What were you doing when you were a senior in high school? Probably not creating a line of sun-safe activewear that caught the attention of two big-deal television co-hosts.
“In my opinion, one of the best and most unique things about our brand is the story of how it came to be,” says Ashton Gillespie of SKGirl, a company she started with her mom that has been named one of Kathie Lee and Hoda’s favorite things.
Ashton, a senior at Hockaday, spent countless beach trips embarrassed by the long-sleeved turtleneck swim shirts her father made her wear to protect her fair skin from the sun. So she decided to make something she would feel more confident wearing.
SKGirl is designed for surfing, swimming, running, walking or yoga. “Or you can just look active and chic running errands,” says co-founder Ashton Gillespie.
During a family trip to Sea Island, Georgia, the high schooler shared her idea with the family. Her mother, Amity, has more than 15 years of design experience, so the two spent a year tossing around ideas before settling on a design they both loved. The name is short for “sun-kissed girl.”
The line is UPF 50, which differentiates it from everyday rash guards or long-sleeved shirts. With that ultraviolet protection factor, the tops and jackets effectively shield skin from damaging ultraviolet rays. And, unlike sunscreen, the clothes block UVB as well as UVA rays.
SKGirl activewear is designed for all kinds of activities: surfing, swimming, running, walking or yoga. “Or you can just look active and chic running errands or going to class at SMU — all while being sun safe,” Ashton says.
The fashion-forward, made-in-the-USA clothing is a far cry from the embarrassing tops of Ashton’s childhood. And each piece is named after a place the family has visited, for a personal touch.
The St. Tropez top, with high neckline and long sleeves for maximum sun protection, has flattering ruching on the sides. Unzip it slightly for a fun peek-a-boo look with a colorful bikini underneath, or pair it with a miniskirt for errand day. The Phuket top is another favorite, with a fashionable mandarin collar and flattering keyhole neckline.
Prices range from $50-$145, and you can purchase the activewear on the SKGirl website or during a trunk show at places like Exhale Spa or Cabana. For information about upcoming trunk shows, visit the SKGirl Facebook page.
This journey has not only been the start of a great business, but it has also served as some serious mother-daughter bonding time. Amity says she’s forever thankful for this brand that turned her and her daughter into best friends and business partners.
“I hope every time someone wears an SKGirl product, she remembers it was created through the journey of discovery and healing, in the spirit of true love, growth and faith,” she says.
Use the promo code “culturemap” and get 15 percent off during the months of June and July.