Sue Callaway wants to turn your doctor into a fashion plate.
The 37-year-old nurse-turned-entrepreneur is the founder of a Santee-based retailer of colorful, printed scrubs--kickier versions of the plain, conservatively hued garb that is the profession's de rigueur.
Like a number of retailers aiming to spruce up the profession, Callaway's company--S.C.R.U.B.S. ("Simply Comfortable Really Unique Basic Scrubs") sells via catalog. But she also operates an expanding network of retail stores, including mall locations in Tustin and Ontario.
By the end of this year, she expects she'll have 15 or 16 stores nationally, compared with four last December. And she expects to post revenue of $25 million this year, up from $14 million last year. "This definitely is a big year for growth," Callaway says.
Callaway got the idea for the business 10 years ago, while working as a nurse in San Diego. A seamstress, she made some colorful scrubs for herself. Fellow nurses admired them and placed orders. She launched a catalog business in 1992 and opened her first store in Santee three years later.
Her best-selling item? A $23 cotton top that, like the rest of her line, comes in a range of colors and demure prints. Popular patterns include the underwater "Seascape" of tropical fish and the kid-friendly "Angel Bears." She also sells pants, jackets, tops and surgical hats; socks, shorts and baseball caps for fun; and a line of kids' clothing.
Most medical professionals still wear the old traditional standby uniforms (some hospitals won't allow anything else, she says). But she says people outside the profession might like them too. "They're really great to travel in. They pack well--and are comfortable for airplanes."
Barbara Marsh covers health care for The Times. She can be reached at (714) 966-7762 and at firstname.lastname@example.org.