Contrary to popular belief, the sun does occasionally shine in Portland, Oregon. And though Summer Kramer (true to her name) enjoys the sun, she has to be careful.
Summer was diagnosed with melanoma on her lower left leg when she was 26. Fortunately, she caught the cancerous mole very early, but it changed her life forever.
When Summer’s dermatologist recommended that she wear sun protective clothing outside, the only sun protective clothing options she could find were either too frumpy or too sporty. And so, the idea for SummerSkin was born.
We sat down to chat with Summer about her challenges, goals, thoughts, and advice when it comes to launching a company in Oregon:
What problem does your business solve?
SummerSkin provides sun protection that doesn’t announce to the world that you are wearing sun-protective clothing. The main market sector for the sun protective clothing industry is still in activewear, but for those of us who spend time outside in non-athletic activities, we need fashionable options that keep our skin safe and still allow us to look and feel fabulous. SummerSkin is designed to fill the fashion gap between frumpy and sporty.
What are the biggest challenges you face as Founder & President of a new company?
Currently, our largest challenge is building scalable operations to match our growth as we reach an extended customer base. I am passionately committed to keeping all production in the United States, which creates the additional challenge of scaling operations while closely managing overall production costs.
What is the best entrepreneurial advice you have received?
I have always lived by the idea that if you’re going to start a business, you have believe in that business’ success all the way down to your core. You have to KNOW that you can build and grow the business. The best entrepreneurial advice that I’ve received is that you have to “be persistent, be persistent, be persistent!”
What song best describes your work ethic?
“I Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
What is your No. 1 goal for the company?
The goal is to make SummerSkin a household brand name that the whole family will want to wear, while staying safe in the sun.
Can you describe your typical day?
In the start up world, there is no ‘typical’ day. As the founder and president, I am used to functioning as our CEO, CFO, Sales, IT and Customer Service, so no two days are ever the same. However, as an entrepreneur, I wouldn’t have it any other way!
What has been the biggest surprise in your entrepreneurial experience to date?
During our launch, the biggest surprise has been Oregon’s amazing community of entrepreneurs and seasoned professionals that are available and willing to support and lend advice to those of us starting out.
What makes Portland a great place to start a company?
Portland is a hub of entrepreneurial spirit and innovation, ranging from young start ups to established and successful companies. There is such a strong network of professionals to pull from, that as a start up you can feel the endless possibilities. And, it rains a lot, so there’s lots of time to stay inside and work.
What’s your favorite local business and why?
Crema Bakery, for its amazing coffee that has fueled numerous SummerSkin meetings.
Here’s our staff pick for most innovative SummerSkin product. Browse them all.