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Lucky Charms

Medical ID tags have become high fashion thanks to this creative entrepreneur.
May 1, 2007
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/177264

What: Fashionable medical ID tags
Who: Julia van Hees-Aidner and James Martin of Jewels et Jim
Where: New York City
When: Started in 2006
Startup Costs: About $100,000

Everything changed for Julia van Hees-Aidner the day Zoe Potkin was diagnosed with epilepsy.

In 2003, van Hees-Aidner was working in PR for several high-end jewelry companies when she received a call from her friend, Ralph Potkin, who was concerned about his daughter's refusal to wear the medical ID tag notifying doctors that she was epileptic. Van Hees-Aidner scoured lists of jewelers, searching for someone who could make a fashionable ID tag to fit Zoe's lifestyle. But she found no one.

Van Hees-Aidner, 49, was also reluctant to wear a medical ID tag alerting doctors of her drug allergies and lupus condition, so she decided to create a tag that wouldn't embarrass wearers. She partnered with vintage jewelry expert James Martin, 45, to create Jewels et Jim, a line of high-end, fashionable medical ID tags.

The Jewels et Jim charms are a far cry from old medical ID bracelets. Each charm features the staff of Asclepius, the medical symbol emergency professionals use to identify patients with drug allergies or other medical conditions. Highly stylized precious and semiprecious jewels and stones make up the face of each charm.

"They're not just bracelets," says van Hees-Aidner. "The charms can also be worn on a necklace, and we'll be offering rubber and silk cords for a younger audience." Prices for the jewelry, which is sold at Geary's of Beverly Hills and select Neiman Marcus stores nation-wide, range from $250 to $12,000.

With 2007 projected sales of $2 million, the company will introduce a children's and men's line this year and will donate a portion of profits to lupus and epilepsy causes.