Still just 21 years old, Emily Levy of Wellesley has suffered from chronic Lyme disease since 2007. For six months during her sophomore year at Babson College, she received intravenous treatment through a catheter line in her arm. She found the protectors available for the “peripherally inserted central catheter,” or PICC, so disagreeable, however, that she covered hers with a sock.
Now a Babson senior and chief executive of PICCPerfect, Levy and fellow founders Yousef Al-Humaidhi of North Hampton, N.H., Maria del mar Gomez of Charlestown, and Hannah Conley of Plymouth have created a line of PICC line protectors merging fashion with function.
Q. What motivated you to turn a personal need into a business?
A. All the times I wore a cut tube sock over my arm at school, when I did presentations, while babysitting, and even at a bar mitzvah, I felt really self-conscious — but the other covers had itchy material or didn’t look cute. I was tired of feeling like the sick girl, not to mention worrying that the PICC line would get pulled. I always wanted to have a business, and then I realized this is what I’m supposed to do.
Q. What is PICCPerfect?
A. PICCPerfect is the name of the business and the fashion accessory. What’s unique is the double fold, so you can pull the PICC line through without people seeing it while you’re doing treatments on the go. The Lycra is reinforced at the top and bottom with loose-fitting elastic designed to be nonmarking. We started with black for $22.99 and added fun patterns for $25.99 to match multiple outfits. They’re all made in the USA.
Q. What is your vision
for the company?
A. We want to expand into other medical accessories but also build a community for people on long-term treatment. We’re very active on social media, and we have a blog called #LymeintoLemonAid where people with chronic illness write to us and we share their stories.
Q. How are you feeling now?
A. I have another two years of heavy treatment, which is another reason I want to be a voice for people with Lyme disease and bring more awareness to it. I get angry, and I get sad, but when I connect with someone who says my product helped them, then it’s worth it. If I wasn’t going though this, then I wouldn’t have become such a stronger person.
For more information, visit www.piccperfect.com.