International Women's Day - Q&A With Johanna Young

7 min read
International Women's Day - Q&A With Johanna Young
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Tell us why you started Solbari? 

When I moved back to Melbourne from London in 2011, I was shocked to see how many Australians are affected by skin cancer and how preventable this cancer isAs someone who loves to play golf and spend time in the great outdoors, I quickly became aware of the link between damaging UV rays and the high incidence of skin cancer.  This experience sparked my interest in sun protection and skin cancer prevention. I became so passionate about finding a solution to reduce the incidence of skin cancer that I decided to resign from my role in finance to volunteer at the Cancer Council in Melbourne. When I was unable to find stylish, lightweight, breathable and comfortable sun protective clothing with the highest sun protection factor of UPF50+, I decided to create an Australian brand dedicated to sun protection to help all Australians live a healthy life in the sun.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you? 

It's a day to celebrate women's achievements and how far we've come. I believe that it's also a day to remember why diversity and gender equality are so important. It's also a reminder to keep challenging the status quo, to be constantly improving, and working towards eliminating any gender barriers. 

What inspires you? (This could be in life/business/or both) 

The amazing community we are building, and my team. Our community's feedback and appreciation for what we do are invaluable and to know that we are helping people is priceless. My team is outstanding too! Everyone is committed to be the best they can be, to keep improving, growing and developing all aspects of themselves and the Solbari brand; they never cease to amaze me! I feel very grateful to come to work every day.   

What are you proudest of since founding Solbari?  

If you asked me 5 years ago, where Solbari would be today, I would have never imagined we would have customers in 95 countries and be as successful as we are. I would say that my top 3 are: 

  • Developing and creating our own UPF50+ fabrics, tested in Australia, and to have built our UPF50+ sun protective ranges from nothing to over 120 products. 
  • It has been fabulous to have relationships with inspirational partners including BUPA, Cure Cancer Australia, Skin Health Institute, Cancer Society, along with dermatologists and skin experts. 
  • Our daily commitment to reducing skin cancer rates globally by providing the best sun protective products on the market and educating our community about the benefits of sun protection.  

 Why did Solbari choose to launch a partnership with Cure Cancer, and what are your hopes for the partnership? 

Solbari is delighted to partner with Cure Cancer Australia this summer. Cure Cancer is an Australian charity dedicated to funding ground-breaking cancer research. Since its founding in 1967, Cure Cancer has raised over $69.1 million to support more than 528 research grants across all cancer types and areas of cancer research. Solbari's vision has always been to protect Australians from skin cancer, which we feel strongly aligns with Cure Cancer's vision to make our generation the last to die from skin cancer. 

What are your hopes for the future of skin cancer research? 

Some of the world's best scientists and medical specialists are working tirelessly to find better treatments, and ultimately a cure, for skin cancer. I hope that one day, in the not-too-distant future, we will find a cure.  

Solbari products are designed to keep your skin sun-safe all year long. Why do you think this is important?  

The sun can damage your skin at any time of the year. Sun protection can be just as important in winter, when the temperature is low and even when the sun isn’t as visible.  This is why we design Solbari products for comfort and durability, so that you’ll want to wear them all year long. 

What impact do you hope Solbari as a brand could have?  

At Solbari we’re passionate about helping people protect their skin, no matter their lifestyle. We hope that in doing this work we can play a role in skin cancer prevention. Saving just one life from preventing a cancer is reward enough, but being part of a movement that promotes sun-safety we think has transformational potential.  

Australia has one of the highest melanoma rates in the world. Why do you think this is and what can we do to change this?  

In Australia we’re blessed with such a beautiful environment, that it’s so natural to want to spend time outside in it. Unfortunately, this time outside has historically meant time exposed unprotected from the harmful elements of the sun’s rays. We can reduce our melanoma rates as a community by ensuring that when we’re enjoying the outdoors, we’re protecting our skin with UPF50+ clothing, sunscreen, and we’re also getting regular skin checks.

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