Jos Ivison loves sport, particularly golf and tennis. Like most South Africans, she loves spending time outdoors but has realised she needs to protect her skin from harmful sun damage.

 

Over the years Jos tried various ways to keep her skin covered while enjoying doing the outdoorsy things she loves. At first she tried sunblock which is often messy and can discolour your clothes. Then she tried wearing long sleeves under her t-shirt or vest which proved to be hot and cumbersome. Finally, she resorted to UPF sleeves which were either too tight around the upper arms or slipped down to her wrists. Convinced that clothing is the best line of defence against the sun, she came up with the idea to create a supportive sports bra with integrated sleeves that would protect her arms and shoulders from harmful rays.

 

As an accomplished seamstress, Jos sewed herself a prototype which she wore every time she went into the sun. “I soon realised there was nothing else like this on the market so I enlisted the help of my family to perfect the bra fit and develop a sleeve fabric tested to UPF 50. The ultraviolet protection factor of the sleeves was certified by independent laboratory tests and so the very comfortable Brazzi SunBra Light was born,” she states.

 

This innovative underwear is made from a performance stretch fabric with the ability to disperse moisture and allow it to pass through to the fabric’s surface and then evaporate. The Brazzi SunBra can regulate body temperature by drawing moisture away from the skin. The fabric is simultaneously breathable and wickable so wearers stay dry and cool at the same time. The Brazzi is so versatile that it can even be used in colder climates as an added layer for warmth.

 

Jos and her team are busy developing Brazzi SunBra High Impact for those who need more support during more rigorous sports such as running, hockey and horse riding. She says, “If you spend lots of time in the sun, we recommend using one of our sports bras to give you the ultimate protection.”

 

  1. Please give us a summary of your education history and working career/CV:

I went to school in Durban after which I did a secretarial course at Natal Technical College. I worked as a PA also doing layout for a local weekly newspaper before I started working on Brazzi full time.

 

  1. What is your current title within Brazzi and where are your offices based?

I am currently a Director at Brazzi as well as the head seamstress tasked with developing our products and keeping an eagle eye on quality control. Our offices are in Briardene near Durban’s northern suburbs.

 

  1. What does your normal workday look like?

At the outset of Brazzi 2 years ago, I was very focused on the concept and design of our sports bras. Now my responsibilities also include the day-to-day management of the company as well as upliftment of design and ideas for the future.

 

  1. What is your vision for the company?

Our vision is to protect women around the world from harmful UV rays and educate them about the harmful effects of excessive exposure and sun damage. We can do this by partnering with an international supply company who can help us attain this reach.

 

  1. What would you say is the distinguishing factor between Brazzi and industry competitors?

At this stage the Brazzi SunBra doesn’t have any true competitors. There are crop tops in the market place but none that integrate a supportive bra with UV protective sleeves for your arms and shoulders.

 

  1. What do you find most rewarding about your job?

The fact that our product is new and unique makes me both excited and nervous. There is no benchmark out there against which we can measure our progress. Even though it sometimes feels like we’re running down a long dark tunnel of unchartered territory, I find it incredibly rewarding that we can set the standard as we go. Even the smallest triumphs are extremely satisfying.

 

  1. What do you think are the top 3 selling points of Brazzi?
  • UV protection – Our SunBras block out 98% of harmful UVB and UVA rays
  • Quality – We use performance stretch fabrics that keep you cool and dry at the same time
  • Comfort – Our durable but soft SunBras are designed to provide the necessary support while keeping you comfortable

 

  1. What would you say is the biggest challenge that the company faces now?

As a young company, our biggest challenge now is to get our brand and product into the market place to initiate sales. We believe there is a need for our SunBras so it’s a case of building our brand and creating awareness of this fantastic SunBra which every woman should have in her cupboard.

 

  1. What do you love about being part of Brazzi?

I am very proud to say that I was an important part of creating the Brazzi SunBra, a unique product that can protect women from the harmful effects of the sun. Down the line, I look forward to being part of a successful company that I hope will be part of a unified global movement that can turn the tide on things like sun damage and skin cancer. We would love to bring joy to others by giving them the freedom to spend time outdoors doing the things they love to do with total peace of mind.

 

  1. What have been the biggest challenges and opportunities of this being a start-up business?

Our greatest opportunity is working with a unique concept or product that has never been done before. The feedback we have received has been hugely positive and we hope that the sales will reflect the same as there are no benchmarks to measure our progress with. Marketing and product promotion are currently our main focus to give the brand some legs and create awareness around our product.

