Alumni Focus on Jenna Zigler (OD’11) and Travis Zigler (OD’10)
THE STORY OF DRS. JENNA AND TRAVIS ZIGLER
Jenna (JZ): I don’t know if I have one! I’ve moved around so much, but I would say Temperance, MI (that’s where I went to high school)
Travis (TZ): Bryan, Ohio - home of the Dum Dum Sucker and Etch-a-Sketch
Which institution did you attend for your undergraduate degree? What was your major?
JZ: University of Michigan! My degree was Brain, Behavior, and Cognitive Science
TZ: THE Ohio State University and I didn’t graduate but had a Zoology major, with a minor in Chemistry
Which degree(s), related to optometry, did you earn at Ohio State?
Who were your mentors at the College of Optometry? Who had a positive effect on your education?
JZ: Dr. Greg Nixon was an inspiration to me. He was always easy to talk to, explained things well, and was an excellent example of what a great clinician should be.
TZ: Dr. Jackie Davis was my attending doctor at South High clinic. She sold her private practice to focus on this low cost clinic. I didn’t understand and I asked her why she would do such a thing. She just looked at me, chuckled, and said “Travis, you never know where your life will take you, but someday you’ll understand.”
After owning my own practices, working for others in every setting, and being online, life is quite the journey. But through it all, I find serving others, especially those in need, is the most rewarding experience.
I now understand Dr. Davis.
CAREER IN OPTOMETRY
Name of your employer(s) and title, including location.
2010 (2011 for Jenna)-2014: We worked for Dr. LaMar Zigler (Travis' uncle) at Central Ohio Eye Care, which is a private practice in Columbus and Powell, Ohio. We also worked at Walmart Vision Center for Dr. Maria Fragoulis in Hilliard, Lewis Center and Westerville.
2015-2017: We quit our jobs, moved down to South Carolina, and opened up two practices, a private practice in Blythewood and a Walmart practice in Camden, South Carolina. In 2015 we also started a sunglasses company called Eye Love, which sold sunglasses online.
Eye Love pivoted in 2017 from a sunglasses company to a dry eye company, with our leading product being Heyedrate Lid and Lash Cleanser. Due to the success of Heyedrate, we sold both practices in 2017 to go full time into serving online.
We continued to build Eye Love by providing value in the form of educational videos, interviews with experts, and blog posts. We continued to expand our product portfolio and now have an entire eye care routine available.
In June 2021, we saw an incredible opportunity to merge with Acumen Health Holdings, the makers of PRN Omega-3. We will be staying on with them over the next couple years to help continue the expansion of Eye Love and Heyedrate.
In 2018, we also started our Eye Love Cares Foundation and “retired” from optometric patient care. Eye Love and our Foundation are truly our passion projects.
Why did you choose a career in optometry?
JZ: I shadowed and worked for Dr. Robert Layman in high school (he was my optometrist). I remember him asking me what I wanted to do after high school, and I told him I was interested in something in the medical field, but I don’t do blood or needles. He told me that optometry would be perfect for me! Turns out, I loved the profession and the impact it can make on a patient’s life. Not many people can say that they get to give people the gift of sight!
TZ: I wanted to go into the medical field, but wanted to create a more positive change in people. Giving someone the gift of sight is one of the greatest gifts of all and it is one of the most rewarding experiences. The reaction is priceless, regardless if it is a baby here in the US seeing their mom for the first time or the 80 year old in Jamaica getting cataract surgery. It is pure joy.
Give us a glimpse of your typical day as an optometrist.
JZ: I wake up between 5 and 6 a.m., depending on how often our youngest son (Silas) woke up during the night :) I get up, listen to a devotional and do a yoga routine or stretch. I used to work out early each morning, but the baby often throws a wrench in that! We have breakfast together between 6:30 and 8 a.m., and then our oldest (Jude) leaves for school while I put our youngest down for a nap.
I then like to work out - either indoor cycling or weight lifting at home. I will occasionally take a walk with Sy later in the day if I didn’t get a workout before I begin working. After that, my workday begins - I am the Senior Vice President of Operations at Eye Love, so I oversee all logistics for the company. I ensure that inventory is being managed and moved as needed, that we are ordering the correct amounts to stay in stock, and I make sure everything is being recorded properly.
Aside from this, I enjoy writing so I’m occasionally working on copy for product listings and labels, and writing or editing our blog posts. I also spend time in our Dry Eye Syndrome Support Community answering questions and moderating what’s going on there.
The rest of my routine matches Travis’ once the kids are home!
TZ: I wake up at 5 a.m. to get up before everyone else. I drink 20 ounces of water and do 10 minutes of push-ups, squats, planks, and tricep dips. I then drink a 16 ounces greens powder drink and make my coffee. I then study scripture for 45 minutes and take notes. Finally, I listen to a business podcast/book and take notes. Then my children get up.
We then spend from 6:30 to 8 a.m. having breakfast and hanging out. I take my kids to school at 8 a.m.
Then my workday begins. I run two businesses, President of Eye Love and CEO of Profitable Pineapple Ads. My day is usually sales calls for the agency or meetings for Eye Love. I also write our ads, video scripts, and make videos for our YouTube channel.
I’ll usually run or bike for 60 minutes in the middle of the day as a break.
We get our kids from school between 3:30 and 4:30 p.m.. and the rest of the day is theirs. We play Legos, read, bike, hike, swim, and spend a lot of time outside since we live in Texas. We eat dinner at 5 p.m. and then at 6:45 p.m. we start bedtime routines with bathtime and reading. Kids are down by 7:30 p.m. on a great day.
