Imagine sitting in your college entrepreneurship class and getting assigned a project to create your own startup business. Now, imagine that school project turning into a mission that, to date, has raised close to $1 million for children with cancer and their families
It’s a hard concept for most of us to wrap our melons around, but for Zachary Quinn and Brian Keller this is their reality.
These co-creators of Love Your Melon (LYM) began production in October 2012 with the mission of giving a hat to every child in America who is suffering from cancer. Roughly 45,000 children are undergoing cancer treatment, and 15,000 children are given a new diagnosis each year. Exceeding their entrepreneurship professor’s expectations, Quinn and Keller started trekking to colleges all across the country to sell their hats. For every hat sold, one would be donated to a child, fulfilling the LYM mission.
With raving success, Love Your Melon has now sold over 65,000 hats with no sign of slowing sales, as well as created partnerships with CureSearch and the Pinky Swear Foundation through which 50% of LYM’s net proceeds are donated. Due to this high level of support, Love Your Melon has surpassed its original goal of 45,000 hats and has become an internationally known apparel brand run by over 7,500 college students across the country at over 500 different schools.
Recently, the Jags hopped on board the Love Your Melon train thanks to founding IUPUI campus ambassador, Olivia Anderson. Anderson shed some light on how she became involved and what being an LYM ambassador is all about:
“...[A]n ambassador from Ball State came into the store I work in with a Love Your Melon beanie on. I love beanies to begin with, and I saw the little "Love Your Melon" leather patch and I was curious what it meant...She started to tell me all about it and mentioned the website. When I got home, I decided to look it up to find out more information. The Love Your Melon website...offer[s] all the details about where/how they're made! Which is something I was concerned with because I wanted it to be ethical...I eventually came across the ambassador page and saw that IUPUI didn't have a crew established yet and I really couldn't pass it up. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer last summer which was really difficult to deal with. I've always been passionate about raising money and donating to cancer awareness, and LYM was a way for me to do just that while brightening a child's smile. Who could say no to that? So I applied to become an ambassador.”
IUPUI established its campus crew under Anderson’s leadership on Dec. 10, 2015. Crew members earn “credits” from selling LYM products. The more merchandise IUPUI ambassadors sell, the more credits they accumulate, which in turn opens up new opportunities to host donation events and/or create experiences for children battling cancer. Anderson explains,
“In order to have donation events like visiting family, homes, or hospitals, we have to earn so many credits. One LYM item sold = one credit...A donation event happens after 100 credits are earned...That's why we are so excited to have our first donation event, it took a little less than two months to achieve! I'm actually really happy with that, LYM at IUPUI has already made a huge impact and I can't wait for it to continue to grow!”
Love Your Melon donation events entail campus crew’s dressing up in superhero costumes and hand-delivering beanies to children with cancer. As further credits are accumulated, campus crews can unlock an array of different experiences for children--from concerts to helicopter rides.
I reached out to Caleb Hatchett, who was diagnosed with stage 4 bone cancer in 2013 and, despite his struggles, remains extremely humble and stays supporting LYM.
“...[W]hile in the hospital, they would bring in care packages for all the cancer patients. In one of these packages, I received my very first Love Your Melon hat...I fell in love with their products and mission. Some of my oncology nurses and I decided to go on a spending spree and gear up with Love Your Melon apparel. Due to the fact that I am temporarily hairless, I obviously am partial to the beanies!”
Caleb says that since he and his friends have started buying LYM products, they haven’t stopped! He says LYM is “Both inspiring and helpful.”
It’s people like Caleb who shed light on the amazing things Love Your Melon is capable of, and I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t mind hooking some cancer patients up with beanies and helicopter rides.
Keep up with Caleb’s amazing story here, and here’s what you can do to help:
BUY THE MERCHANDISE TO HELP IUPUI’S CAMPUS CREW ACCUMULATE CREDITS!
If you’re a newbie to the LYM scene, this is what you need to know:
Marissa Bova: What are the average prices of beanies?
Olivia Anderson: Each beanie costs $30 regardless of color or style.
MB: How quickly do beanies usually sell out once they are released?
OA: The beanies and other merchandise offered on the Love Your Melon website sold out within an hour during the last release. [15,000 beanies sold in an hour on Feb. 1.] The release before that on January 18th sold out within 10 minutes! Love Your Melon has become really popular within the last few months...so there's been a pretty high demand for them.
MB: How quickly (typically) are beanies and such released again once they sell out?
OA: After Christmas it took almost a month to restock their website, since then it's been about every two weeks. Love Your Melon puts a lot of care into the knit beanies so it takes a little longer to produce them. Recently, they've added more accessories, shirts and mugs to the website, as well as beanies, so they have been restocking more frequently.
With the next Love Your Melon merchandise sale happening on Monday, February 8th at 6 PM Central Time make sure you pay a visit to www.loveyourmelon.com and claim IUPUI as your school in your shopping cart so you can help put a smile on the face of a child battling cancer.