Disrupt Magazine / September 2020
Mimi Lee is legendary in sporting circles. Her company’s Sun Safe clothing products are worn globally by some of the world’s biggest names!
Lee recognised the need for a change in Australia’s sun safety culture while on the golf course back in 2010. Combining this with figures that show three in four people with fair skin are diagnosed with skin cancer before the age of 70, Lee decided to act.
Lee founded SParms (Sun Protection Arm Sleeves) in 2010, and today, it is the number one brand in sun protection sleeves in the golfing space – with more than 300 professional athletes wearing the products daily.
“I realised that I could offer high-risk people, a cover-up to protect them from the sun’s harsh rays. SParms is challenging the concept of sun protection by offering a simple, easy, safe, and cool way to achieve ultimate sun protection,” Lee said.
According to Lee, her vision was not only to bring a revolutionary product to the market but also to flip people’s mindset about the dangers of being exposed to harmful, ageing UV rays while they were out and about taking part in sport and recreational activity.
“In March 2020, I felt the same burning I did 10 years ago. I had to help provide much-needed safety to people and to help protect people in the midst of the COVID pandemic by providing face masks,” Lee said.
“As pioneers in the personal safety industry, we knew we could make a difference. We had the tools, capabilities, ideal materials, and technological know-how to make re-usable, washable, wearable high-quality masks.
“So we got to work. Before the important health benefits of wearing face masks were officially communicated, we had already spent a month on the drawing board at SParms HQ, designing our V1 face masks and introducing them to our audience.”
According to Lee, unlike their sun safety crusade in 2010, 10 years on, SParms already had an army of golf ambassadors who wanted to support their vision of helping to keep people safe.
“For the whole month of June, we worked with our Ladies Professional Golfing Association (LPGA) tour members to raise face mask donations for the vulnerable. Over the month, we donated over $70,000 worth of face masks to our LPGA players’ chosen local charities,” Lee said.
“Our mission was not simply to sell face masks. It was to promote safe practices such as mask-wearing during a pandemic – as wearing our sleeves makes sense when out in the sun.”
According to Lee, when the Victorian Government declared face masks were mandatory, they started to see Australians’ attitudes changing. Suddenly there was a shortage, and the desperation for masks became evident across the community.
“It was another turning point and we had to review how we were going to respond. We had to act very quickly to meet demand, and it was going to require working around the clock to get this done. With limited flights into the country, courier, shipping, freighting all disrupted and delayed, we were faced with challenges and difficulties – but we pushed through,” Lee said.
“Four weeks on, we had developed an additional two new face mask designs and secured a manufacturing capacity of 100,000 units weekly.
“It has been so rewarding to see the impact SParms has had on the Australian community. I am so proud of our entire team who have worked tirelessly as we lead the conversation surrounding facemasks in the midst of this crisis – as well as being agile and responsive to the community’s needs during a difficult time.”
According to Lee, SParms’ industry-leading high-tech fabric has a maximum SPF rating of 50+, and the brand’s proprietary premium re-engineered yarn material is lightweight, breathable, moisture-wicking, with a 4-way stretch combined with a motion 3D pattern for maximum comfort and performance.
“Our mission to help shape and influence sun safety culture for the next generation has exceeded all of our expectations – but we are not slowing down. And now we have an added focus to ensure we are able to provide as many masks as possible to help people keep safe during the pandemic,” said Lee.
Mimi Lee is a powerhouse businessperson with history and qualifications in business, law, and accounting. Her passion for building brands and positively impacting people’s lives across the planet has also led to her founding and directing luxury retreat and wellness centre, Retreat Wellness, and leading elite golf academy, Ankgolf International Golf Academy.
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