PROFILE: Co-founder of online store for patients believes in INGA Wellbeing
Yvette has long, thin white scars on the inside of her upper arms. Reminders of a time when her Crohn’s Disease raged so out of control that she had to take high-dose steroids and her weight ballooned leaving her afterwards with unsightly excess skin.
The operation to remove it was one of many hospitalisations endured by Yvette, the petite Flemish-speaking co-founder of Yvanta.be, an online lingerie and accessories store for people with stomas, other medical needs and disabilities.
“I received the last rites twice,” she told me when I visited her at Yvanta’s distribution center in eastern Belgium to drop off more of INGA Wellbeing’s adapted patient clothing. I couldn’t quite believe that the vibrant, trim, 40-something now running her own business could ever have been so near death!
“I wanted to turn my experiences into something good. To help others,” she said explaining the motivation behind the company that is now in its’ sixth year and, after many setbacks and hard times, is beginning to grow from strength to strength.
“On the days that I am totally exhausted and wonder why on earth I started this, I just have to think about the person that I visited that day that now feels better than they did before because they now have the right clothes to wear, or the person that has not been as lucky as me and whose family now has to live without them. Then I find the strength to continue because each person helped makes it worthwhile.”
As we added INGA Wellbeing’s new short-sleeved, reversible t-shirts and unisex drain bags to the Yvanta inventory, Yvette shared with me that she has built her business by driving around the country in order to visit people in their homes and advise them on the best clothing solutions for their situation.
And just at that moment, an elderly gentleman with a catheter calls and requests a home visit. Yvette duly notes date, time and address and promises to see him next week. “It takes a long time to go to see everyone in person, but I always think of my own mother and how she would struggle to make online purchases so these house calls really help people to feel confident and the nurses get to know me and trust me too. That is so important: to be trusted.”
Indeed, for all of us at INGA Wellbeing it is a wonderful endorsement to have been selected by Yvette to join the list of brands that she supplies as she has become the go-to resource for so many nurses and carers in Belgium.
“I only work with brands that I believe in,” she told me. “And I can see that your mission and that of Yvanta are aligned. We were both created out of personal experiences and we both want to help others to feel better. I think we can do it. We just have to keep going.”
Ah, Yvette, thank you!! We are so happy to partner with you!