Can you tell us how Love Your Melon came to be?
Love Your Melon was founded in an entrepreneurship class at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota by two friends, Zachary and Brian. Given an assignment to create a small business, the two developed the idea to create warm, fashionable beanies that would also make a difference. On a mission to improve the lives of children battling cancer since October 22nd, 2012, Love Your Melon’s mission began with the simple idea of putting a hat on every child battling cancer in America.
After achieving the original goal of giving 45,000 hats — one for every child battling cancer in America — Love Your Melon set a new goal of giving one million dollars to pediatric cancer research and providing direct support to children and their families.
To date, Love Your Melon has given over $3.8 million to its nonprofit partners and over 125,000 hats to children battling cancer.
How did you come to the decision to make supporting a cause part of your business model?
We knew from the very beginning that we wanted to focus on more than making a profit. We picked supporting childhood cancer patients because there are thousands of children in America with their lives completely disrupted and sometimes taken by this disease. We saw the opportunity to make their lives better.
How was LYM launched and how has the brand grown since its inception in 2012?
After selling out of the first 200 hats within two days, we knew the brand had the potential to grow significantly. I dropped out of school to run the business full time and we embarked on a nationwide bus tour to spread the word about our products and mission. As we met numerous college students across the country who wanted to get involved, we built the Love Your Melon Campus Crew Program. A program made up of college ambassadors who deliver beanies to children in hospitals and promote the brand, the Campus Crew Program has now grown to over 10,000 ambassadors. Simultaneously, we focused on growing our social media followings and running advertising on those platforms. In the past five years, Love Your Melon has grown to become a well-recognized apparel brand and a leader in the fight against pediatric cancer.
Why pediatric cancer?
We chose to support cancer because so many people in our communities are affected by the disease and there was an obvious fit between the beanies we were making and the needs of those diagnosed with cancer. Patients undergoing cancer treatment often lose their hair and we were set to provide them with warm, comfortable and stylish beanies to improve their experience during treatment. In comparison with adult cancer research and support, pediatric cancer research and support is often overlooked and underfunded.
Can you tell us about the nonprofit partners LYM supports and how much LYM has raised?
Our nonprofit partners work in the field of pediatric oncology, fund cancer research initiatives and provide immediate support for families of children battling cancer. You can learn more about each partner’s mission, the specific initiatives that we support and how our funds are making a significant difference on our website here. To date, we have given over 3.8 million dollars to our nonprofit partners.
In terms of dollars raised and given, where have you seen the most impact?
We have a number of nonprofit partners who are leading the way in pediatric cancer research as well as programs that directly support families battling pediatric cancer. One of them, Be The Match, is making it possible for pediatric cancer patients to find matches for potential bone marrow transplants and in many cases then facilitating the transplants. We aren’t stopping at providing funding to Be The Match, and we’ve gone on to mobilize our Campus Crew Program to host swab drives for individuals across the country to sign up on the bone marrow registry and have the chance to personally save a life. We just had one of our Campus Crew Members find out that they are a match and they are now going through the test phase.
LYM is not just about sales and donating a portion of profit, but is also about mobilizing awareness and social responsibility, can you please describe how LYM does this and how this became a part of the LYM brand?
From the beginning, we have maintained a commitment to community. To us, community means childhood cancer patients in hospitals across the country, groups of college ambassadors united for a cause, customers with a taste for high quality and fashionable products and skilled workers creating those products. These communities often overlap and we aim to tie them together as one. Our products are made in the communities in which they are sold and given.
Where do you go from here? What is on the horizon for LYM?
We are excited to continue partnering with leading nonprofits who are committed to improving the lives of children battling cancer. Our International Giving Program, which launched earlier this season, is gaining momentum as we begin to give hats to children battling cancer all across the world and fund nonprofits working internationally. As we expand our impact for pediatric cancer patients worldwide, we will continue to expand our product lines with high quality, desirable products for customers to wear and use in their daily lives.