Many a genius business idea has been born out of frustration. A deep need for a product or service that simply doesn't yet exist in the ether.
For Lauren Lewis – founder of The Holiday Co. – this couldn’t have been closer to the truth. After a melanoma diagnosis at the age of 18, but with a desire to continue enjoying the sun in style, she sought to create a collection of products that would not only be beautiful and made of natural, breathable fabrics, but would also be sun safe.
However, it wasn’t until later in life – following a particularly creative spark during Easter Hat Parade – that she decided to follow her passion. The result is The Holiday Co. – a remarkable collection that is inspired by the carefree nature of the Australian lifestyle, with versatile pieces that are designed to be layered together to help protect the skin, without compromising style.
We spoke to Lauren about the brand, how she maintains sun safety today, and how she’s making it all work with business and babies.
You were diagnosed with melanoma at the age of 18. Can you talk us through this diagnosis and your subsequent treatment?
Initially, it all started because I had a funny-looking mole on my left shoulder – although I had very long hair so I never actually noticed it. I went to my GP who advised to come back in a month to see if anything had changed with it but my mum knew better and got me into a local dermatologist the same day. At that appointment, Dr Ho, was very quick to say that I would need to go to the Melanoma unit ASAP.
Being 18 I was still oblivious to what was happening and really wasn’t concerned – unlike my mum. But at my next appointment with Dr Thompson, a biopsy was done on the spot. It was just a few days later that my mum got the call that it was melanoma and I would need further surgery. Thankfully they managed to take a clear margin with surgery, which was a relief – but I now have a large scar that is a constant reminder. I was definitely lucky not to need any further treatment other than six-monthly checks. But to this day, I have kept up every single appointment as early detection is key.
How is your health today?
These days I do my best to stay as fit and healthy as I can. I eat well most of the time, exercise regularly and of course, keep my skin covered up from the sun as much as possible.
How has this experience impacted your life on a day-to-day basis today as a mother of two?
While it’s not something I dwell on – my experience with skin cancer at such a young age has definitely made me more conscious as a mum to make sure that I’m not only taking care of my own skin, but that of my children as well. I’m definitely one of those mums who is unwavering in her dedication to slip, slop, slap! I am also super cautious if I’m not well, and make sure I always get checked for everything. My philosophy is that it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Now please talk us through the launch of The Holiday Co - what inspired the launch? (We think we might have a hunch…!)
As long as I can remember, I’ve always loved fashion – and even now, one of my favourite ways to spend my downtime is to browse brands that I love and put together what I consider to be my dream holiday wardrobe by ‘adding to cart’.
But coupled with my interest in fashion has always been this underlying stress about covering up in summer. I’ve always had incredibly pale skin and so was conscious of covering up whenever I was in the sun. But obviously this just became even more of a priority after my skin cancer diagnosis! The Holiday Co. really came about because of my frustration with not being able to cover up and still feel fashionable and comfortable. I used to wrap towels around myself when I was at the beach but when I’m roaming about with the kids, this was not only annoying – but hot and impractical. I knew that I could do better and I was sick of constantly feeling panicked about getting burnt so I decided to design my own cover-ups after realising there was a gap in the market.