Interviews with purpose-driven leaders who are dedicated to helping others and making a positive impact in the world.
July 1, 2021
Chaitenya Razdan | Care+Wear
TELL US, WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU DO?
My name is Chat Razdan and I am the founder and CEO of Care+Wear. Our company is focused on reimagining how the world looks and feels about healthcare by bridging function and fashion together.
HOW DID YOU GET HERE?
It all started a little over seven years ago. I had a loved one diagnosed with cancer who was told to wear socks over what’s called a PICC line, which is basically an IV that goes into your arm and connects to your heart. It’s a way to get nutrition or antibiotics into your body over an elongated period of time. I saw people wearing socks on their arms and thought, “Wow this stinks, there’s got to be something better.” I started working with nurses and doctors from Johns Hopkins and UVA to try and redesign the tube sock. As I was doing that, I took a step back and realized whenever you go to the hospital, everything has been focused on function and not on how it works or how it makes you feel.
I’m a former strategy consultant and an investment banker, so I knew that I had to get the right people in the room with me to design these important products. Today those initial people have helped in a three-pronged approach to the design and development of each of our products.
First and foremost, we’re always working with clinicians to make sure that our products are medically superior to everything else out there. It also strategically enables us to get proprietary IP on each and every one of our products. Secondly, working with the end-users. When I was a child and had to get tubes in my ears, I had to wear a patient gown exposing my backside to the entire hospital. So we want to make sure we get that seven-year-old version of Chat involved in the design and development of each of our products. Finally, we bring a manufacturing and design approach to incorporate the latest trends and technologies in designs. We’ve been really proud and fortunate to work with amazing brands like Oscar de la Renta. We taught a class at Parsons School of Design to redesign the patient gown, and we are the first brand ever to collaborate and use the March of Dimes brand on our NICU onesies. At the end of the day, we’re really just focused on trying to reimagine the healthcare experience altogether.
WHAT DO YOU STAND FOR? WHY IS THIS WORK IMPORTANT TO YOU?
I grew up in a healthcare environment. I was in the hospital a number of times with surgeries and also was really good at breaking bones. I remember having to wear a plastic bag on my arm when I showered. There’s always historically been a loss of dignity and comfort when you go into the hospital. No one has really tried to make it a more comfortable experience for patients and clinicians alike. I felt that there was a strong need to restore humanity, dignity, and kindness to those going through the toughest of times. When I started the company it was to help my loved ones fighting cancer. While I have never been through it, I knew that you shouldn’t have to wear a sock on your arm while you’re fighting cancer. I wanted to bridge function and fashion together to help reshape the healthcare industry. I’m really fortunate to have an amazing team working alongside me, each and every person with a personal story and reason for being here. I would say, the game hasn’t even started in terms of the impact that we can make and how much change we can help bring throughout the healthcare industry.
WHAT IMPACT ARE YOU MAKING?
Last year, we delivered more than 15 million units. In the grand scheme of things that’s still a tiny segment of the population. We’re not only looking to help people fighting cancer, but also those who are dealing with broken bones, tennis, elbow, etc. I think about impact, I think about what drew me to starting Care+Wear, to impact even one life and help one person. When I started, I remember talking to a couple of my mentors and their comments were that if I try to help patients is that really the worst thing in the world? That’s what helped me realize I need to go out and do this.
We need a world with inspiration more so than ever. Think about clinicians who are risking their lives to help save lives. During the middle of the pandemic, we here in New York City saw clinicians walk out of the hospital at one point and see dead bodies being piled up in tents. They were losing their inspiration and their motivation for doing what they do. I think it’s important to reinvigorate and re-inspire everyone around us and to realize that, no matter what you’re going through, we’re here to be there alongside you to help you hopefully come out on top.
One of my favorite stories is in the early days when we had a high school student with a PICC line who wanted to go to her prom. She wanted to wear a sleeveless dress but was really worried that everyone was going to stare at her arm. Thankfully we had a PICC line cover that matched her dress, so she was able to go to prom in her sleeveless dress and not worry about everyone just staring at her arm. It’s stories like that that motivate us.
WHAT (OR WHO) INSPIRES YOU TO DO THIS WORK?
I think it’s the community. It’s every member of our community, whether patient or clinician, who is doing so much and just wanting to go about their daily lives in a way that makes them feel their best. It’s our being able to help them do that that inspires me and our team each and every day.
WHAT’S YOUR VISION, YOUR BIG DREAM FOR THE IMPACT YOU WANT TO MAKE?
At the end of the day, we’re really focused on reimagining how the world looks and feels about healthcare. There’s so much to be done there. There are more than a billion people in the world and COVID-19 has made this an even bigger and more profound problem than ever before. It’s working with clinicians and patients alike to really help as many people as possible. So far we’ve been fortunate to launch a number of products and have some amazing partnerships. We work with over 80 hospital systems and governments around the world. We sell directly to consumers on our website, but there’s so much more that we can do. We’re eager to be making a bigger difference and to help even more people through their journeys and to do whatever we can to allow people to feel like themselves again.
WHAT CHALLENGES ARE YOU FACING?
As a start-up, the cliche is that it’s a roller coaster ride. You have 90 amazing things happen every day and you have 90 world-ending things happen every day. One of the fortunate things about working with the community that we do is that we remember all the positives. You’re inspired by everyone around you to keep doing as much as possible. In the short run, one challenge we’re up against is around logistics – supply chain and the rising cost of logistics. The biggest challenge is always helping people know that we exist. The most common piece of feedback I always get is, “I wish that I knew about this earlier.” In the grand scheme that’s the biggest challenge to us, along with the challenges that come with continuing to grow.
WHAT’S ONE THING YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR CAUSE AND/OR THE WORK YOU’RE DOING?
What people have asked you historically to wear doesn’t mean that it’s what you need to wear today. A lot of people are scared about change. I think a lot of people are scared about continuing to refine products and continuing to make improvements. A number of years ago, when Gmail first started, they used to actually have the word “Beta” underneath their logo for a number of years. It was crazy because they had hundreds of millions of people using them, yet it still said “Gmail Beta.” That’s how we think about the work that we’re doing. What I tell everyone is we don’t have such a thing as a final version, and we never will. We are always looking to improve, we’re always looking to make our products better. The best way to do that is by continually refining. We’re always asking for feedback and more importantly, we actually read each and every suggestion that comes into us. At the end of the day, it’s never too late to try and innovate. There’s never a time when you can’t do more. Care+Wear is focused on continuing to make amazing products to help people in need and to enable them to go about their daily lives.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE QUOTE OR WORDS OF INSPIRATION TO SHARE?
It’s Gandhi’s “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” It’s my driving inspiration, it’s what inspires us each and every day, and seeing the amazing people around us who we get to help. If you think you’re having a bad day, imagine if you have stage four cancer, and you don’t know if you’re going to get to have that next day. The positivity and the courage that each and every person in our community shows is what really drives us and inspires us.
HOW CAN OTHERS SUPPORT YOU OR YOUR CAUSE?
First, if you see something you think needs to be fixed, please do something about it to make a change. When Care+Wear started it’s not like I was a 30-year-old fashion designer with a legendary background. I was trying to help my loved ones. I want each and every person to feel the same way. My second ask and biggest challenge is driving awareness. Let people know that we’re here to support them, and we want to help.
At Orapin, we believe those who are working for the greater good should be known, supported, and celebrated. We give organizations that have a story to tell and a message that matters the resources and support they need to increase awareness and grow their audience so they can expand their impact. If you would like to be featured in INSPIRED IMPACT™, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.