Growing up in New York, Melissa headed to The Big Easy to study marketing at Tulane University, ultimately falling in love with the entrepreneurial hustle during her first post-grad job launching a gourmet foods company. While it wasn’t glamorous, Melissa was drawn to the start-up culture and being a part of something new (albeit working from an NYC basement alongside a trash compactor). While Melissa ultimately made a move to the magazine industry to help launch Time Out New York, her experience at the start-up, which later evolved into KIND, shaped her love for not-only-for-profit businesses with a purpose.
While Melissa was working her way up in the magazine industry, her eyes were opened by the dreaded C-word: CANCER. At the time of Melissa's malignant melanoma diagnosis at age 26, she was shocked to learn that lightweight clothing wasn't as protective as she thought. Like most people, she didn’t know that a lightweight tee is the equivalent of SPF 5! Melissa started looking for stylish sun protective options for herself and quickly realized they didn't exist.
For years Melissa continued to research sun protective fabrics, finally taking the leap to start Cabana Life. While working at Vanity Fair and simultaneously hatching plans for Cabana Life, Melissa met her co-founder Alyssa, who shared her passion for sun protection after watching two family members suffer and eventually lose their battle with skin cancer.
Melissa and Alyssa didn’t want people to have to choose between fashion & function, so they set out to create a new trend: sun protection people actually WANT to wear. While you may know Cabana Life from their popular women’s collection, they started out designing kids’ playwear, recognizing parents will do anything to protect their children. While Melissa & Alyssa were not parents at that time, they 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, Melissa & Alyssa continue to hustle hard to make their self-funded business a success creating a solution that became a multi-million dollar business.
Cabana Life is designed to make the whole family feel AND look their best. For over 15 years Cabana Life has been inspired by customer stories related to skin cancer & prevention, creating styles that work hard and play hard with UPF 50+ fabrics.
Cabana Life’s sun protective styles can be found at more than 400 retail locations, including independent boutiques throughout the country, luxury resorts like the Ritz Carlton and Four Seasons, as well as larger stores like West Marine, Dillards and Everything But Water. Talbots recognized Cabana Life as the leader in stylish sun protection and commissioned an exclusive collection for the last two years (and counting). Through these retail partnerships, influencer relationships and our collaboration with hint, we are excited to reach millions of customers with the important message of year-round sun protection.
With the success of Cabana Life comes the most rewards opportunities as a not-only-for-profit business. Cabana Life has donated to many different non-profit organizations that share its mission of education, prevention and early detection, including the Melanoma Research Alliance, IMPACT Melanoma, AIM at Melanoma Foundation, Stand Up To Cancer and more.