When Elizabeth Naughton and Amy Huether tested the fabric for their line of sun-protective sportswear, no mannequin would do.
Instead, they donned the mock-ups for the ultimate trial run: outdoor tennis practice in July.
Wearing their skin-covering sportswear as they practiced for a national-level tennis competition with a women’s team from Tucson Country Club, they got some weird looks. But they found the fabric to use for their line, Uvida Sportswear.
When Uvida launched its first pieces in October at the Angel Charity for Children’s Shop the City event, Naughton and Huether could say from experience that the sleek tops do more than wick away sweat. The fabric has ultraviolet protection factor 50+ that repels UV rays when sunscreen just won’t cut it anymore.
Naughton and her husband, Frank, developed Uvida along with Amy and her husband, Michael, a dermatologist and skin cancer surgeon. The families spend hours in the sun, playing tennis and golf, hiking, biking and running. Even slathered with sunscreen, they still noticed skin damage.
“I was looking for sun-protective clothing to wear, but there weren’t a lot of options,” Naughton, 46, says.
So far, they have two tops for women on the market. Both are long-sleeved with thumb holes to protect the tops of your hands. Naughton worked with local designer Jeremy Barney to measure more than 20 Tucson women of different weights and heights to make sure the tops fit real women properly. For each woman, Barney took about 20 measurements.
“I know my friends really well now,” Naughton jokes.
Naughton’s 13-year-old daughter is tall — just brushing 6 feet — and plays volleyball. Gleaning from the experience of her daughter and some taller women on the tennis team, Naughton realized how frustrating it can be to have activewear that doesn’t quite fit.
“If you’re 6 feet tall and playing tennis and serving, you don’t want to lift your arm up to reveal your torso,” Naughton says. “Beautiful, tall women can have a hard time finding clothing that fits right, but we also wanted it (to work) for more petite women.”
Naughton and her partners wanted the clothing to be practical but pretty for a variety of activities. Right now, they have tops in bright blue, purple and pink along with classic black and white.
In the spring, they plan to introduce another design and several new colors. Lines for men and children are also on the drawing board, depending on the growth of the business. Naughton hopes to reach out to Phoenix country clubs and dermatologists about selling Uvida soon.
She has already seen Uvida Sportswear out and about in Tucson, while participating in a 5,000-meter run with her daughter at Reid Park over Thanksgiving weekend.
“My daughter saw someone wearing one of my shirts and ran up to her all excited,” Naughton says. “To actually see it in the community was cool.”