SAN ANTONIO - The gold necklace Holly Thaggard wears is engraved with "Sunscreen Queen," a fitting label for the former teacher turned-entrepreneur who's made it her mission to change the way the world thinks about sunscreen.
Thaggard is founder and CEO of Supergoop, a playful name for a serious business she runs out of her sunny offices at the Pearl.
"I think we've made SPF cool," Thaggard said. "Product innovation is at the core of what we are doing."
Supergoop is a line of sun protection products inspired 15 years ago when a friend was diagnosed with skin cancer. He was only 29.
In trying to understand how someone so young could have skin cancer, Thaggard said it struck her that sun damage isn't just about the summer or the beach.
"It's really about that exposure to the UV rays that happens 365 days a year, no matter the season," she said.
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Thaggard thought about her former third grade students on the playground.
"I thought about what healthy habits we're teaching our youth, and wearing sunscreen just wasn't one of them," she said.
So the woman who had set up lemonade stands and other businesses as a kid, set out to change things.
"I realized that product innovation was the only way to change the way the world things about sunscreen and make it part of their every single day routine," Thaggard said.
She found a team of chemists to concoct sunscreen that was free of controversial chemicals. It also had to feel good and be pleasant to wear.
"My initial plan was to put it in schools," Thaggard said.
But her business plan flunked. Sunscreen, considered an over-the-counter medication, was not allowed on most school campuses without a doctor's note.
Thaggard turned to Plan B by using connections she made as a professional harpist playing at country clubs. She was able to peddle her goops at their shops, but it was seasonal and not enough.
"I felt I needed a retail partner that could help tell this story 12 months a year," she said.
When a buyer for Sephora stumbled on Thaggard's products, it was a pivotal moment.
"She literally called the number on the packaging, which was my cellphone," Thaggard said.
Supergoop is now reaching an broader audience, as it's sold at retailers, including Sephora, Nordstrom and Bluemercury. And the line is expanding to include products, such as eye shadow with SPF and a sunscreen that can be misted on top of makeup.
Although Thaggard left the classroom years ago, she's still teaching -- about sun protection. And, she continues to advocate for children, working to change laws to allow sunscreen in more schools.
Texas and 20 other states now have laws that allow sun protection products on campuses.
Through its giving program called Ounce by Ounce, Supergoop is providing free sunscreen to classrooms that request it.
School contacts can make a request by clicking here.
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