A note from Ria Sharon of Checkmytag.com, and note from me on what it’s like to be an allergymompreneur

May 9, 2007 at 5:58 pm (Allergy News!, Blog & Websites, Blogroll, Canada, Contributors to the Podcast, education, gear, kids, labeling, newspapers, peanut, Products, social issues, USA, Websites)

Most of our friends and family are amazingly thoughtful and ask, “Is this safe?” before they give our little guy anything to eat. A few just give me the box so I can check the label. But almost all will admit their discomfort with making the call themselves, partly because they are not sure what to look for when they are reading packaged food labels.

Next week is Food Allergy Week so we are making extra efforts to promote food safety for our food-allergic friends and loved ones. The Spring issue of our bulletin, Be Aware. Be Safe. is devoted to taking the mystery out of the new labeling laws. Please help us raise awareness and understanding of food allergies, by passing this .pdf along to your friends, co-workers, educators, and childcare providers.

Also, visit our Community page, http://www.checkmytag.com/community.html beginning May 20th to read personal accounts from the blogosphere on how food allergies have changed the daily lives of a growing number of families.

Thanks for helping to keep kids safe,

Ria

Ria is a very warm and helpful individual.  Please check out her site!  It is not just about “selling shirts” for her.

Someone recently accused me of only doing this blog to direct people to my allergyware.com site.  She didn’t say it accusingly, but rather matter-of-fact.  As if.  :(  Why do I make the shirts?  Why did I do it in the first place?  Because allergies are a “growth industry?”  Because I was looking to make a quick buck?  C’mon.  My kid could DIE if he eats a peanut.  There were no shirts at all out there for sale except from England, when he tested positive for peanut.  What would YOU do?

Honestly, it is issues like the above that I am using this hiatus to think over.  I don’t want anyone to think that it is my desire or motivation to profit from my son’s life-threatening allergy.  The fact is, I’m not a millionaire who can set up a fund to research the cure.  I do not have the time to volunteer a lot and do a lot of political stuff, plus I do not have the temperament for it.

What I am is a writer with a degree in accounting.  I am a business person by training and a story-teller by birth.

I write this blog and I sell tee-shirts because I buy the tees myself.  My kid also wears shirts by other allergymompreneurs.  He took his first field trip today with his medicine in a bag from allergykids.com (thanks, Robyn).

If you are so cynical that you think for the past five years I have enjoyed some kind of status as Allergy Tee Shirt Emperor, then you are forgetting the heartbreak and daily stress and agony that go along with safe-guarding a child who is too young to speak for himself.

Pushing six years old, he is finally getting closer to being able to speak up for himself to people about his allergy.  He still can’t read, give himself his epinephrine shot, or measure out his own Benadryl.  He is dependent on any adult in his vicinity to notice if he develops hives, has trouble breathing, his eyes swell up, etc.

So I made him shirts.  When he was recently fed a nut-containing brownie at school, I sent him to school the next day in an allergy shirt, in addition to talking to his teachers about what happened.  You know what?  Call me materialistic & opportunistic and any other “istic” that you want, but I FELT BETTER knowing his shirt said this in big letters:

cutelittlesamallergyshirt.jpg

(this was him four years ago, nearly exactly!)

This is him today, in a Nut Free Zone hoodie:

sam042607.jpg

I love this child.  He is not a model, a product spokesman, a clotheshorse, or a mannequin to hang shirts on.

HE IS MY CHILD.

If you think I’m doing this blog and doing my shirts for the money, or you wonder why I don’t do more: I am doing what I can, where I can, with what I can.

I love my children, all three of them, and I am doing my best.  This blog is filled with photos, links, articles, podcasts, recalls, news, you name it.  I am doing my best.  I doubt I will ever give up the blog, but for now I am not in the frame of mind to do videos or audio podcasts.  I probably will again.  I do not feel like I am “done,” you know?  But my time is sort of maxed out right now.

Now head on over to Ria’s site, or any of the awesome Allergy Mom (and Dad) sites listed in this blogroll.

Sorry for the tangent, but I think it deserves to be said: Allergy Moms who started Allergy businesses have their hearts in the right place. They should be commended, not distrusted!

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8 Comments

  1. Ria Sharon said,

    Hey, Leslea. Just read your post. Good for you. You know, now that you mention it, I have had someone say something to me… like “But your are not a non-profit. You’re a for-profit business.” I guess her implication was the same as what you are describing. Truly, considering how much work it is, I made more per hour in my previous career. It certainly was less risky and less stressful. But Check My Tag is much more rewarding. I know, from the great feedback I receive from other allergy moms like you, that I am making a difference. And it is what I am compelled to do… I feel like I am being proactive about my son’s food allergies rather than a victim of fate. Thanks for participating in our blogpush for Food Allergy Week!

  2. allergyware said,

    Yes!

    I have worked for, audited, and help form not-for-profits. The paperwork, assembling a board of directors, writing grants — these are generally not things that are easy for a full-time mom to do on her own, in between caring for her family.

    Making some shirts, doing some blog posts? I can do that!

    The thing about working for oneself is that you can fit it into your schedule. Sure, we may not make a lot of $ from it (I certainly do not!), but it is so worth it.

  3. ChupieandJsmama said,

    If someone accused you of doing this blog or the shirts because of “money” then they are not an allergy parent. They do not understand the fear that we live with daily as we send our children out into the world and entrust them to the care of other people. The blogs are to help others, who don’t deal with food allergies on a daily basis understand what our children go through and what we as parents go through. I also started blogging about food allergies as a way to connect with other parents who are going through the same things that I am. It also helps me vent when I’m frustrated, scared, or sad. The shirts and other allergy products are to be pro active and protect our children. I’m assuming you are not a millionaire and can’t give the shirts away for free. I’m also assuming that you started making/selling the shirts as a way to protect the child that is nearest and dearest to your heart and offer them to us to do the same. We live in a world full of judgemental people and I’m sorry someone reached out and tried to push thier preconceived notions on you. I hope that she or he never has to deal with something of this nature in their lives and that if they do, no one tries to put on them the label they tried to put on you.

  4. Gina said,

    Leslea,
    What a wonderful post. I couldnt agree more with everything you said–especially
    ” I am doing what I can, where I can, with what I can.”

    There are so many wonderful allergy moms and dads out there and whether you are a volunteer, for-profit, non-profit or some of each, we are all providing more awareness to this invisible condition.

    Take care,
    Gina
    http://www.allergymoms.com

  5. Provman said,

    Please take a look at the above site for more information.

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