From School Teacher to Supergoop!
LSU Graduate Takes SPF Awareness to Schools07/05/2018
BATON ROUGE - Holly Thaggard always wanted to be a teacher. After graduating from LSU in 1993 with a degree in education, she started her career path in the classroom, teaching third graders in Baton Rouge.
“I did that for only one year. I loved teaching, but I wasn't sure the classroom was quite right for me,” said Thaggard.
She then decided to pursue her love of music. Thaggard plays the piano and the harp and spent most of her 20s performing.
“And then, when a friend of mine was diagnosed with skin cancer, I had this ah-ha moment that the skincare category was very sleepy. The industry was ripe for product innovation and in need of widespread education for manufactures and consumers alike,” Thaggard said.
At the same time, another friend of Thaggard’s who was in residency in medical school and in the process of becoming a dermatologist, shared more information with her about skin cancer.
“What I learned is that the little bit of sun exposure we all experience every single day, can result in skin cancer later on in life. And yet very few people wear SPF every single day. I reflected back to my time in the classroom, and thought, it’s so true -- even though the kids are outside at peak hours of the day, at lunch time and after-school sports, never once did I see a tube of sunscreen on our school campus. This was obviously not a healthy habit that teachers or parents were teaching their children.”
That’s when Thaggard got to work, starting Supergoop!.
“In a way, if I had not had such a strong background in teaching and wasn’t able to later reflect on the year I spent in the classroom, I don’t think Supergoop! would exist today,” said Thaggard. “My year in the classroom inspired me to want to change the way the world thinks about sunscreen.”
Thaggard’s initial Supergoop! business model was focused on developing formulas that were skin-compatible, full of healthy ingredients and felt good on the skin.
“Often times people associate sunscreen with a texture that isn’t pleasant and not enjoyable. So, I set out to disrupt the current SPF market in 2007 by creating feel-good formulas that people would want to wear every single day. My original plan was to go into school classrooms and provide Supergoop! to children, similar to how schools provide hand soap in the cafeterias.”
But she said she quickly learned the majority of United States public schools don’t allow SPF without a doctor’s note because it is considered an over-the-counter drug.
“I spent a few years trying to share the product with private schools. It became clear that it was going to be difficult to scale and that a shift toward retail was a better way to first build the brand. And it really wasn’t until recently that we came full circle in launching Ounce by Ounce, which is our giving program to put SPF into schools across America. With hard work over the past few years, we’ve been able to give back and help advocate for a change in state laws to allow SPF in schools. We’re up to 13 states in the U.S. that now allow SPF without a doctor’s note. I’m proud that my career trajectory has come full circle and that through Supergoop! I’m able to help put SPF in classrooms and teach good SPF habits to children at a young age when sun protection is most critical.”
In addition to working on Ounce by Ounce, Thaggard spends her time working with her research and development team, traveling between the Supergoop! offices in San Antonio and New York City, and speaking to consumers.
“I wouldn’t be here today without that degree in education because I wouldn’t have had the insight to understand and be inspired to think about what we teach our youth,” said Thaggard. “The reason people today aren’t wearing SPF everyday is because they weren’t taught the habit at age three, four, five, six. I believe that if you’re old enough to hold your toothbrush, you’re old enough to put on your SPF every single day. I’m still teaching, I just have a much larger audience than what I initially thought I was going to school to do.”
Contact Rachel Holland
LSU Media Relations
More news and information can be found on LSU’s media center, www.lsu.edu/mediacenter.