Then Jenna and I usually read books, listen to books, podcasts, or watch some educational material online. We will occasionally watch TV when the Buckeyes are on or if we are having a movie night. Then we go to bed around 8:30 a.m. to read for 30 minutes before falling to sleep.
Which optometric issues concern you the most?
JZ: Dry eye is incredibly concerning, especially in the younger population. Digital devices are playing a large role in this. Staring at a screen all day (whether at work, school, or home) is causing damage and potentially leading to more serious issues in the future for many young people.
TZ: Dry eyes and the use of eye drops in the eye care space. Eye drops are great for symptom relief, but they don’t address the underlying issue at hand.
Where do you hope to see your optometric career in five years?
JZ: I see myself much more focused on our Eye Love Cares Foundation and mission work than I get to be now (thanks to working for PRN and raising babies!) Mission work is truly my passion and I’m looking forward to figuring out a way to partner with others who have the same mission. We’d ultimately like to establish permanent clinics with a more sustainable model. We believe it’s important to empower the local population to be a part of the change.
That being said, we are always asked whether or not we will go back to practicing optometry in a traditional setting. My answer has changed over the years and I truly believe I am able to make much more of an impact this way than seeing patients one on one.
TZ: We recently sold Eye Love and Heyedrate in June of 2021 and will be staying on with them for another few years, and after that I have two focal points. I started a business with my two best friends from undergraduate at The Ohio State. It is an advertising agency that helps brands scale on Amazon with Amazon ads. We get to travel together and do life together. My focus will be around building that business as the CEO.
In regard to optometry, we have a foundation called the Eye Love Cares Foundation. We use the profits from our companies and donate to the foundation. This Foundation allows us to “Pay It Forward” to Ohio State and provide scholarships and other opportunities for students.
We also use the funds to help our life mission, which is to help end preventable blindness. We do this by providing eye exams, glasses, sunglasses, cataract surgery, glaucoma surgery, and diabetic surgery to those in Jamaica and other Caribbean islands. These MASH style clinics are temporary, but we are looking to establish a more sustainable model around this.
What is one piece of advice you can give OPT-IV students as they prepare to graduate and begin their optometric careers?
JZ: Be open minded to the opportunities that are presented to you. You never know how one small decision can change your life.
TZ: Live well below your means until your debt is paid off and you're saving at least half your salary for your future (in the form of an emergency fund, investments, etc.). Start to have a little fun once your passive income can pay for it.
This will allow you to serve your patients to the fullest and never have to live paycheck to paycheck. You will truly be free to do exactly what you want. Don’t ever think you are stuck where you are.
OHIO STATE EXPERIENCE
What were your most memorable moments at Ohio State?
JZ: Meeting Travis :) and our trips to Ecuador and Peru with SVOSH
TZ: Meeting my wife is THE most memorable moment, but what really stands out to me is our first mission trip to Ecuador in 2008. This forever changed our lives and the trajectory of our future. It led to the development of our foundation, and really pushed us to try to make an impact even starting right out of school.
Were you involved in any organizations as an Ohio State Optometry student?
JZ: AOSA, SVOSH, EYE (Epsilon Psi Epsilon)
TZ: AOSA, SVOSH, Student Council, EYE (Epsilon Psi Epsilon)
What do Ohio State and the College of Optometry mean to you and your family?
JZ: Without Ohio State and the College of Optometry, I wouldn’t be married to Travis and I wouldn’t have the education and drive to jump into something that not many people understand. We were taught to be the best we can be while truly caring for and looking at each and every person as an individual.
TZ: The team at the College of Optometry truly does teach you how to serve at the highest level and really pushes you out of your comfort zone. LEAN IN to this and it will take you wherever you want to go.
How do you stay connected with the College of Optometry?
JZ: We try to do a lot of our CE at East West, and we like to come back for Alumni weekends when possible. We follow OSU College of Optometry on social media, and we read all the magazines!
TZ: We try to go to at least one event in Columbus per year (we live in Austin TX), whether it be East/West Conference, Alumni Weekend, as well as read all the publications like this one. I also try to take time to shoot a text message to at least one person a day just to check in (not just optometrists but some).
What has the COVID-19 experience taught you about patient care?
JZ and TZ: DIVERSIFY your income. Not really patient care, but don’t rely solely on patient care as your only income. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. We built the online business because we wanted to diversify our income due to Warby Parker, Zenni Optical, and others coming for our optical. Little did we know it would also protect us from the COVID pandemic as well.
How do you imagine patient care will change in the future, in light of the COVID-19 public health crisis?
TZ: I think you are going to see a movement away from insurance and managed care plans and toward more cash pay. This will help reduce the amount of patients in the office to keep a healthier, more sanitary environment in the doctors’ office.
What are your current hobbies, volunteer work and interests?
JZ: Church, eye care mission trips, traveling, hiking/walking, baking
TZ: Church, Ukelele, Legos with Jude, Reading to Silas, iCare Project mission trips to Jamaica, Traveling with Jenna around both the US (49 states visited) and World (33 countries), Cryptocurrency, Building businesses, and Real Estate Investing
What was the first concert that you attended / most recent?
JZ: N’Sync was the first, Andrea Bocelli was the most recent
TZ: Kid Rock was the first and Andrea Bocelli was the most recent
If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
JZ: Maybe teleportation. I absolutely LOVE to explore new places (whether it be other countries or even in my own town), but I get very stressed out leading up to the actual travel part. I’d rather just snap my fingers and be there!
TZ: The Flash’s speed because I could get things done superfast like my work and traveling.
What’s the best eye pun you’ve ever heard?
TZ: Eye puns are so corne…a
If not an optometrist, I would be…
JZ: A writer
TZ: Digital Marketer (it is my second career)