Associated Press
A model shows off a swimsuit that is part of the lineup created by Judy Tolman for her company.

POCATELLO, Idaho — A Pocatello woman has created a swimwear company that designs and produces swimsuits that allow women to reduce their exposure to the sun but still look good.

"The goal is for women to feel comfortable and confident in their swimsuits while protecting their beautiful skin," says Judy Tolman, a Gate City mother of four who has started a company called Sun Safe Swimwear.

She calls it an idea whose time has come. Tolman says she decided to be more "sun safe" last year after a close friend came down with skin cancer.

"That really was the catalyst," says Tolman, 35. "I wanted to find something that was safe to wear in the sun but still pretty and feminine."

Her search for that type of swim outfit met a dead end.

"I didn't find anything," Tolman says.

Sun-safe outfits were available, she adds, but "they just weren't very attractive at all. They were purely functional, but they were not made to look good."

After being disappointed in the swimsuit options for women who want to cover their shoulders, chest and back, she decided to create her own line of swimwear.

She says most skin cancer is preventable, and 90 percent of cases are associated with sun exposure.

"It's one of those cancers that, if we take precautions, we can prevent it," she says. "But women aren't going to take those precautions if they look ridiculous. They aren't going to wear it."

Tolman's grandmother taught her to sew at the age of 12, she worked on an assembly line for a few years in a sewing factory, and she has designed a fair amount of her own clothes over the years.

Tolman, a former Murray, Utah, resident, started working on her new line of swimwear by sketching a design, creating a pattern and then putting it into fabric and sewing it.

"I went through lots of prototypes before I came up with my first design," she says. "They saw me in the fabric store a lot."

According to Tolman, with her swimwear, comfortable shorts replace the skimpy bottoms most swimsuits have under them.

And with a stitch down the seam, the skirts won't float up when you get in the water.

"These are the swimsuits you can actually get wet in and still look great," states her company's Web site, "Active women finally have the swimsuit that can effortlessly go from water to sand to trail to boat."

The Web site features four different swimwear options, the Beth, Stacy, Nickole and Annie swimsuits. They are modeled by two Pocatello mothers, Susan and Stacy Maynard. The photos were shot by local photographer Nema Blanchard near the Portneuf River or at Maynard's house.

People can start ordering the swimsuits via the company's Web site on Dec. 25. The swimsuits are under production in China and will be stored in a warehouse in Nampa.

Tolman is starting out with 2,000 swimsuits, but will increase the order if they sell fast enough. She says that she tried to get them manufactured in the United States, but couldn't find a company that would take that small of an order.

Her ultimate goal is to have them manufactured and warehoused in Pocatello.