Class: Class of 2016
Intended Major: Cognitive Science
Hometown: Washington, D.C.
This week’s Her Campus celeb, Olivia Pavco-Giacca, is not only a successful entrepreneur, but also a talented musician and science enthusiast! Having started her own company just a few years ago, Olivia has been taking the world by storm with her Lab Candy. A sophomore from DC, Olivia seems to always be doing something interesting, including supporting her favorite baseball team. HerCampus was able to sit down with Olivia this morning and find out more about her busy schedule and interesting projects. Read below to hear all about Olivia’s work with children’s books, her creative passions, and more fun—and surprising—fun facts!
Favorite food: Mac and cheese
Favorite iPhone app: Pocket Potions
Favorite New Haven Restaurant: Kitchen Zinc
Favorite class at Yale: Himalayan Language and Cultures
Last movie you watched: Frozen
Favorite study spot: Sterling
Celeb crush: Bryce Harper (plays for the Washington Nationals)
HC: What are you involved in on campus?
Olivia: I play in the Yale Symphony Orchestra and am a member of a Cello rock group called “Low Strung”. Low Strung is a group of twelve people, each playing the cello. We play a wide variety of music, ranging from Top 40 Hits to classics like “Living on a Prayer” and “Don’t Stop Believing”. But, I would say my biggest commitment at Yale is my business, called Lab Candy.
HC: What inspired you to create Lab Candy?
Lab Candy was primarily inspired by the blog I produced over the summer after my junior year of high school. I was working at a lab conducting scientific research and blogging about my findings. The blog was called, “Lab Candy: A Girl’s Guide to Some Seriously Sweet Science.” The name is cheesy, but the blog was geared towards young girls and meant to communicate that lab work is fun and can be cool. One day on the blog, after I put a picture of myself wearing bedazzled lab goggles, I got lots of comments from young girls asking where and how I got those goggles. So, it was that response that really inspired Lab Candy.
HC: How did you bring Lab Candy to Yale?
I first got started through the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute (YEI). I went to them with this crazy initial idea that I wanted to make bedazzled lab goggles for high school students. They miraculously didn’t laugh at me, but encouraged me to apply to a summer fellowship program through the YEI. The program gives you a chunk of money, access to an incredible network of Yale alumni, office space, and a place to stay all summer. It’s super cool and is how I spent last summer.
HC: What types of things did you do during the Fellowship?
I talked to a lot of customers and figured out pretty quickly that selling lab goggles is not the best idea. So, I experimented with different prototypes. Our new product is a kit that involves lab goggles, a lab coat, and a storybook about a young girl. This way, young students can read about adventures in science and see how a young girl solves her own problems using a science experiment. There is a recipe card in the back of the book, so that the young girl reader can recreate the story book in her own home, all while wearing the lab coat and goggles provided in the kit. The idea is that the lab coat and goggles match what the character in the story is wearing.
HC: What drew you to create a science-focused business model?
I was a big science person all throughout middle and high school. I remember this transition in third grade, where science was kind of considered cool, but all of a sudden, girls disliked the idea of science, which would sometimes involve dissecting frogs. As I got older, I went to science fairs and festivals and continuously noticed that there was a severe lack of girls at those events, so I started working with girls in science organizations. In High school, I focused on the National Girls Collaborative project and “Sci Girls.”
HC: What do you like to do with the free time you have on campus?
I love to just hang out with my suitemates. I am so excited that my friend’s Yale Dancers show is coming up; they’re all so talented. I enjoy checking out what’s going on throughout campus, like sports games and other types of events. There is always something to do!
HC: What are you looking forward to with Lab Candy?
We are having a kick-starter campaign this summer, a Crowd Funding campaign. Basically, we will put our product up online and people can choose to back us. People should keep their eyes open for the campaign; it’s coming sometime this July! I hope it does well and that we meet our goal.
HC: What are you most excited to explore at Yale over the next few years?
I definitely want to go to the top of Harkness Tower so badly! But I also want to spend more time at the CEID building, the Center for Engineering Innovation and Design. It’s a big glass building right past SSS where you’ll see lots of benches outside. It seems like a cool, innovative space and I would love to spend more time exploring it, even though I am not an engineering major. I am not sure how it works, but would love to find out!
HC: What is your favorite thing about Yale?
It’s so cheesy, but probably the people that I’ve met and continue to meet. I also appreciate that there is always something going on. If you have a free afternoon, something interesting is bound to be happening, whether it’s a Dramat show, an improve show, anything!
HC: Favorite Yale memory so far?
The Freshman Snowball fight was so much fun. My class, the current sophomores, did it right. The police had to come and shut us down. We had an amazing snowfall that year.
HC: What is something people probably don’t know about you?
I am a huge baseball fan. I also love to ride horses – in an alternate world and life, I was definitely a cowgirl.
HC: Where do you see yourself in five years?
Hopefully, I’ve graduated Yale (laughs). I would love to work on Lab Candy after I graduate, at least for a little while. At some point, I will probably go to Grad school, but I haven’t really figured out what direction I want to go in just yet.
This Sunday, NationSwell is hosting a Girls’ Afternoon of Science, inspired by an educational toy company called LabCandy that aims to change middle school girls’ perceptions of what a “scientist” stereotypically looks like. The afternoon will consist of a planetarium show, a lab google decorating station, and a “science fair” of current female Yale science majors from fields as disparate as Computer Science and Global Health, as well as a talk with Laurie Santos, Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science at Yale, about her career as a woman in science. Our hope is that the 6th grade girls participating in the afternoon realize that they too can excel in the sciences.