Health & Fitness » Lifestyle » Vol. 47

AllerWare aims to bring food allergy awareness

AllerwareThe moment Marci Komssi’s 1-year-old son had his first life-threatening allergic reaction was the moment that ignited the drive to start her business – AllerWare, LLC.

The purpose of AllerWare is to “raise awareness of food allergies for kids who can’t speak for themselves,” said Komssi, owner and manager of AllerWare. The business produces temporary tattoos, long-lasting stickers and paper bracelets, each of which is branded with a cartoon character describing the type of allergy and who to contact in case of emergency.

Many companies in the United States provide similar products, but what makes this Charlton-based company unique is its focus on food allergies and creating a brand of products for a group of children – infants and toddlers – who are most at risk. “A lot of people do something similar, but their primary focus is not on allergy awareness. Our products are something that kids can relate to,” Komssi said. The merchandise serves as a means of communication for children who cannot fully explain their allergies.

It took Komssi, a longtime public advocate for food allergy awareness, two years come up with the idea for AllerWare. She hired an illustrator to create the characters that appear on the temporary tattoos and stickers, but it took another eight years for the business to actually grow into what it has become.

Allerware“It’s very intimidating to start your own business. The sketches and ideas were all there, and I was envious of those [other small business owners] who took the leap. But I knew it was something I needed to do,” Komssi said, “so I went to a Center for Women and Enterprise class on business planning and went from there.”

It is estimated that nearly 6 million children in the United States have food allergies, with young children being the most susceptible to incident. Awareness is AllerWare’s overarching goal – to help school systems and the public better understand the severity of food allergies. The company’s motto reflects that goal: Raising Awareness, Protecting Kids.

“It’s not a laughing matter. It’s real and life-threatening,” Komssi said. “People need to understand the seriousness of food allergies. Intolerance is not the same as a food allergy, and I think people need to understand that.”

Despite the company being in its infancy, launched just this past May, Komssi believes that AllerWare is having a positive impact on the local community, and she hopes it will soon stretch far beyond. With the founding of AllerWare, Komssi, who also started the Central Massachusetts Parents of Children with Food Allergies Support Group and is the social media director for Allergy Moms, is expanding her footprint in the allergy awareness community.

Allerware“I have huge support from them [allergy awareness community] and my family. Knowing that they all want to see the product helps,” Komssi said.

Komssi said that eventually she wants the business to run itself, so she can step out and be an advocate. “I’ve always been an entrepreneur, but I really just want to get the word out to as many people as I possibly can, and I can do that with advocacy.”

So far, AllerWare has seen a positive response from the local community, with sales to individuals and organizations across the state of Massachusetts and a following on both Facebook and Twitter. With this substantial start, Komssi is hopeful that product sales and awareness will continue to increase across the state.

“All of this really began because of my son,” Komssi said. “I didn’t want him to be excluded because of his allergies, and I wanted to make sure his needs were being met, even when I wasn’t there to fill them.”

For more information, visit allerware.com and find AllerWare on Facebook and Twitter.

By Ryan Cashman

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