By Patra Taylor

After her son Sam was born, Jennifer Horton settled comfortably into the role of stay-at-home mom, loving every minute she spent taking care of her Mount Pleasant home and family that also included husband, Greg and daughters Anne-Gregory and Zella. Beyond their day-to-day routines, the Horton family enjoys an active outdoor lifestyle that includes long days at the beach, leisurely afternoons cruising Lowcountry rivers aboard their boat and as many Clemson football games as they can squeeze into their schedules.

“It seems like we’re forever in the sun,” states Mrs. Horton, a Spartanburg native who earned a bachelor’s degree in visual arts from Clemson University. “I also play a lot of tennis, so I’m out in the sun a lot. So it seemed like I was constantly sun-screening everyone in the family all the time. With three kids, that can be exhausting.”

One day last spring when she was slathering another layer of sunscreen onto one of her children, she had the bright idea to create a line of versatile fashion-forward sunwraps that help protect people from overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation, the leading cause of skin cancer. Plus, the colorful stylish wraps she had in mind would also help cool its users while they enjoyed their favorite outdoor activities in the sun. It was an idea that wouldn’t let go of her, even as she went about her busy life. During the next few weeks, a business plan began coming together in Mrs. Horton’s head.

She admits she’s no stranger to the world of business. “After teaching art to eighth graders for a whopping year and a half, I realized teaching teenagers wasn’t for me,” explains Mrs. Horton. “I decided I wanted to get into pharmaceutical sales. So I took a job in copier sales. If you can sell copiers, you can sell anything.”

Just as Mrs. Horton expected, her stint as a copier salesperson prepared her for a successful career as a pharmaceutical sales rep. “After my daughters Anne-Gregory, who is now 13 and Zella, who is now 11, were born, I returned to my career part-time,” she says. “After Sam, our eight year old, came along, it wasn’t long before I realized that the life of a traveling pharmaceutical salesperson — even part time — took me away from my family too many nights. So I gave up my sales career to focus on my family.”

Even as Mrs. Horton’s idea for her colorful sunwraps continued to occupy her mind, she recounts visiting her grandmother (also Zella) on her birthday. “I was drawn to a photograph on her wall,” she recalls. “It was a picture of the store my grandmother had opened when I was in the second grade. I’d forgotten all about the store, Candianne’s, which my grandmother had named after my sister, Candy, my mother, Dianne and me, because my middle name is Anne. That name felt so right to me.”

The pieces of her venture almost miraculously began felling into place. By chance, a graphic artist student from Clemson came to spend the summer doing an internship at a local company and helping with babysitting the Horton children. Mrs. Horton bumped into one of her husband’s fraternity brothers, who manufactured performance clothing. And then one day, the perfect name for her business came to her: ZAGS, named for her children Zella, Anne-Gregory and Sam. “I adore the name,” she admits. “My father-in-law’s paralegal, who was completing the paperwork for my corporation, called to asked me what the name of my company. ZAGS just flew out of my mouth. It felt so right … it made me so happy.”

By the end of the summer and using ZAGS prototypes in her own busy lifestyle, Mrs. Horton had settled on three sizes for her sunwraps — the Square, the Shawl and the Blanket. Each size comes in eight exclusive designs, all created especially for women and their families with active outdoor lifestyles in mind. Every sunwrap is manufactured by hand in South Carolina. Mrs. Horton notes that not only are ZAGS wraps made of high performance polyester fabric, they provide wicking, cooling and UV protection. They are also stain, odor and microbial resistant and come packed in a carry bag that’s also perfect for toting sunscreen, lipstick, the kid’s goggles and other outdoor necessities.

“You don’t have to worry about the fabric wrinkling and the wraps dry quickly,” she adds. “You can have a wrap protecting your neck and exposed back one minute and have it wrapped around your waist as a bathing suit cover the next. They function as a traditional off-the-shoulder scarf or a mini-skirt sarong. Our wraps are wearable art with a utilitarian function. Women who love living in the sunlight need at least one ZAGS sunwrap to make their summer wardrobe complete.”

ZAGS sunwraps are available online at zagslife.com and at fine women’s clothing stores across the Southeast — including Charleston’s own Copper Penny and Finicky Filly. They are also available at Germain Dermatology located in Mount Pleasant.

 

Mercury newspaper racks are located at the following locations:

The Meeting Street Inn

Clair's Service Station at 334 Folly Rd.

Harris Teeter on Houston-Northcutt Blvd.

The Square Onion in I'On

Mt. Pleasant Library on Mathis Ferry Rd.