(WIS) - A Colorado startup is creating clothing and jewelry to bring awareness about diseases - but a new item about vaccines is creating a stir.
CureGear is pegged as "Clothing for a cure!" and creator Jessie Frenkel, 26, calls it "a science-inspired clothing brand." Their Facebook page describes their brand as "dedicated to promoting a healthy lifestyle while supporting medical research" with a portion of the sales going to research.
"We thought it would be a great way for women scientists to show off their love for their work since it can be hard to communicate science to the non-science community," Frenkel said via email. "PLUS, we thought this might be a great way to show young girls how 'cool' science is since so few girls are interested in pursuing it due to the negative stigma."
The online store sells jewelry and leggings and was recently a crowd source-funded product on Kickstarter and social media. Frenkel is a graduate student in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO.
But an item posted on Oct. 17 has upset many in the anti-vaccination community. A baseball-style T-shirt that reads: "Vaccines cause adults" is featured on the post that says "Help educate others and advocate for vaccinations with your 'Vaccines cause adults' baseball Tee!"
One comment says " ...with lifelong dependency on the pharmaceutical industry for their brain swelling, autoimmune issues, inflammation, and chronic illness. 'Cure' Gear? You don't want cures - you want customers," one commenter wrote.
Despite the response on either side, Frenkel is reminded of what motivates her.
"I remember one of my professors telling me that as scientists it is our duty to educate others about what we know," Frenkel said, "and so many people have done a great job doing that!"
The anti-vaccination community is strong in the United States, with many parents refusing to take part in the practice.
The History of Vaccinations website says plainly, "Although the time periods have changed, the emotions and deep-rooted beliefs—whether philosophical, political, or spiritual—that underlie vaccine opposition have remained relatively consistent since Edward Jenner introduced vaccination."
The Centers for Disease Control has a list of immunization schedules for children. Vaccinations are up to each parent or guardian and should be discussed with your or your child's doctor.
Despite the controversy, the She said CureGear's original Kickstarter goal was $8,000 and they finished up at $11,442. And as she packs up T-shirts to be shipped to various parts of the country, Frenkel says the original leggings are going to be manufactured and sent to their Kickstarter backers. She says CureGear will continue to base their work on research and make more items.
"We would love to come up with more items!" Frenkel said. "Also, if there is anyone out there who would like to see their images on leggings or collaborate on a special legging we are open to that as well."
If you'd like to learn more about CureGear and how you can purchase the items, click here.