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How one startup is using fashion to help hospital patients and the disabled

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How one startup is using fashion to help hospital patients and the disabled

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That was the idea when Susan Jones and Chaitenya Razdan co-founded their startup, Care+Wear, about two years ago. 

Inspired by families battling cancer

After seeing friends and family affected by cancer, they wanted to design clothing that would significantly improve the lifestyle of patients and people with physical disabilities. 

Jones left her job at kensie, a women's clothing brand, to start Care+Wear with Razdan, who left his job at Goldman Sachs as an investment banker to join the startup world.


Tube socks on their arms

"[Patients] were literally told to wear tube socks on their arm to cover PICC lines," Razdan said.


PICC lines are thin intravenous tubes many cancer patients wear on their arm for up to six months to deliver nutrition or medicine.

When Razdan and Jones saw patients wearing socks on their arms, they thought there had to be something better. 

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So the first product they designed, after much consultation with patients, doctors and nurses, was the PICC line cover -- a sleek alternative to the tube sock, made with antimicrobial material and a patented mesh window.

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Some patients have ports on their chest (also known as port-a-cath), which is another way to receive medication or nutrition through tubes. So they designed shirts that allow easy access to the device.

A $40 billion market

Razdan estimates this "healthwear" industry to be worth over $40 billion. 

Roughly 1.6 million Americans are diagnosed with cancer each year, and a lot of them need to wear PICC lines or a port. 

PICC lines are not limited to treating cancer -- Razdan estimates that more than six million patients for other illnesses have PICC lines installed each year.  


"Our goal was to make it something that people would want to wear," Jones said.

"Everything's always been focused on function, never on how it looks or how it makes you feel," Razdan said. "We really felt there was an incredible opportunity to build a brand focused on kind of enabling you to be yourself." 


Care+Wear has already built significant partnerships, including the prestigious Parsons School of Design, to grant scholarships to students who want to focus on design in the healthcare space. Another partnership grants 10% of sales to the American Cancer Society and other nonprofits.


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It has also partnered with Major League Baseball to adorn the PICC line covers with team logos.

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