I’ve known the creator of Myabetic, Kyrra Richards, for a long time, and seeing the successful business she’s worked tirelessly to create makes me beyond happy for her. I’m also really proud to be the source code for one of her namesake bags. She’s awesome.

As things draw to a close here, I’m really honored to feature an interview with Kyrra today, as well as a last giveaway from Myabetic on SixUntilMe.

Kerri: We’ve known one another since before all our kids were born, but could you take a few minutes to introduce yourself to readers who might not know you?

Kyrra: The diabetes community knows me as the founder of lifestyle brand Myabetic, but you could also call me a California girl who loves blasting pop songs in my car, working on my laptop while half-watching HGTV in the background, watching/singing anything Disney, wearing flip-flops, admiring the ocean, and playing with/drooling over my two baby girls. And oh yeah, I’m diabetic.

Kerri: What was your diabetes diagnosis like?

Kyrra: Probably like most people – awful. I was 24 and working as a professional dancer, choreographer, and model in Los Angeles. My diabetes diagnosis was the first time I had ever really been sick. It was a shock and spun me into a depression. I knew nothing about diabetes and felt very alone.

Kerri: How did your experiences with diabetes lead to the creation of Myabetic?

Kyrra: Despite the physical challenges that come with diabetes, I suffered much more emotionally. I didn’t know anyone else with diabetes and couldn’t relate to the diabetes imagery I was being fed by the media – either scary, negative portrayals or cheesy medical ads with people frolicking through flower fields. I knew there was something missing in the marketplace. I mostly created Myabetic to shift my own perspective. I wanted there to be something happy and beautiful for people living with diabetes. With premium products, fresh events, and imagery/video with a bold and authentic voice, we can associate our diabetes with something positive.

Kerri: Do you have a favorite Myabetic bag? Or do you have a few favorites for different life moments?

Kyrra: The newest instantly becomes my favorite. I love continually creating new products that serve different needs. There is a Myabetic diabetes bag, wallet, or case for any occasion. Over the past year, we’ve expanded to new product categories – greeting cards, notebooks, stickers, logbooks, bracelets, t-shirts, and patches designed for the diabetes community. Much more to come!

Kerri: What’s next for the company?

Kyrra: New types of products, new exciting events, new media content – all to provide more opportunities to connect people with diabetes. Follow @myabetic for updates; we can’t wait to share with everyone. I guarantee you – you’ve never seen the things we have in the pipeline in the diabetes space before.

Kerri: And getting a little more personal – congratulations on the births of your two kids! Has pregnancy with- and now motherhood with diabetes shaped the way you approach parenting?

Kyrra: Thank you! Diabetes has certainly been a great ‘rehearsal’ for the parenting mindset. It has taught me to go with the flow. Before I was diagnosed, I was much more rigid about plans. With diabetes, I’ve learned plans laugh in my face. For the most part, I’ve been able to stay calm and flexible when dealing with the daily challenges of having two young daughters. I’ll admit that I’ve forgotten to bolus quite a few times when things get hectic, but I’m working to find the management routines that work for me.

Kerri: What advice or real-talk would you have for a woman with diabetes who is thinking about babies?

Kyrra: Truth? It’s not easy. The emotional stress of pregnancy was a lot to bear. Here are a few tidbits I can share:

I used a pump with my first pregnancy, insulin pens with my second. There’s no “right way.” But I will mention that, as my tummy got bigger, it got harder to reach certain areas for injections. I ended up with a tiny lump of scar tissue under my belly since I didn’t rotate my sites well by the end of the pregnancy. I didn’t notice it until after the birth since the bump had blocked my view.

I did not have a C-section.

I went back and forth between a CGM and finger-sticks/glucose meter during my second pregnancy. I only used a Dexcom for my first, but the sensors often fell off. When I used alternative adhesives, I had bad skin reactions and ended up with marks on my skin that lasted months after the baby was born. I hated it. So this past pregnancy, I went back and forth to give my skin a break.

Nausea made it challenging to accurately predict my insulin ratios. I’d have a big appetite and need to quit mid-meal because the food was making me queasy. Then I’d go low and, unfortunately, my favorite low fix (apple juice) also made me nauseas. I’d have to change up my sugar choices. Sour candy worked well.

Because a pregnancy with diabetes is considered “high-risk,” I had more doctor’s appointments, testing, and ultrasounds than my friends without diabetes. I actually loved it. It may have been time-consuming (the hospital staff knew me by name since I was such a “regular”), but I enjoyed the constant opportunities to connect with my growing baby. The nonstress tests that allowed me to hear her heartbeat were my favorites!

My blood sugar was not as tight as I would have liked – I had bad lows mixed with numbers over 300mg/dL all throughout the pregnancies. I tried my best, but it was a constant struggle to determine the correct ratios. They seemed to change daily.

I realize every pregnancy is different. I know I’m incredibly lucky and don’t take it for granted. They were difficult periods filled with tears and self-judgment. But despite all the challenges, it was undoubtedly worth it.

Kerri: How about advice for a PWD who might be starting their own business?

Kyrra: Sigh … don’t. Haha no, I’m kidding. But entrepreneurship is not for the weak. So, perhaps, people with diabetes can be the best entrepreneurs since we’ve been forced to endure unexpected obstacles.

People often tell me, “I had that same idea! I was going to make nicer-looking diabetes bags.” Well, that’s great, but an idea doesn’t get you very far. Starting and growing Myabetic has been an adventure filled with many tears, “I want to give up” moments, and doubt. Trying to create something that hasn’t been done before is hard! Industry professionals have said, “This isn’t going to work. Everyone is just fine with their little black meter cases. No one will buy this.” But I kept going because I believed we (people living with diabetes) deserved more – more options, more vision, and more respect.

It’s incredibly rewarding to have grown our Myabetic community to the force it is today – our “tribe of trendsetters” in the diabetes space. I get emotional when I see our customers all over the world proudly declaring they live with diabetes. Together, we’re changing the image of diabetes, and I’m so proud.

Kerri: Anything else you’d like to share??

Kyrra: Yes, and you are not allowed to take this out, Kerri: Six Until Me was my first real “friend” in diabetes. Your words have been a bright light in the darkness of this disease. As this chapter of SUM comes to an end, I need to say thank you from all of us. Thanks for opening your heart and being the dia-buddy we all desperately needed.

Thank you, Kyrra, for your really kind words and also for knowing me well enough to ban me from editing out that last bit. I’m really grateful for your friendship and the community is lucky to have you and your style on our side.

And thanks to the generosity of the Myabetic team, we’re able to offer one last Myabetic giveaway here on SixUntilMe. The timeframe is tight, though. You’ll need to leave a comment on this post sometime before Wednesday, May 1st at midnight eastern time. TWO winners will be selected and they can choose whatever product they’d like.

Thank you again, Kyrra and tbe whole Myabetic team!