Sunday, April 08, 2007

Interview: Ann Peyrat and 'Betes Babe

This weekend's interview is with Ann Peyrat. Ann has had diabetes for more than 18 years, and recently started a business, 'Betes Babe (TM), that sells accessories and clothing for people with diabetes. It's called 'Betes Babe (pronounced: bee'-tees-babe) and she focuses on creating cute, colorful products that are not only useful, but also help raise self-esteem and provide awareness, education, outreach and philanthropy for this specialized population.

How does diabetes affect your work life?

The World Health Organization estimates that 180 million people have diabetes; it's a growing epidemic. When I look back at the response I received from articles I've written concerning my own story with diabetes, I see how it's connected me to my local community and to people nationwide. It's those people I keep in mind when my own health gets me down. I think of the friends, the families, the diagnosed and the undiagnosed. I remember when I discovered that I had the disease, my grandmother consoled me with her faith, saying, in effect, "God wouldn't give this to you if He didn't think you could handle it." And even when there are so many times when I think I can't handle it, I know that there's something I can do for the greater good, and this is it.

I'm no scientist (I'm not fooling myself that I'll find the cure) but I do know how to accessorize! So I'm taking the cold, hard medical aspect out of "die-a-betes," and am infusing it with the friendly, flirty attitude of "'betes" accessories. I'm talking tiny hot pink purses (that organize your blood glucose meter, test strips and lancet device, while still having room for money, lipstick and ID), lancet devices (sparkly casing, with a rhinestone jewel as the release button---imagine how less scary this would be to kids taking fingersticks as daily routine) and clothing(strategically planned for insulin pump wearers and T-shirts with catchy slogans).

If I didn't have diabetes, my life wouldn't have gone in the direction it has. Living with the disease inspires my work, and my work is how I can make sense of why I have diabetes: I have it so I can help others.

What do you find to be the biggest challenge about starting your own business?

Two things immediately come to mind: self-distraction and feeling overwhelmed.

I've got the drive, I've got the passion, I've got the good intentions ... but I've also got a keen talent for self-distraction! As the proprietor of a home-based business, I've sometimes found the lure of daytime television (GMA, The View, Ellen, Oprah), the refrigerator, gardening, reading, playing with the dogs---you name it---too strong to pass up.

In thinking about all the ways in which I would like to reach these goals, I found I could easily become overwhelmed. So, I've tried to follow the sentiments of Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird, to break tasks down to small, manageable sizes.

What experience have you taken from previous jobs to apply to your new business?

I've worked in print media, retail, and have held positions where interaction with the public is key. One motto I've taken from a former employer is: The customer may not always be right, but the customer is always the customer. Meaning, as a business, my job is not just to provide customer service, but it's to try and achieve the ultimate in customer satisfaction.

Although it may not be considered a job, per se, one thing I've been working on my entire life is my reputation. And I'd like to see my business life flourish with an impeccable reputation for quality and caring. When you think of a conscientious company for cool diabetes accessories, I want you to think: trustworthy, honest, fair, ethical; I want you to think: fun, hip, contemporary, stylish; I want you to
think: 'Betes Babe!

To learn more about 'Betes Babes, visit Ann's web site, 'Betes Babe. All images are copyright Ann Peyrat of 'Betes Babe. If you have diabetes, please bookmark her site to follow her business development. And if you know one of the 180 million people with diabetes, please consider emailing this post.