A few years ago, Naomi Collings was diagnosed with melanoma – an aggressive, deadly cancer often linked to sun exposure.
That life changing discovery and her subsequent recovery has taken Naomi and her sister Kristy Parnell down a new career path.
The siblings wanted to increase awareness of sun damage and so launched a range of swimwear with a difference.
The MARA swim label offers style with the added bonus of effective and lasting sun protection.
The sisters use distinctive bold prints and unique designs to create fashionable swimwear made from quality fabrics that are UVP 50+, to shield your body from the sun.
By creating a luxurious and unique range of long sleeve one-pieces, swim tops and swim pants, they are providing not only beautiful swimwear but also a lifesaving gift – which is the label's greatest achievement.
And their new sun smart swimwear is now turning heads on beaches and in pools across the globe.
“Our swimwear range is Australian made, meaning our quality is produced ethically, which meets the standards of all international markets," said Naomi.
Since launching last year they have seen interest from international markets including the US West Coast, French Polynesia and Europe – and online sales are booming.
They have also had sales across Asia and plan to target the region in coming months.
The two sisters, both dedicated mums with young children, are currently working on a new summer collection to be released this year.
At the same time, they continue to spread the word about skin cancer and the dangers of sun exposure.
Naomi Collings (left) and Kristy Parnell
Helping women worldwide to protect their skin
"Since we launched in March 2017 we are now experiencing a whole new market,” said Naomi. “There are now MARA swim owners all over the world. We are proud to help women everywhere protect their skin with our swimwear.”
Naomi says the new markets have created a host of new opportunities.
“We have now been invited to L.A Fashion Week, we are getting interest from the US Paddleboarding market and stockists requests are coming in from east coast of the US.”
The international attention will not only help to grow the brand, but will also spread the sun protection message globally, she says.
“International recognition means women everywhere are joining us to protect their skin and work towards ending skin cancer.”
Every woman should have one
The siblings are based in Queensland – the sunshine state – which has a notorious reputation for having one of world’s highest melanoma incidence rates.
Pro surfer Sally Fitzgibbons
It was Kristy’s keen eye that first noticed Naomi’s unusual sun spot in 2014, which was later diagnosed as melanoma.
And it was Kristy, a former hairdresser, that encouraged Naomi to launch the new label to fill a much-needed gap in the swimwear market.
Kristy says every woman should have a sun protective swimwear piece in their wardrobe.
“The choices have never been better now that MARA swim Australia is delivering style to the typically boring market," she says.
Since the launch, the sisters have forged some incredible partnerships.
Pro surfer Sally Fitzgibbons has been spotted representing the brand during the world surf league championship tour as a fan and lover of the swimwear.
Making skin health a priority
However, it is the partnership with Melanoma Institute Australia formed earlier this year that means the most to these sisters.
"As a business, we want to do all we can to create more awareness for melanoma and the Melanoma Institute of Australia,” said Naomi.
“It is an organisation that has a very special place in our heart. Sun protection messages is at the genuine base of everything we do, it definitely helps drive us each day when we get to create beautiful swimwear while at the same time sending our message.”
MARA swim customers are now bringing sun protection into their lives and making the health of their skin a priority.
“Most important to us is that women get it, our MARA swim customers either already understand the importance of sun protection or our unique designs merging high fashion with sun protection has brought Melanoma into the spotlight for them," said Naomi.
With the new partnership they are helping to contribute to vital research for melanoma, which will continue to help save lives.
"Our partnership with Melanoma Institute Australia builds confidence in our brand and gives us the ability to give back to a great organisation,” says Kristy.
One dollar from every purchase of a MARA swim product is now donated to the institute.
Naomi and Kristy are nominees for this year’s AusMumpreneur awards, a movement that recognises high achieving mums in business.
“There are so many amazing women balancing motherhood and business in Australia and even around the world, so we are honoured,” said Kristy.
“It is so empowering being a mother, a woman and a businesswoman and being nominated for this award is great motivation to keep moving forward towards our goals and success."