After years of caring for family members who are diabetic and on dialysis, Newton County resident Norma Johnson realized all of her accumulated knowledge on appropriate healthy foods, snack items and beauty products could be put to further use. So she started Suitable's Sugarfree and More - a gift basket business specifically for people with diabetes and renal disorders.
"I'm trying to do the leg work for them and gather the information," Johnson said of those that want to give comforting gifts but aren't sure which items are appropriate or usable.
Johnson said she got the idea for the business after watching her sister, who after a kidney transplant surgery, received many get-well baskets that she couldn't use because many of the food products in them were not fit for renal patients.
Renal patients need to monitor their phosphorus and potassium levels while diabetic patients need to be careful of their sugar intake. The combination of the dietary needs of diabetics and renal patients can make it difficult to find appropriate foods that do not aggravate either health condition.
"Most people who are diabetics will become renal patients if they don't take care of themselves," Johnson said.
Each gift basket from Suitable's is tailor-made to the needs of the recipients. There are baskets for little girls, complete with stuffed rabbits and coloring books and baskets for teenagers with iTunes gift cards. Johnson also creates baskets with an eye toward the likes of men. Some baskets are made out of replica sailor chests; others out of tackle boxes.
Johnson builds all chocolate baskets and baskets geared toward cooking aficionados. She also fashions all foot care baskets. For renal patients especially, maintaining healthy feet is essential. The baskets contain skin care products to remove foot calluses and to encourage soft and supple skin to prevent cuts. Special socks with blister free-technology and seamless toes can also be included.
"Each basket is unique," Johnson said. "I try to tailor the baskets to fit their needs."
In addition to the gift baskets, Suitable's also sells a Three Day Diabetic and Renal Emergency Kit. The waterproof kit is to be used in the event of an emergency or natural disaster when dialysis may not be available. It includes grocery items with a long shelf life and meal plans recommended by the National Kidney Foundation.
Baskets begin at $20. Prices depend on the desired contents of the basket and the basket itself. Skin care baskets tend to be more expensive because of the products used. Hand delivery is available for local baskets. Otherwise UPS is used.
Customers can go online to order their gift baskets. Johnson said she expected her Web site to go live by week's end. In the mean time, customers can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (973) 650-9937. Payment is through PayPal.