Betsy Johnson watched her niece Mary playing on the beach, glad that she was safely protected from the sun with a rash guard—that’s a tight-fitting spandex shirt. In addition to providing protection from the sun, it protects from surfboard rashes. Then she watched as the little girl struggled into and out of the shirt. Not only is it a very slow process, but pulling it over her face, ears and hair actually hurt! Betsy wondered why the shirt didn’t open in the front to slip into like any shirt. So she cut the shirt up the front, made button holes, and used twisted bobby pins to keep the shirt closed. Maybe not pretty, but certainly effective. Mary could get into and out of the shirt with no muss, no fuss, and no tears.
Some time later, Betsy was diagnosed with skin cancer—as careful as she had always been in the sun. She took some time to take stock. She really liked her job working in finance, but felt something was missing. It was not what she was meant to do. Then she remembered the makeshift rash guard. Bobby pins would not work as a long-term solution, but a zipper would. She founded SwimZip with the mission to develop sun-protective garments that are stylish, functional, and affordable.
Betsy dove right in. She started by searching for swimwear suppliers. She found one but the language barrier could have been prohibitive. However, they both persevered, sometimes communicating via pictures and arrows, and they are still working together. Same way with the website designer she hired. From all the designers on Craig’s List, she chose one and they worked very well together. But only she could design the line. She was not a designer; she could not even draw. But she had always loved fashion and creating her own unique ensembles—she had an eye for what worked. She used PhotoShop, with some help from her mother, a photographer and PhotoShop expert, to create the 100% original designs.
When the first test batch of SwimZip was ready, she sent them out to family and friends and friends of friends, appreciative of all the feedback she received and how excited everyone was about it.
SwimZip now is for the whole family—children and parents—and comes in the latest styles. It is easy on and easy off with Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) 50+.
- The fabric is extremely comfortable with four-way stretch and flat seams.
- The fabric also has the highest rating for sun protection, blocking 98% of UVA and UVB rays.
- It dries quickly and is chlorine resistant.
- A zipper garage prevents chaffing on the chin and a back zipper flap keeps the zipper from both pinching the stomach and rubbing against it.
Betsy is quite proud that SwimZip earned the Parent Tested Parent Approved (PTPA) Seal of Approval.
Mostly she is proud of her product that protects children, in particular, from harmful sun exposure. The skin cancer that appears when we are adults began long before from all the “fun in the sun” when young.