetes Research Institute.

WHY I started Tips4Type1?

It's my hope that this project will not only raise money for diabetes research, but also that by wearing these colors, we can start conversations that will help educate others and raise some much-needed awareness.

Before Charlotte’s diagnosis, I'll be the first to admit that I didn’t know much about Type 1 diabetes either. We have a very good friend whose 9-yr-old son was diagnosed a few years before Charlotte, and I am positive that at some point, I asked our friend the question that now makes me cringe inside; "Will he ever outgrow it?" As difficult as it is sometimes, when I am asked this and the other 'typical' questions, I try to remind myself that I was once one of those who didn't "get it" - until Charlotte "got it."

I'm a teacher at heart and I'm always in 'educate others' mode, in addition to being able to purchase the polish on my web site, www.Tips4Type1.com, I have also included a ‘Myths/Truths’ page and a ‘Symptoms’ page. I am proud of the 'Myths/Truths' page & tried very hard to come up with the most concise, easy-to-understand list to explain what Type 1 diabetes IS and also what it is NOT. I included a 'Symptoms' page because the first question most people usually ask is, "How did you know?"

2. How long did it take to go from inception stage to manufacturing/ production & Sales stage?

About 5 months. Once I discovered that big nail polish companies weren't interested in working with me, I started doing some research online. I found and contacted a few companies that manufacture custom label nail polish and asked if they would send me some samples. A friend of mine who is a graphic artist designed the logo for the bottles, and once that was finished, I took a leap of faith and placed my first order!

While I waited for my first shipment of nail polish to arrive, I created my web site; ordered my shipping supplies, applied for a small business permit and filled out all of the necessary forms and paperwork. When I had all my ducks in a row, I made my big announcement on facebook, twitter, and I contacted diabetes bloggers such as yourself. I was so over-the-moon excited when you responded and asked if you could interview me about my project! THANK YOU!! It is so nice of you and I cannot tell you how much I appreciate it. :)

3. Who manufactures the nail polish?

Tips4Type1 polish is made by Innovative Color Labs, a custom nail polish manufacturer located in New York.

4. How's the response been so far?

I'm thrilled with the response so far and hope my sales will continue to grow. News of the project seems to be spreading through word-of-mouth, and it makes me so happy. I would like nothing more than to hand over a big, whopping check for research to the DRI every year.

I was contacted by a Diabetes Advocacy group from Canada, and have let them know that I would be happy to send them all the information needed to start a 'Tips4Type1-Canada' project, if they're interested. I'd love to see that happen! The project is also being promoted from within the DRI, for which I am so thankful. There is a possibility that my project might be featured in the "Gift Giving Guide" of a major diabetes magazine before the holidays. That would be so awesome!

I am also hopeful that I will have a lot of sales as people prepare for National Diabetes Awareness Month in November and World Diabetes Day on November 14th. Even before I started this project, I have always had my toenails painted blue throughout the month of November. (Now, I have them year-round! ;) One of my facebook friends commented that it would be great if fans of sports teams whose colors are blue and silver (Dallas Cowboys) would buy my polish, too. Isn't that a great idea?! How cool would it be if the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders and all their fans wore colors to support their team, but also promote our cause and help our loved ones at the same time?? It would be absolutely fantastic! Ideas like that get me so excited.

I have been so touched by the support of others; sharing my page on facebook, forwarding my web site to their friends, retweets on twitter (I'm @T1Mommy), being allowed to write a guest post about my project on the Diabetes Daily web site (thank you David Edelman!), as well as being shared by wonderful bloggers such as yourself. I am beside myself with gratitude. :)

5. Do you see your t4t1 line expanding?

Just last week, Tom Karlya, VP of the DRI, and I were brainstorming this idea. He said, "Wouldn't it be great if you could expand this idea into Tips4Type1 sales force, (á la Mary Kay or Avon) with people selling it all over the place?" I think it's an AMAZING idea, and I would love to see something like that happen someday. If anyone is interested, please let me know. :)

6. Any chance we'll see t4t1 in stores?? Seriously, I would LOVE to see Tip4Type1 sold in stores!

I want to sell tons of it to spread awareness, to raise money for research that would help lead to a CURE for everyone. That's my dream, and I'll never stop dreaming until the CURE is found. Until then, I plan to do everything I can, in my own little way, to get us there.

1 comment:

Tonya said...

If you read Diabetic Living magazine, you will see our Tips4Type1 project featured on pages 10-11 of their current Winter 2011 edition. :)
Thank you so much for featuring our project, Kelly. We can't tell you how much we appreciate it. :)