The story of how a cancer researching hockey goalie set up an online hat store with his wife Claire, who are about to become parents and move to Chicago …
One feels if you wrote Tristan Clemons’ story into a film script, the producer would laugh you out the door.
‘So, let me get this straight … this chisel-featured Kookaburras star is also a cancer researcher, who has found a position to work in Chicago to work at a world-renowned research centre, and he also runs an online clothing store to protect against the sun, and he and his wife are about to have their first child?
Well, all of this is true, and more.
Still only 30, the man in question is part research scientist, athlete, coach, small business owner, marriage celebrant, husband and soon to be a Dad.
Earlier this year he also won a Business News 40 under 40 award and took out the Intrapreneurial and People’s Choice categories to boot.
When it comes to all these achievements, he knows it’s a team effort.
“Without Claire’s keen eye for detail and total support there is no way we could have grown Get Flapped to where it is today,” Tristan told Startup News.
“I mean she is letting me move our lives to Chicago and a 6 week old baby from +30 in Perth summer to possibly -20 in Chicago winter. She is truly a gem.”
He gets a kick out of two things: solving problems and helping people.
“I love solving problems … from jigsaw puzzles right through to serious problems like my research which is tackling how we currently treat cancer.
“The second is helping people, if I boil it down this is what drives my business, Get Flapped and essentially drives my research and most things I do.”
Making Hats Great Again
In 2015, the couple established their small online business (www.getflapped.com) with the sole aim of bringing the flap hat back, the humble legionnaires hat with funky prints and designs they set out to make the hat cool again.
Tristan believes sun protection has this bad wrap in that most of the products available to protect your skin from the harsh UV of the sun are daggy or made from ugly prints or designs.
“We wanted to make a sun smart product which was functional in protecting you from the sun but also looked good; [one that] people and kids actually wanted to wear.
“All our hats are UPF 50+ the highest sun protection rating available for clothing possible by the Australian standard.”
Taking the fight against cancer to the nano level
Away from Get Flapped Tristan is a full time research scientist, working on new biomaterials for the delivery of therapeutics to treat a range of major diseases and injuries including cancer and burn injuries.
“Essentially, my research involves the development of tiny nanoparticles, one thousand times smaller than the width of a human hair.
“We engineer these particles to pack a whole lot of function so we can carry drugs with them, see where they are going in the body and then even target them to go in to specific cell types.
“For example, with cancer we can load chemotherapeutics within the nanoparticle and target this directly to cancerous cells, with the aim of avoiding healthy cells and in turn the nasty side affects associated with chemotherapy we currently see today.
“Scientific research is an exciting place to work in that I get to have my own ideas, and challenge myself to work on big problems which are affecting society. I find it deeply rewarding.”
Sweet (new) Home Chicago
His passion for this work is soon to take Tristan, Claire and new baby to the US to continue his research at Northwestern University in Chicago a move which has resulted in him having to give up one of his ‘other’ loves – hockey.
Tristan was a member of the Australian Men’s Field Hockey Team, the Kookaburras, for the past seven years and has recently retired to pursue his research career full time.
“I have been incredibly lucky to have travelled the world and represent my country through hockey, experiences I will never forget but the timing was right and I am excited about seeing how the Kookaburras continue with the new guys coming through.”
“I feel I was a better hockey player because of my science and a better scientist because of my hockey, they really complemented each other so I was lucky to do both for so long”.
In the US Tristan hopes to do a little bit of coaching to continue to stay involved with the game.
So what does the future hold?
“Well the back half of 2018 includes setting up a new website and warehouse management system for Get Flapped, moving and getting set up in the US, and Claire and I are expecting our first baby in November which we are thrilled about.”
“So we have a few things going on but that’s exciting, I am hopeful once we get settled we might be able to grow the business some more into the US market and see what that potential holds for us.”
FEATURE IMAGE: Tristan and Claire’s wedding in 2016, with those hats!
For more on Get Flapped, and to order some funky sun hats, visit their website.