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What the Heck is a Rash Guard?

And why should you buy one? If you grew up in Australia, as Coolibar’s founder did, you already know the answers to these questions. If you didn’t, allow us to explain.

A rash guard is almost always a shirt, specifically one that’s worn in or around water. This might seem strange; after all, we have swim shirts and wraps and beach cover ups that do the same thing, right? But the original Australian rash guard was called a rash guard (or “rashie”) for its ability to protect against rashes.

In the beginning, rash guards were almost exclusively for men. Almost all of these men were surfers and most of the rashes came from chafing – against fast-moving water, or against sand caught in waxed surfboards. These rash guards fit very tightly so they didn’t rub against the skin at all; sometimes people even used them underneath wet suits to protect them from neoprene chafing.

Rash guards were normally fashioned from combinations of polyester, nylon, lycra or spandex for stretch, breathability and quick-drying properties.

All of the above is still true today. But nowadays you don’t have to surf to wear a rash guard (in fact there are specialized rash guards for a variety of sports including baseball).

You don’t have to be a guy, either – women’s rash guards are available in a range of colors and styles.

Do you have kids? Rash guards are also available for children of all ages as well. From babies to teenagers, you can have the entire family in UPF 50+ rash guards!

In fact: you don’t even have to be athletic to wear a rash guard. It helps…but it’s no longer necessary.

Much of this is because many of the “rashes” that today’s rash guards prevent are not caused by surfboards or saltwater or too much body motion. Rash guards today actually guard against the sun’s UV rays – good old-fashioned sunburn.

That means UPF 50+ sun protection. And all of a sudden, a rash guard isn’t so strange after all.

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Inside Coolibar

John Barrow – Entrepreneur of the Year, Upper Midwest

Coolibar President and Founder, John Barrow, was honored to be selected as a finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award and was surprised when his name was called as the winner of the consumer products category.

John thanked the judges for recognizing him among such an esteemed group who are making tremendous changes to improve our world and acknowledged the work and dedication of his team at Coolibar.  John said, “I would like to say thank you to the people at Coolibar.  In truth they are actually a lot more talented than I am. The success of Coolibar, is really your success, and I will forever be in your debt for that.”

Hard work, dedication and collaboration were common themes throughout the evening as Midwest entrepreneurs accepted their awards.  We had a chance to catch up with Mr. Barrow, seeking advice for young entrepreneurs.

1) How hard is it for young entrepreneurs to make their mark in the fashion industry?

I would say it is probably easier than some industries and harder than others.  On the one hand, there are not large barriers to getting into the business in terms of capital or intellectual property.  On the other hand, obtaining access to distribution channels, or building your own, can be a challenge. On the positive side again, it’s a very large, global industry but on the other hand it’s quite price competitive.  So, I don’t think it’s easy but I certainly think it is possible for talented and hard working individuals to make their mark.

2) Normally, what challenges make young entrepreneurs give up?

The biggest issue is probably being able to generate sales of their products.  Another one is obtaining adequate financing for their business.  And finally, I think that the opposite side of the coin of being young is that young entrepreneurs typically don’t have extensive experience or management skills that would help them be more successful in building a business.

3) What is the eligibility criterion or qualification required to make it big in apparel and fashion industry for young entrepreneurs?

I would say the qualifications are parallels to those challenges I mentioned above.  I think young entrepreneurs need a strong vision of their product, they need a lot of energy to work long hours, they need selling/communication skills and enthusiasm to convince people of the attraction/benefit of their product/company, and they need some resilience in their personality to accept some setbacks but still bounce back and follow their vision.

Read the full press release for Mr. Barrow’s award. Watch Mr. Barrow’s acceptance speech below.

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