Survivor Spotlight Series: Melissa Papock, Cabana Life Founder

Survivor Spotlight Series: Melissa Papock, Cabana Life Founder

From Cancer to Cabana (Life!)

Cabana Life Founder wearing White/Navy Terry Tunic in Greece by water

Melissa, Cabana Life Founder & Skin Cancer Survivor

Diagnosed with malignant melanoma at age 26, I was shocked to learn that lightweight clothing wasn't as protective as I thought. Like most people, I didn’t know that a typical cotton tee is about SPF 5! I started looking for stylish sun protective options and quickly realized they didn't exist. Working in the NYC fashion magazine industry & inspired by my own cancer experience, I turned the dreaded C-word (CANCER!) into a more beautiful, happy C-word (CABANA!). 

For years I continued to research sun protective fabrics, finally taking the leap to start Cabana Life. While working in marketing at Vanity Fair and simultaneously hatching plans for Cabana Life, I met my co-founder Alyssa, who shared my passion for sun protection after watching two family members suffer and eventually lose their battle with skin cancer. Despite now being in different states, our constant personal & professional phone calls keep us connected. I couldn't imagine doing this (Cabana) life with anyone else. 

Cabana Life Founders

Left to right: Cabana Life Founder & Skin Cancer Survivor Melissa Papock and Co-founder Alyssa Adams

We didn’t want people to have to choose between fashion & function, so we set out to create a new trend: sun protection people actually WANT to wear. While you may know Cabana Life for our women’s dresses, we started out designing kids’ playwear, recognizing parents will do anything to protect their children. 

Cabana Life Kids Playwear

While we were not parents at that time, we started the conversation of sun safety with parents, and the awareness of UV protective fabrics grew from there. From reality TV appearances, retailer partnerships and the ever-changing landscape of e-commerce, we continue to hustle hard to make this self-funded business a success. And after years of learning the fashion industry, we launched a women's collection of UPF 50+ styles – and the rest is history! 

Cabana Life Founders at tradeshow

Sparked from one of my darkest days, it’s truly been a dream to watch Cabana Life grow, helping millions of women & their families stay sun safe. We’re in more than 400 retail locations, including independent boutiques, luxury resorts and department stores. Plus, collaborations with Talbots, West Marine & more have allowed us to share the importance of sun protection with like-minded brands. We are so grateful for all the opportunities Cabana Life affords us to spread awareness & give back to lifesaving skin cancer organizations. 

Cabana Life founder with kids

As a mom of 3 living & working in sunny Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, I understand the importance of creating styles that work for you & everything you do. I constantly read product reviews and listen to our team share customer feedback on how we can continue to grow and improve our line. We design functional & fashionable UPF 50+ styles that work hard & play hard, just like you. 

Cabana Life founders with cake

For over 15 years we have been inspired by our customers and their stories. Thank you for supporting our women-owned business on a mission to prevent skin cancer with sun safe solutions. 

Founded by a skin cancer survivor, Cabana Life is on a mission to keep you safe & stylish! Knowing firsthand the effects of skin cancer on patients, family & friends, we encourage you to share your story to inspire, educate & empower others in the Cabana Life community during Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Share how skin cancer impacts you and/or your loved ones to be featured in our Survivor Spotlight and we'll gift you $20 off full-priced orders of $100+. Submit your story and read more Survivor Spotlight Series here. Thank you for helping us spread awareness this May!