We had the good fortune of connecting with Erica Sullivan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Erica, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I have always been intrigued by entrepreneurship. I loved the idea of finding a need in a community and creating a solution to better the lives of those around me. Sitting in a classroom was always a struggle for me because I had a hard time understanding the practical application of what I was learning. My mind would go off into a whole different universe, and instead of learning fractions in 3rd grade, I was daydreaming of starting a magazine called Spontaneous. I’m not sure how I remember this, but I was the kid that would go home after school and print out a dozen “magazines” complete with an advice column, fashion advice and more. That love and creativity to create transitioned to founding my blog, What the Clique, in 2011 when I was only in the 7th grade.
From an early age, I had the drive to create. I had to sleep with a pen and paper beside my bed in college because I would always wake up in the middle of the night with ideas for a new project. Often, I would pitch these ideas to my then-boyfriend (now fiancé) as we walked to campus for our classes.
In 2019, my mom was diagnosed with malignant melanoma. I remember the call like it was yesterday because it’s the one call you fear the most from a loved one. I jumped into action and did the one thing I knew best, use my creativity to help solve the problem she was facing. After my own skin cancer biopsies and scares, I officially decided to launch Low Ultraviolet (L.U.V.) into action. I assembled a team of talented individuals a million times smarter than myself, and we pitched at Virginia Tech’s entrepreneurship challenge. Within one month, we went from ideation where we got feedback like “this is a cute idea, but you don’t actually expect it to work, right?” to winning a fan favorite award, seed funding and concept validation from those who can relate to the skin cancer community.
L.U.V. was born out of the desire to create safe, fashionable and sustainable UPF 50+ clothing for the large percentage of the market the industry is currently ignoring. After my skin cancer biopsies, I searched high and low to find items on the market that still allowed me to look like a 21-year-old, were comfortable and practical. Furthermore, I wanted to find a community that understood what I was going through because I felt like no one understood what I was going through.
One thing to know about me, I am fiercely protective. When I started building up the L.U.V. community in 2020, I immediately felt so protective over the women in this community like they were my own family. I wanted to be there for them, listen to their stories, and create a community where no one felt alone during their cancer diagnosis. Our community is truly the reason L.U.V. as a company has been so successful.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
In addition to running L.U.V., I also have a full-time job as a marketing coordinator for a prestigious real estate company based in Washington D.C. I love my day-to-day job and the opportunity to learn and expand my knowledge base. Running a company in conjunction with a full-time job comes with it’s struggles at times, however, I have learned so many valuable skills about time management and assembling priorities so that I honor my commitment to both opportunities.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I currently live just outside of Washington, D.C. in Alexandria, Virginia. If my best friend were to visit the area, we would explore the following.
– Walk at Gravelly Point along the Potomac
– Explore Georgetown + get cupcakes and Baked & Wired
– Explore Old Town Alexandria, Farmer’s Market on Saturdays
– Lunch at Vola’s Dockside waterfront in Alexandria
– Tacos at Taco Bamba
– Afternoon at Henway Hard Cider
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The Melanoma Research Foundation for supporting us on our journey. My fiancé (soon to be husband next month) for always having my back and pushing me.
My amazing team member Snigdha for always bringing insight and new ideas to the table.
Instagram: ericansullivan or lowultraviolet