Why Doing Good Is Good Business for Love Your Melon
Love Your Melon transformed from a college class project into a popular American apparel brand that benefits pediatric cancer research. Hear how JPMorgan Chase partnered to help meet their unique needs.
In 2012, friends and classmates Zachary Quinn and Brian Keller were creating a business for a college class project. Being in Minnesota, their first idea was to make stylish beanies that would stand up to the state’s brutally cold winters. But they also wanted to make a difference philanthropically.
When Quinn and Keller learned their local children’s hospital was in need of warm hats for children experiencing hair loss from cancer treatments, a light bulb went off.
“We didn't just want to start a business to make money,” said Quinn, the company’s president. “We wanted to start a business to make an impact on our community and the world around us.”
From there, the cancer-battling mission of Love Your Melon was born
Buy-One, Give-One—and Don’t Stop There
What started as a small local business making winter beanies has grown into a full-blown apparel brand creating high-quality, American-made knitwear for people of all ages around the world. Its ever-growing line of products now includes scarves, mittens, sweaters and blankets.
Initially, Love Your Melon had a buy-one, give-one business model. For every beanie the company sold, it donated one to a child battling cancer. To distribute the donations, Quinn, Keller and the Love Your Melon team hit the road on a nationwide bus tour of children’s hospitals. Through the company’s Campus Crew program, they were joined by college student volunteers who dressed up as superheroes to hand-deliver the beanies to patients.
After selling 45,000 beanies in the first year and a half and providing a hat to every pediatric cancer patient in the US, Love Your Melon shifted its model to donate 50% of net profits to fund pediatric cancer research, family support, and therapeutic experiences for children battling cancer. Today, the company has donated over $6.18 million and over 160,000 of its signature warm beanies to patients worldwide.
Out-of-the-Box Solutions for Rapid Growth
Fueled by a compelling mission and dynamic social media presence, Love Your Melon has grown its annual revenues to $33 million today.
Securing the right financial support to sustain that kind of rapid growth can be a challenge for startups, but Love Your Melon’s CFO, Matthew Noonan, said JPMorgan Chase was an early supporter: “They said, ‘We believe in your mission, we believe in your company, we're going to help support you to get you where you need to go.’ Without that relationship, we never would be where we are today.”
Part of the support that JPMorgan Chase provided was to customize a credit structure to be as unique as Love Your Melon’s business. One of the company’s major challenges is seasonality, as it sells the majority of its core knit products in the fall and winter months.
“We were able to provide a tailored financing solution that allowed them to build inventory throughout the year to make sure they’re ready for their busy season,” said David Rudolph, Executive Director for JPMorgan Chase Commercial Banking.
Locally Rooted and Internationally Bound
Beyond financial solutions, JPMorgan Chase’s Minneapolis banking team has been able to support Love Your Melon’s exponential growth through a boots-on-the-ground relationship.
“Having a local presence allows us to stay nimble in the solutions that we bring to Love Your Melon,” said Phillip Wiginton, Vice President for JPMorgan Chase Commercial Banking. “There's always going to be the unforeseen with a fast-growing business. Being on call locally when they need something from the bank is what we're able to do.”
Quinn described that local touch has a competitive advantage for his company, helping it grow when and where it needs to. He said, “A lot of banks can provide banking services, but none like the relationship provided by JPMorgan Chase's employees.”
While Love Your Melon continues to grow, with plans for international expansion and new product launches, the apparel maker stays deeply rooted in the community that inspired its products. It’s a proud local job provider, cold-weather outfitter and champion of thousands of Twin Cities cancer patients and families.
“We're very proud to work with a Minneapolis company that’s doing anything they can just to do the right thing,” said Wiginton. “And that's exactly the kind of client that we want at JPMorgan Chase.”