Sharane Dorrah is on a mission … A passionate hiker, mountain biker, skier, and general outdoors enthusiast who suffered years of debilitating illness due to the unfortunate bite of a Lyme-infected tick, Sharane is determined to ensure that the rest of the world avoid her nightmare through greater awareness and protection.
The company she launched this past year, Peskys, offers fashionable performance activewear instilled with an EPA-approved insect repellent to ward off a wide range of “pesky” bugs that can carry serious diseases. Sharane explains, “Sounds dramatic, I know… [but] I’m on a mission to save lives by giving a fashionable option for protection against bites from those pesky bugs that can carry not only Lyme, but also Zika, West Nile, and all those other ‘bug diseases.’ I’m opening my big mouth and creating awareness. And I’m donating protective clothing and other items to children because they are the most at risk for some of these diseases.”
Sharane’s tactics are intriguing. Certainly the spread and the number of serious diseases like Lyme, Zika, and West Nile have forced the issue into the minds of more people; and yet, apprehension or lack of enthusiasm about the preventive tools available — such as chemical sprays, seemingly excessive coverup or avoidance tactics, etc. — mean that far too many of us who love the outdoors remain at risk. Enter this new concept: “performance apparel reinvented into sophisticated style options that meet the demands of day-to-day urban and outdoor active living. Pesky’s insect repellent apparel options perform equally well on the hiking trail as they do pool-side, at the farmer’s market, or in the backyard. They’ll ward off the worst of the season’s mosquitoes and ticks, but they do it without sacrificing style.”
Sharane adds: “The [odorless] treatment has been tested, proven, and EPA- registered, to repel mosquitoes, ticks, ants, fleas, chiggers, flies, and midges (otherwise known as no-see-ums).” The underlying ingredient is permethrin, also used to get rid of lice and fleas on both pets and humans, and approved by the EPA since 1979. The proprietary application process, perfected by InsectShield, binds the treatment so tightly to the fabric that it lasts 70 washes. Insect Shield repellent apparel is used by a wide range of other lifestyle brands, workwear distributors, the US military, and international relief organizations around the globe to provide protection against insects and the diseases they carry.
The idea, like most great ideas, came from a very personal use case. Finally (after years of crippling illness) well enough to visit a good friend in Colorado, Sharane prepared to head out on a long-awaited hike by spraying herself down with an over-the-counter spray repellent. Repulsed by the messy, smelly, toxic experience, she determined that there must be a better way and began researching. There were insect-repellent clothing options available but “none that suited my taste.” And so she began to wonder, What if…? What if she could create a line that looked more like what she already wears but that had the same repellent features? And what if that line could become a vehicle for creating greater awareness about these potentially life-changing diseases like Lyme? “Talking about Lyme disease is not sexy, talking about disease is not sexy. But fashion is an avenue to bring the issue to the table. I’m not a doctor or a scientist, but this is a way I can help support the conversation,” she explained. Seemed just crazy enough that it might work.
Several months later and the “crazy idea” indeed seems to be working… The first line, a soft launch, was unveiled this past Fall. It features a mix of “essentials,” both tops and bottoms that can be worn to yoga, out for a hike, or to the market after a workout. The intention is to feel out the market, collect feedback, and prepare for the larger launch this Spring 2017. The Spring line will include an expansion of lifestyle offerings and a portion of every sale goes to the company’s charitable programs. Some day, Sharane hopes to offer childrenswear, knowing that children aged 5-14 are at greatest risk for diseases like Lyme, but for now they are targeted through the give-back program and the company’s efforts to increase public awareness.
And already there has been great reception to the product. Happy customers have shared that they “didn’t know repellent clothing was an option!” and that the clothes were “loose, comfortable, and packable — perfect for vacation!” Perhaps most pointedly on the mark was one recovering patient who gleefully tweeted her satisfaction that, having restored her confidence with her new Peskys outfit, she “was finally able to go out again!”
In light of this early success and as we all look forward to the Spring launch, we asked Sharane about her hopes for the endeavor and what messages might she want to share with the community.
“First, a huge thank you to all the Lyme warriors in the trenches, to all those who have been laboring long before anyone began listening, to the doctors and caregivers who were brave and stuck their necks out to help patients like me.
“Second, a plea that we all try to work together and collaborate. It is by unifying our voices that we will impact real change.
“For the patient community, I urge patience in your healing journey. Recovery from Lyme and tick-borne disease is a marathon. Our bodies not only have a pathogen to fight but often have suffered years of damage from the disease. So, we need to be diligent, but also patient, as we recover from the damage. [In my experience], the most effective treatments involve a full body approach (attack the pathogens, detox, and support the body for healing). You also should always trust your gut. We don’t have all the answers. If something doesn’t feel right, trust it, … talk to your doctors.
“Lastly, know that healing IS possible. I was extremely sick. Truly, I wasn’t sure I was going to get well. But we have to never give up hope. There are many ways to healing.”
Peskys insect repellent clothing can be found online at peskys.com. Watch for more news about their upcoming launch in early 2017. For more about the technology, visit partner company InsectShield. You can learn more about Sharane’s Lyme journey in our Lyme Stories feature.
Images courtesy of Sharane Dorrah and Peskys.