Photos by Petya Shalamanova
With collaborations with high-end brands like Oscar de la Renta, Care+Wear, a relatively young start-up, is well on its way to making a name for itself in the fashion world. But Care+Wear’s clients aren’t the typical consumer—they make fashion-forward clothing with adaptations for people “in need of solutions.”
That’s how Carrie Kreiswirth, director of communications and partnerships, puts it. With one foot firmly planted in the cancer treatment world, Care+Wear produces adaptive clothing for anyone in need—”Whether it’s a broken bone or tennis elbow, from lyme disease to cancer, people are in need of solutions, and we would like to help,” Kreiswirth says.
From the minds of an ex-banker (CEO Chaitenya “Chat” Razdan) and a past member of the fashion industry (co-founder Susan Jones), Care+Wear was created to fuse fashion with function for those in need. Razdan, inspired by family members in treatment for cancer, was stunned when he heard that the recommended solution to covering a PICC line (a catheter inserted into the arm that administers medicine) was a tube sock. “[I felt] that there had to be something better,” Razdan says.
The PICC line cover was Care+Wear’s first product. Featuring an innovative mesh window that allows nurses to view the PICC line insertion site without removing any dressing, the cover is made with super-soft fabric in a variety of colors. Making life easier for those with different medical needs is at the heart of Care+Wear’s mission. “[We] really wanted to build a brand focused on helping people feel like themselves again,” says Razdan.
This is echoed by Kreiswirth, “The overarching goal is to help people everywhere, no matter what they’re going through,” she says. “What’s important to note is that what could seem as innocuous—you know, what you’re wearing on your body, whether that’s during chemo or some sort of treatment or anything—really does have an affect on your overall attitude.”
But making people feel cool and comfortable isn’t their only goal. “I do like to say we are a for-purpose company, because we are creating that component and that community and that notion that it’s important to give back,” says Razdan, and they do so by donating 10 percent of their gross profit to charities like the American Cancer Society, Stand Up to Cancer, March of Dimes, and others.
Additionally, Care+Wear has charity licensing agreements with both the NBA and the MLB. “So if you wanted to buy a PICC line cover with a (Chicago baseball team) Cubs logo, then 10 percent of that would go back to a charity called Stand Up to Cancer [because] that is MLB’s charity of choice,” says Razdan. “It’s a continuous way to give back, so we’re feeling good about what we’re doing.”
It’s the fact that this sentiment is shared by every person the company employees that makes Care+Wear so successful. “What’s really unique about us is everyone has a personal reason for being here,” Razdan begins. “People are here that want to make a difference. […] Everyone here is thinking, How can we help even more people? How can we help create a better team? how do we help create better products? How do we get more involved in the community?”
For Kreiswirth, it’s even more personal than that. “I’m a breast cancer survivor,” she says. “That’s why I wanted to pursue more purpose driven work.” For Razdan, founding a company like Care+Wear has always been part of his life plan. “I think realistically I had always wanted to do something to make a difference in the world,” he says. “I don’t view this as a career per se, I kind of view it more as a fulfilling mission.”
In the future, Care+Wear hopes to continue finding spaces in the adaptive clothing market. This fall, they will release a waterproof PICC line cover—created because their customers asked for it. Using a three-thronged approach—collaborating with medical professionals, clothing designers, and customers themselves—Care+Wear’s products are filling those gaps in the market. “At the end of the day, we want to create products that patients actually want to wear,” Razdan says.
Not sure how you can help a loved one going through cancer treatment? Gift them a Care+Wear product. “A lot of times people are paying off medical bills, and that’s where the money’s going,” Kreiswirth begins. “It’s so nice and thoughtful that people can give you something that’s useful.” Care+Wear’s other featured products include mobility gloves for people in manual wheelchairs (designed with the capabilities to be put on and taken off with your teeth), full-coverage antimicrobial hospital gowns, one-pieces for premature babies that unwrap fully to not interfere with any wires, port access shirts for men, women, and children (as well as port access sweaters designed in collaboration with Oscar de la Renta), and much more. Check out their website here: careandwear.com.