How Olivia Pavco-Giaccia Is Getting Young Girls Excited About Science

Get to know the founder and CEO of LabCandy

Meet Yale graduate, founder and CEO of LabCandy, and award-winning children’s book author, Olivia Pavco-Giaccia. Oh, and did we mention she’s only 22 years old?

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We chatted with the incredibly inspiring Olivia about what led her to start her own company and her mission to empower young girls to be more involved in STEM and social activism. 

 

Tell us about LabCandy and what inspired you to start the company.

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Summer after my Junior year of High School, I had the opportunity to do research at a neurobiology lab in Stanford University. While I was there, I started a blog called “LabCandy: A Girl’s Guide to Some Seriously Sweet Science.” The purpose of the blog was to show young girls that lab science isn’t scary or intimidating – it’s actually pretty cool.

One day, when I was waiting for an experiment to wrap up, I glued a bunch of rhinestones around the rim of a pair of lab goggles and posted a picture on my blog.

One of our first pairs of goggles.

When I logged on the next day, I was flooded with comments from girls across the country. They wanted to know where they could get their own pair of sparkly goggles! In that moment, I realized that I had unknowingly stumbled across something that these girls were really excited about. I promised to try and make them each a pair, and that’s how LabCandy’s first product was born.

I realized later that the goggles weren’t popular just because they were sparkly. They were popular because they represented a different type of scientist – someone who was fun, and colorful, and relatable, just like the girls who wanted to wear them. LabCandy grew because of that, and we eventually began making lab coats as well as storybooks.

What’s it like being the CEO of your own company?

Here’s the great secret about starting a company: anyone can do it. You don’t have to have a fancy degree or tons of business experience. All it takes is commitment, determination, and a few lucky breaks.

I’m not going to lie – there have definitely been some tough times. I’ve met a lot of people who think that science products for girls is a dumb idea. I even had a potential investor pat me on the head once! But I think that if you are passionate about your business and committed to making it happen, you can find people who will support you. In my case, I’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of people who have helped me make LabCandy a reality. I’ve received support from professors and investors and scientists and seamstresses, and I’m so grateful for all of them.

If you are interested in starting a business, let me know! Comment on one of my videos with your idea and I’ll try to give you a few more specific tips ☺

What prompted you to start a YouTube Channel?

I decided to start a YouTube Channel because I wanted to create a more interactive place where I could talk to girls about cool, science-y stuff. Whether it’s ‘How Beyonce found out about Becky’ (the science of intuition) to ‘8 Scientific Ways to Trick People into Falling in Love With You’ (the psychology of attraction), my videos are all about finding science in the real world. Hopefully you guys enjoy it!

You recently posted a video reacting to mean tweets about women in science – what advice do you have for young girls that are interested in science?

To quote Drake: “I can’t hear the critics talking over the applause.”

There are some people who think that girls aren’t as naturally talented at science as boys. Those people are wrong, and they’re in the minority. These days, there are incredible programs and mentors all over the US that are dedicated to encouraging girls in science. If you are looking for somebody in your area, try checking out The Connectory.

One last piece of advice: don’t get caught in the trap of thinking that science only exists in a lab or a dusty old textbook. Science is everywhere – pop culture, makeup, sports, music, love, even the night sky. If you are ever curious about any of those things, then you have the potential to become a scientist. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

If you’re just as inspired by Olivia’s story as we are, be sure to keep up with her on her YouTube Channel!