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By Erica Sullivan:
According to the Melanoma Research Foundation, “instances of young people under 30 developing melanoma are increasing faster than any other group, soaring specifically in women by 50% since 1980.”
I’m sure we’ve all seen adorable babies and toddlers running around at the pool or beach in head-to-toe UPF 50+ sun protection, or even older individuals wearing sun-protective garments as a reactive approach to receiving a skin cancer diagnosis. However, there are little to no UPF 50+ garments designed for the years in between. Even though we know, as stated above, that instances of young people under 30 developing melanoma are increasing rapidly.
My name is Erica Sullivan, and I am the CEO and Founder of Low Ultraviolet (L.U.V.), a safe, fashionable and sustainable UPF 50+ lifestyle brand on a mission to educate and protect the public from skin cancer.
Since L.U.V. was founded in December of 2019, I’ve made it our mission to not only provide fashionable, durable and breathable sun-protective clothing but also to create a community of support for those undergoing treatment and fighting their skin cancer battle. We offer sun protective items that help individuals, specifically women, be protected from the sun and continue to live their life on their terms.
L.U.V. was founded shortly after my mom received a malignant melanoma diagnosis. No one in my family has ever experienced skin cancer before, and her diagnosis completely shook my family. We were terrified and had no idea how invasive the melanoma was for several weeks as we waited for various test results to return.
To make matters worse, I was away at Virginia Tech completing my junior year of college and wasn’t there in person to support my mom and the rest of my family. Thankfully, my mom was incredibly lucky and the biopsies all came back with clear margins and no additional treatment was necessary. Now, the only permanent reminders are scars on her shoulder, arm and leg that tell the story of the benefits of early diagnosis.
Due to melanoma potentially having to do with genetics, my mom’s diagnosis convinced me to jump into action. I received my first skin check two weeks after my 21st birthday just for peace of mind. This skin check for peace of mind turned into multiple biopsies, with two returning atypical. The first thing that went through my mind, “How is this possible? I’m only 21. Skin cancer can’t affect me, right?”
This is Erica, her mom and her sister
Fun fact: Atypical moles are at increased risk for melanoma, and due to my family history, there is a strong likelihood that may have been the case.
After dozens of conversations with family, friends and random strangers that became close confidants in Facebook communities, I knew there was an opportunity in the market to not only create a UPF brand but also create a community.
Women I connected with in Facebook groups were going through a lot, and oftentimes felt really alone, and that’s not how things are supposed to be. No one should ever receive a diagnosis and not be equipped with the tools they need. We provide real women, with real stories, the real UPF 50+ protection they need to #outshineskincancer and continue to live their life on their terms.
In turn, we are also creating a community of support where those with a diagnosis can turn to one another for answers. Oftentimes, a skin cancer diagnosis can have an impact on mental health, especially in younger individuals who don’t see any of their acquaintances facing the same experiences. I had my first biopsy when I was 21 years old, and I completely felt alone and like I had no one my age I could turn to who would understand. As L.U.V. continues to grow, we hope to build out our community and have tangible resources and benefits for those diagnosed with skin cancer. We are still in the early days, but stay alongside us for the journey as we pursue future community efforts.
Our mission is to find young individuals, educate them, and help them catch skin cancer before it even becomes harmful. The sooner we make yearly skin checks the new norm for younger individuals, the greater chance we can help individuals live a longer, healthier and happier life. We team up with dermatologists, foundations and other individuals to bring factual information to our Sun Safety Blog. Furthermore, we are partnered with the Melanoma Research Foundation to donate a portion of our proceeds to advance life-saving melanoma research. Both the Sun Safety Blog and the Melanoma Research Foundation provide education for both prevention and awareness, including resources for those newly diagnosed.
At the end of the day, I work to foster a community of support and provide UPF 50+ garments that women feel good wearing. If one life can be changed by L.U.V., all of the sleepless nights and work associated with creating and maintaining a startup company are well worth it!