Navigating my way through markers and fire trucks and easels and gummy snacks, it could have been any sort of playdate. Yet, as we sat for awhile at her kitchen table surrounded by proud crayon masterpieces and dueling highlighted calendars with interjections and additions every few moments from a friendly two year-old chatter, I found myself increasingly humbled and inspired by Betsy’s clear and steady focus and she passionately shared her story. Like many entrepreneurs, her business, her livelihood has become beautifully intertwined with her lifestyle, her family, her world, and yet, still it goes deeper. It’s a mission. See, with her own diagnosis of skin cancer at age 26, Betsy met this obstacle with not just courage, which would be admirable enough, but with her creativity and ingenuity blazing the way, she overcame it with strength to educate and fight for others. SwimZip, her personally and uniquely designed UV protective swimwear is thoroughly dedicated to the protection of livelihood, the protection of lives.
Meet Betsy Johnson of Prairie Village, KS
How long you have been in business: The idea for SwimZip UV Swimwear was started on a beach in 2009, when my brother, Berry Wanless Co-Founder, was struggling to get his sun shirt off my niece.
Then a few months later, I, was diagnosed with skin cancer at 26. After a few weeks of crying my eyes out, I had an idea and SwimZip was born! I started a sun safe business to educate people on sun protection and make sun safe swimwear that is both adorable and affordable!
SwimZip is a family run business that puts customers first – we are on a mission to keep people sun safe, that is our top priority. Soon it was time to leave the corporate world and start making my mission of easy, functional, and adorable sun protection for kids full-time.
Tell us briefly about your family and your approach to balancing the roles of mother and business owner:
I have an extremely supportive hubby, Matt, and a two year old son, Andy!
They are my world, I can’t get enough of them … they are what keeps me motivated. As far a balance – it’s a hard thing – just thinking about it makes me hope I’m doing a good job. I’ve come up with a few strategies:
1. Schedule – I schedule time to work and time to spend with my family. When it is work time, I sit, focus and get busy so I can get the most out of my time. For me I use my calendar – I schedule time to work each morning, day, and night and when it isn’t work time – it’s family time and errands! When it is family time – I put my phone away and spend time with my son and hubby. This way I don’t feel worried about getting anything done when I’m with the family.
2. Prioritize – For my own sake,I have a list of business priorities and goals sitting in my office, I look at these daily to make sure I am doing the right things first. For me work looks like this: 1. Customers, 2. Product Development, 3. Business Development, 4. Everything else ….
3. Have fun! I make sure I’m having fun in my life and work or else something needs to be changed! For example, when I started stressing too much about getting orders out correctly and on time, I found a fulfillment center to do my shipping. Having fun in a job and life is #1. We only get one life to live, so making the most of it is important!
What has been your greatest success so far in your business or what are you most proud of?
My greatest success has been seeing kids at random pools and beaches wearing SwimZip. That is when I know I am successful, when I see people I don’t know wearing my product. It makes me feel so happy inside that I am keeping kids safe. We have also been featured on the TODAY show and Shark Tank – those two experiences have been amazing. Also, this week there was just a book published on Shark Tank Momprenuers – never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that I would be featured in a book!!!
Is there a way that you involve your family and children in your business?
Oh my goodness yes! My son helps me open returns/exchanges and he also helps me pack up shipments. It is fantastic!! Also, my husband does a little of everything… seriously, there is no way I could run a business without him. He is my biggest cheerleader and also a huge help with the business. When he is home from work he helps me do whatever needs to be done from packing orders to going through emails. Matt is a rockstar.
What keeps you going on the difficult days and drives your inspiration to continue forward?
My family!! My family is a huge motivation for me, my son gives me the biggest smiles and biggest hugs which makes difficult days so much easier. There are times you just have to set your phone and computer down and focus on what matters most to you – and for me, that is my family.
See more of Betsy + her inspiring session with Allison Corrin Photography here.