In Conversation: Scrubbing up to the challenge

Friday, 09 April, 2021

In Conversation: Scrubbing up to the challenge

When Van Nguyen graduated and became a registered nurse, she struggled to find good-quality scrubs locally. The scrubs that were available lacked comfort, style and functionality.

Van is a critical care nurse at Sunshine Hospital, one of the busiest emergency departments (EDs) in the west of Melbourne. Together with her sister Linh, Van founded Scrub Lab to solve her scrub woes.

“My research led me to realise that there was a gap in the Australian market and that healthcare workers like me were paying way too much just for shipping in order to obtain decent quality scrubs from overseas,” Van said. “With this in mind, I approached my sister Linh, and we realised there was an opportunity for us to make a change.

“Being a frontline worker in the ED, all I really wanted was some stylish, functional and comfortable scrubs that would enable me to show up every day, feeling good about what I do and how I looked.”

Van and Linh wanted their scrubs to be functional, flattering and comfortable for healthcare professionals to wear during long shifts, with more pockets being essential.

“I couldn’t put up with how non-attractive my scrubs were — sometimes it felt like a chore having to put them on for work. I envisioned something creative, colourful and fun.”

Van explained that her mother is a very talented seamstress, who was able to bring the sisters’ prototype to life.

“The amount of interest I received after wearing my prototype to work was overwhelming. It confirmed to us that there really was a need for premium-quality scrubs that were functional and stylish, and hence Scrub Lab was born!”

Scrub Lab’s range is available in different colours and styles, so that healthcare professional look good and feel good when they put them on. To set them apart from competitors, Scrub Lab’s fabrics are engineered to have antimicrobial, anti-wrinkle and super soft qualities, with four-way stretch.

Scrub Lab has seen exponential growth in response to the shifting apparel choices of healthcare workers nationally in response to the pandemic.

“The pandemic caused a shockwave through the healthcare system. It made us more aware and more vigilant in regards to infection control — we were now fighting an invisible enemy. So, for us to go to work and come home during the pandemic was a big risk for our families. We didn’t want to carry it home, so the demand for scrubs increased. Everyone — including occupational therapists, physiotherapists and admin staff for example — was encouraged to change from casual clothes to scrubs and started wearing them instead of their own uniform.”

Professor Declan Murphy, Director Of Robotic Surgery at Peter MacCallum Cancer Research Centre in Melbourne, is one such professional ditching his ’suit and tie’ uniform for a more comfortable scrub. Dr Murphy stumbled upon Scrub Lab by chance.

“One of Dr Murphy’s colleagues was wearing our scrubs and he thought they looked great, so he approached us to buy some scrubs for himself,” Van said. “He was blown away at how comfortable and well fitted they were. His exact comment that he left on our website was, ‘Fantastic. Great fit, handy pockets, easy wash with no ironing’.”

Scrub Lab has had numerous reviews and emails from happy customers, who really appreciate that there is now an Australian brand they can buy from that provides them with comfortable and stylish scrubs.

Van said, “The most outstanding thing for us would be our material and how it is ultrasoft. Our customers like our designs and definitely the colours. It’s a game changer and gets them excited to go to work.”

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