By Stacey Gualandi
Who hasn’t gone outside on a bright sunny day without wearing any sunscreen? I do it all the time. And I know better! But the idea of slipping on a hideous cover-up, slapping on layers of clothing or slopping on sunscreen is not anyone’s idea of glamour. Leave it to two reformed tanning enthusiasts to create a line of functional sun protective clothing…that’s also fashionable!
Twenty-seven-year-old Anne Botica and 28-year-old Monique Moore were roommates at Boston College. After graduating in 2005, they began to see friends more concerned with aging than tanning. So they ditched their jobs last year and started Mott 50, their new clothing venture featuring sassy, sun protective clothing, with the emphasis on the “protective”.
From the Midwest to Mott Street-the street they live on in New York and 50 is the optimum sun protection factor in their clothing–these digital-minded divas officially launched their fashion-forward collection of tunics, pants, jackets and hats online in March.
I’m thrilled the Mott 50 mavens gave me a much needed reminder about the dangers of sun damage, how to be cute AND covered, and why its better to leave wrinkles for your clothes….!!!
EYE: I always tried to get a tan when I was younger, but “red” is my color unfortunately. I’ve probably been burned and blistered a dozen times. How many sunburns have you had in your life?
ANNE: I’ve definitely had a few, a little earlier in my life. Growing up with summers on Cape Cod and on boats everyday, made the sun hard to avoid, but I was always pretty loaded up with sunblock! My mother is crazy about sun protection.
She had melanoma a couple times and lost a sister to the disease. Getting a sunburn was not acceptable! Monique’s family was less cautious from a skin cancer angle, as she has a tanner complexion. But she has recently become very conscious of sun protection to ward off signs of premature aging and wrinkling.
EYE: Were you surprised when you started thinking about a line of sun protective clothing that there wasn’t much out there and what was wasn’t very fashionable?
ANNE: I wasn’t too surprised, as my mother is quite into sun protection. She owns some protective clothing, but doesn’t want to look like a crazy person. This was actually one of the main catalysts that got us to go through with creating the line. We found that people kept saying, “Why doesn’t somebody make something really cute that people want to wear, regardless of the protection?”
EYE: When did this idea come to you both? How were you inspired?
MONIQUE: We had been thinking about it for awhile, but wondering if it would be something people would really gravitate towards. However, seeing our friends on the beach in the Hamptons all lathered up (these are girls that used to live in tanning beds!), we realized that the trend was finally shifting.
EYE: You are friends, but how does that work as business partners?
ANNE: It works really well! We rarely disagree which is nice, but also respect each others decisions, so when we do disagree it usually means that we need to explore the issue a little more and most of the time reach somewhere in the middle.
EYE: How do a couple of recent college grads get a business like this started? What is your background? Did you have help at all?
ANNE: We both went to Boston College and actually both worked at Conde Nast Digital as well. We knew that we wanted to build a robust website, as our backgrounds are in digital marketing. We also share a passion for clothes and love the outdoors whether it’s on the ocean, boats, tennis, golf.
By combining all of our passions and seeing the need for it, we created the idea in 2009. We knew production was going to be the biggest and most important hurdle, so we did get help on this.
It took us over a year to source the fabrics, test them and find a factory that would create the garments under such strick guidelines!
We have been all over, from China to Alabama-trying to create the best product for our consumer and it’s not over! We are continuing to source new fabrics and evolve the line.
EYE: What is the trend in terms of sun-tanning now? Are you seeing a shift away from cancer…I mean ‘tanning’ beds?
ANNE: Tanning is becoming a trend of the past! People want to protect themselves and do not want the wrinkles and sunspots. We have found that for a lot of our friends, it’s about anti-aging, not necessarily cancer prevention. However the statistics for those who will be affected by skin cancer are alarming.
EYE: I am a prime candidate for skin cancer and had a basil cell removed couple of years ago. Talk to me about those statistics.
MONIQUE: Here are some VERY interesting facts:
– Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the US. Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than combined incidents of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers.
– One in five Americans will develop skin cancer over the course of a lifetime.
– Women under the age of 40 are the group with the fastest growing rate of skin cancer diagnoses
EYE: You just launched your first line in March. Tell me how the material works to block harmful rays?
MONIQUE: UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor and indicates how much of the sun’s UV rays are absorbed by the fabric before it reaches your skin. A UPF rating of 50 means that only 1/50th (or 1 %) of the UV radiation (both UVA and UVB rays) can penetrate fabric, thus indicating how effective the clothing is from blocking UV rays.
In our first line, we have three fabrics. The cotton poplin is treated. This means a treatment is poured in at the dye process to increase the UPF level of the clothing. The other two fabrics are bamboo/spandex and cotton pique. The tightness of the weave and low porosity of the fabrics create a higher UPF in these garments than in typical clothing.
EYE: There is a very personal connection for you in preventing skin cancer. You mentioned that your Aunt died from the disease. Is this what drives you to be successful and spread awareness?
ANNE: Yes, this was a HUGE influence for me in creating the line. The bottom line is that this is a preventable disease!
EYE: I think it’s very important that your company has a seal of approval from the Skin Cancer Foundation. What criteria did you have to pass?
ANNE: We are thrilled to be working with The Skin Cancer Foundation. We went through a testing process with their board to make sure we passed all the requirements to gain the seal. All of the fabrics had to be tested, certified and reviewed by them before gaining the seal of recommendation.
EYE: You are giving back as well by donating portions of proceeds to cancer research. Is this a crucial component of mott50?
MONIQUE: Yes. We both strongly believe in giving back. We try to do as much as we possibly can to get involved with different charities. Both of our families have raised us to think this way, so it was only natural that we incorporated this into our business.
EYE: You started your launch online, then focused on Florida. You now ship to anywhere in the country. What is your next step?
ANNE: We want to be recognized nationally! We are working on a series of summer events and really hope to get our name and website out across the country, especially in the upcoming summer months. Eventually perhaps we can expand internationally.
EYE: What do you say to those folks who insist on sunning without protection?
MONIQUE: Not recommended! A tan fades, wrinkles don’t!
EYE: If we wear your clothes, will we stop wrinkling? hahee… 🙂
ANNE: Our clothes, our hats and sunblock on your face! 90% of aging is due to UV exposure so you can literally ward off such damage by being sun aware.
EYE: Thanks so much gals!! Well, I’ll never be tan, but my skin will be safe and protected! I’d make that trade any day.