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Samantha Todd

Unschooled and unmatched

Samantha Todd is not your typical teenager. At 14 years old, she owns an organic beauty product business and donates a portion of the proceeds to a global charity. She’s also “unschooled,” a form of education that allows her to learn through home schooling, classes at public school, projects, and the community. Learn how this fascinating teen lives life to the fullest and has turned her passion into a way to help others.

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What is your age and grade?

I’m 14, and if I were in school I’d be in eighth grade.

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Tell us a little about the “unschooling” form of home schooling.

I don’t use a curriculum, but I learn from a variety of sources, such as classes at school, home schooling classes, community programs, and projects based at home. So learning can happen anywhere.

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Have you always been home-schooled?

No. I attended kindergarten and first grade. I have been home-schooled since first grade.

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Is your social life different from teens who attend public schools?

My social life is very different from teens whose social life revolves mainly around school friends. I have friends from my home schooling group, my neighborhood, and from community organizations and classes I’ve taken. Since I am able to attend classes and participate in the sports programs through the public school, I also have friends through these activities. I also have friends in other parts of the world, such as Canada, France, Japan, Costa Rica, and Panama. It is also different in that I have much more time to hang out with my home-schooled friends during the day. Having said that, I do many things that most teens like to do, such as listen to music, hang out with friends, and watch movies.

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Tell us about your company, Simply Luscious. How did you get the idea to start selling skin care products?

About five years ago, my mom and I helped with a project to make lip balm and hand salve to raise money for a local soup kitchen. A couple of years later, I made and sold hand salve and lip balm to raise money for a Ugandan children’s choir. Then, when I turned 11, I made hand salve and lip balm to sell at a local organic fair. Ever since then, I have been modifying recipes and making my own products. They are for sale in health food stores and I also still sell them at the fair every year. I donate 5 percent of all my profits to a charity called Safe Passage. They run healthy living and school programs for children living around and working in the Guatemala City garbage dump.

I want my business to help people and not have a negative impact on the environment. I grow calendula, a flowering plant, in my garden, which I put in all my products. I also get my beeswax from an apiary — a place where bee hives are kept — near my house. I buy the ingredients that I don’t grow myself at local health food stores.

All of my products are organic and natural, without any artificial colors, flavors, or chemicals. I’m constantly developing new flavors and products. I call my business Simply Luscious because of my simple ingredients. Once people try my products, they know why they’re called luscious.

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What kind of lessons have you learned from starting your own company?

I have learned that people may not take you seriously if you are young. Also, if you are interested in something, don’t give up; you can do anything!

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You are also on the Girls Advisory Board of Hardy Girls, Healthy Women, a non-profit organization dedicated to the health and well-being of girls and women. Can you tell us a little about their message and what you do for them?

There is so much to say about Hardy Girls, Healthy Women. They are an empowerment organization for girls and women. They believe that it is not the girls that should be changed but the environment or culture that that they live in.

About two years ago, I won the Hardy Girls, Healthy Women Rock Award for entrepreneurship. After that I joined the Girls Advisory Board. It has taught me so much! I honestly think that I would be a very different person without Hardy Girls Healthy Women.

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You also are the head of fundraising on the Girls Advisory Board. Can you tell us more about it and how you raise money?

The Girls Advisory Board is a group of girls who do social action projects and keep Hardy Girls, Healthy Women up-to-date on what girls today are like. Because their funding comes from large and small individual donors, local businesses and corporations, and private foundations, we can do any kind of fundraising activity. Our two main fundraisers every year are a car wash and a pancake breakfast. Right now I’m also looking into corporate sponsorships.

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What are your favorite healthy activities?

I have lots of favorite healthy activities. Some are creating healthy products for Simply Luscious, running, hip hop dancing, cooking, singing, art, and acting.

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You are involved in so many things. Do you have any advice for girls on finding their own path?

My advice would be follow your dream, stick with it and have fun. And, don’t worry about money. It will come.

Content last reviewed April 01, 2011
Page last updated April 01, 2011

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health.