Meet The Teenager Who Launched A Fashion Label To Help Support Kids With Type 1 Diabetes

SÜ1 donates RM25 from every purchase to organisations that directly help children with the chronic condition.

Cover image via SÜ1 (Provided to SAYS)

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Sofia Sacoor is a 17-year-old entrepreneur who is making waves around the world with her athleisure brand SÜ1

Born in Lisbon, Portugal, and raised in Dubai, UAE, Sofia's journey is as dynamic as the mission driving her athleisure brand.

Diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the tender age of 8, Sofia's life took an unexpected turn.

"Managing my condition altered my lifestyle significantly," she told SAYS in an exclusive interview. "It's a daily battle, affecting not just me but my whole family."

At the age of 13, when the COVID-19 pandemic happened, Sofia was placed under strict lockdown due to her weakened immune system as a result of diabetes.

"It was during this time of self-reflection that I realised that being able to purchase insulin was a privilege and not something taken for granted," she shared.

"I became aware of numerous cases of children who lost the financial means to buy insulin. All these situations left me in anguish and frustration. If we all share the same disease, why can't we all have access to the essential resource that allows us to survive?"

As a result, Sofia established SÜ1 as a means to help support children with Type 1 Diabetes

Launched in June 2023, the brand donates RM25 from each purchase to charitable organisations dedicated to aiding children with this chronic condition.

Yet, Sofia's journey hasn't been without its challenges. As a young entrepreneur, she faces scepticism from potential partners due to her age. "They tend to see me as a kid who is just starting out," she admits.

However, Sofia remains undeterred, guided by her unwavering optimism and determination to realise her vision.

"My designs are inspired by the joy and positivity I want to spread. Each illustration tells a story of hope and resilience, echoing the spirit of those battling Type 1 Diabetes"

Her current range includes T-shirts (regular, mid-cropped and oversized), hoodies, sweaters, shorts, and trousers.

Sofia puts a lot of thought and consideration into her designs, with the goal of expressing happiness and a sense of hope. Her main message is 'A Ripple of Smiles', which she believes starts from spreading joy to customers who purchase her clothes, all the way to the child who benefits from the donation.

Her biggest achievement so far are the partnerships she's forged with institutions that support children with Type 1 Diabetes.

"Some of our ongoing partnerships include the Al Jalila Foundation in UAE, APDP in Portugal, and Sunway Medical Centre in Malaysia, which are major steps towards achieving my purpose," she said with pride.

As a young entrepreneur, Sofia already has priceless insights and experience to share with others, stating that strong business ideas should stem from a well-defined purpose

"Regardless of whether the purpose is to make a profit, to educate people, or to contribute to a social cause, the most important thing is to be resilient and chase our dreams no matter what," Sofia advised.

"For young people like me, the biggest issue might be a lack of time and accessibility to the right means to build our dreams. Given our age and our limited knowledge of the business world, it can be harder for us than for an experienced adult who already has years of working experience before starting their own business.

"Above all, try to learn as much as possible. Start by understanding how to run a business and all the implications inherent to that, and take small steps towards your goal. Do not expect things to get done straight away and be very patient. It might take more time than you expect but, in the end, persistence and consistency are the main tools to achieve our dreams," she shared.

Now, with the launch of the first SÜ1 pop-up store at Sunway Pyramid, Sofia embarks on a new chapter in her entrepreneurial journey

The pop-up serves not only to expand SÜ1's reach beyond online retail but also to raise awareness and funds for children with Type 1 Diabetes through Sunway Medical Centre.

"Our pop-up at Sunway comes with two main objectives. The first objective is to spread the word and create awareness of Type 1 Diabetes and SÜ1.

"The second objective is to donate a portion of the proceeds from the pop-up to Sunway Medical Centre's paediatric wing, where it can directly support children with Type 1 Diabetes," Sofia shared.

The SÜ1 pop-up store will be taking place at Sunway Pyramid Mall from 23 to 25 March, from 10am to 10pm.

In her closing statements, Sofia has a message for her fellow Type 1 Diabetes fighters

"We live with this chronic condition, we have no choice but to rely on a hefty control of our insulin levels to survive. The road is long and there will be times we find ourselves without motivation to keep going.

"During these difficult moments, always keep in mind that living is a blessing and that we should always value it more than anything in the world. Chase your dreams and grab this gift with all the strengths you have.

"Whenever you find yourself in a dark corner, remember to seek help from your loved ones. Take a break whenever you need and rest as much as possible. And above all, be strong and happy!" Sofia concluded.

Be sure to visit the SÜ1 pop-up store in Sunway Pyramid Mall, or shop online here

Image via SAYS

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