In 2012, when Zachary Quinn and Brian Keller founded Love Your Melon their goal was to make a difference while also creating something useful. Making a difference entails donating half of the business’ profits from its products to fight pediatric cancer. And the something useful means making a hat that is well-made and comfortable — especially for children battling the disease.
The two formed the company while taking an entrepreneurship class at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. The company’s mission is straightforward: “Love Your Melon is an apparel brand dedicated to giving a hat to every child battling cancer in America as well as supporting non-profit organizations which lead the fight against pediatric cancer.”
Today, LYM has donated more than $1.5 million from profits made from the sales of its products. And it has also donated over 85,000 hats. The company noted that its “partners work in the field of pediatric oncology, fund cancer research initiatives and provide immediate support for families of children battling cancer.” Celebrities seen donning LYM hats include Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis and Justin Bieber. LYM offers 1,000s of stockkeeping units in categories that include caps, cuffed beanies, pom beanies, accessories and apparel — all with the LYM logo, and in a broad spectrum of colors.
Moreover, the company has built a cadre of over 12,000 college students across the U.S. who serve as ambassadors, which involves participating in community events with children who are being treated for the disease. The ambassadors are mostly Millennials, and so are the consumers who buy the products. But what makes Millennials so attracted to the brand? And to the cause?
“It’s because it is authentic,” Quinn told WWD. “It’s not about the thought of making a difference, but that they’re actually doing something to make a difference. It’s about giving them control.”
Quinn and Keller chose pediatric cancer as the cause because they wanted to have the “largest impact,” Quinn said adding that he’s “seen many people afflicted with cancer, but with kids, there’s no reason for them to have it.”
Initially, spreading the word about LYM and its mission was done by hitting the road. “We bought a tour bus that belonged to a hockey team,” Quinn said. “It had 990,000 miles on it, but we refurbished it, ripped out the seats and toured the country.”
The ambassador program was born out of that initial tour to keep the momentum going. Events conducted by the student ambassadors is key. Last year alone, LYM held over 700 donation events. Social media now plays a big role in promoting the brand and keeping the community of volunteers informed and connected.
And when it comes to selling products, Quinn said there’s no mystery to what makes the business successful. Quinn said LYM does about two to three photo shoots a week, “and we’re constantly updating the content and products,” he said adding that generating excitement is what drives online conversions.
“It also ties back to authenticity,” Quinn said. “There’s no trick. It’s about keeping things simple.”