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Maine company helps frontline workers during the pandemic while protecting others year-round

Swimlids owner recognized by Small Business Administration for being 2020 Maine Woman-Owned Business of the Year
Credit: Swimlids

SACO, Maine — The Small Business Association postponed National Small Business Week due to the coronavirus pandemic but NEWSCENTER Maine believes small businesses need assistance now more than ever.

One small business in Maine started to protect people from the sun’s damaging rays and now their protection is helping in a different way. 

Swimlids in Saco started in 2014 after owner Karen Gellis' daughter received a sun rash while vacationing in the hot Florida sun. Gellis gave her daughter a baseball cap to wear, which got soaked after she went in-and-out of the water.

Gellis, a swimmer, put her swim cap over the baseball hat, and the idea was born. 

“That night I went to Target and I bought a nylon swim cap and a baseball hat, and my mom helped me create my first prototype,” said Gellis.

From the Original Swimlid to the Funky Bucket or other face shields and rash guards, Swimlids offers UPF 50+ products for women, men, and children during active watersports.

A local banker nominated Gellis and Swimlids for an award through the U.S. Small Business Administration, and Gellis received word from the Maine SBA she won the 2020 Woman Owned Small Business of the Year in Maine.

A recognition Gellis can bask in during a dark time when wholesale orders have been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s pretty cool to be recognized like that," said Gellis. "Especially now, it’s really, really challenging for small business owners, and my heart breaks for so many of them but it feels awesome to be recognized for sure.”

Products continue to change at Swimlids with customer input. Its headband line changed recently, after receiving emails from nurses with an interesting request.

“We gather people locally to help us sew buttons on them," said Gellis. “We’ve been donating those to nurses that have sent us an email… so the masks don’t hurt their ears.”

Swimlids does also have face masks and face protections in addition to the product line.

May is skin cancer awareness month, and as we start emerging from our homes to get on the water, Swimlids will be keeping you cool and protected as the Maine weather starts to heat up.

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