 

  1. How important is it to you that Brazzi is a proudly SA company?

We love the fact that Brazzi was conceptualised and developed in South Africa! The very idea of it stems from the wonderful outdoor culture we enjoy and so that makes what we do extra special. Our Australian branch would say the same though….

 

  1. If applicable, name some of the company highlights since you’ve been involved (including sales, awards, etc.)?

The delivery of our first stock in March, both here and in Australia, was received with a clink of glasses.

 

  1. Do you have any personal or business achievements you’re proud of? Please elaborate on when, what, why, etc.

I am very proud of my family who are running the Australian branch of Brazzi without the day-to-day assistance of the local team. It’s been an eye opener for them, particularly my son Chad who has been forced out of his corporate comfort zone to run this business down under.

 

  1. What do you feel are the latest trends in sports bras and active wear these days?

These days sports bras come with excellent support and bright vivid colours to suit all tastes. There are also more options available to the larger ladies as well as special bras for high impact sports such as horse-riding, hockey and running. We are hoping that Brazzi Sun Bras will be the start of a new trend that will see the development and uptake of sports bras with sun protection sleeves.

 

  1. How often do you travel for business and where to?

My travels consist of very enjoyable weekly forays down the fairways of Durban’s many wonderful golf courses and running cross court at tennis.

 

  1. Do you have any talents/tricks that people don’t know about?

I am handy with a sewing machine! When my children were young I would sew a range of clothes and hold open days to sell them. I also sewed for John Orrs, which was in Musgrave Centre at the time. I enjoy baking and making fun handbags which I give to friends as gifts. I am in the process of writing a children’s book on South Africa as a memento to my grandchildren in the UK and Australia. I also love interior design.

 

  1. Your family has been integral to the creation of Brazzi. Tell us a little more about how it works?

The whole family is involved in one way or another with Brazzi. My son Chad and his wife Rachel run the Australian Brazzi. My daughter Kate and her husband Michael assist with our social media. My husband Ian runs By Jos Designs which is the company that produced Brazzi. We are all so passionate about the brand and are enjoying this journey working together as a family.

 

  1. Who is your role model and why?

Sara Blakely, the American businesswoman and founder of Spanx, is my role model. She also started a brand and produced a product that was unique and new to the underwear market with no benchmarks. I draw inspiration from her story and her success.

 

  1. Where do you currently live?

Mount Edgecombe Country Club Estate, Durban

 

 

  1. What is YOUR SPICE4LIFE?

Brazzi Sun Bra is My Spice4life, which entails being part of a brand that originated from the need to protect my arms from sun exposure whilst playing sport, to becoming involved with the Skin Cancer Foundation and finding that it can be used to help protect people fighting skin cancer in their everyday life.

 

  1. How did you do it?

Over the years Jos tried various ways to keep her skin covered while enjoying doing the outdoorsy things she loves. At first she tried sunblock which is often messy and can discolour your clothes. Then she tried wearing long sleeves under her t-shirt or vest which proved to be hot and cumbersome. Finally, she resorted to UPF sleeves which were either too tight around the upper arms or slipped down to her wrists. Convinced that clothing is the best line of defense against the sun, she came up with the idea to create a supportive sports bra with integrated sleeves that would protect her arms and shoulders from harmful rays.  As an accomplished seamstress, Jos sewed herself a prototype which she wore every time she went into the sun. “I soon realized there was nothing else like this on the market so I enlisted the help of my family to perfect the bra fit and develop a sleeve fabric tested to UPF 50. The ultraviolet protection factor of the sleeves was certified by independent laboratory tests and so the very comfortable Brazzi SunBra Light was born,” she states.  

 

  1. What were your challenges?

As a young company, our biggest challenge now is to get our brand and product into the market place to initiate sales. We believe there is a need for our SunBras so it’s a case of building our brand and creating awareness of this fantastic SunBra which every woman should have in her cupboard.

 

  1. What keeps you going?

 Joslyn says “I am very proud to say that I was an important part of creating the Brazzi SunBra, a unique product that can protect women from the harmful effects of the sun. Down the line, I look forward to being part of a successful company that I hope will be part of a unified global movement that can turn the tide on things like sun damage and skin cancer”. They would love to bring joy to others by giving woman the freedom to spend time outdoors doing the things they love to do with total peace of mind.

 

  1. What advice would you give to others who want to follow?

Advice to others by Joslyn Ivison: Once you go ahead and make the huge decision to run with your dream, be aware that it’s not going to happen overnight, be open to all options, and before you know it you may be heading off in a direction you had never planned, but which lead to amazing opportunities.

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