Simon Goldman and Calypso, whose flea allergy led to Simon’s creation of a line of pet shampoos.
Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star
By Arden Moore
All it took was connecting with a pair of large, sad eyes inside a cage at an animal shelter to inspire an 11-year-old Boca Raton boy to not only adopt this senior dog but also to become one of America’s youngest entrepreneurs.
Meet the very likeable and very determined Simon Goldman, president of Simon’s Happy Pet Shampoo Company. His endeavor has already been pitched to Hollywood’s pet-loving A-list stars.
This home-schooled sixth-grader has had a lifelong love of animals. His persistence to adopt a dog finally paid off a couple years ago when he convinced his mom, Diane, that he was ready to handle the responsibilities of caring for a dog. That day, he walked into the Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League in West Palm Beach in search of the right dog.
He resisted the adorable antics of available puppies and chatty Chihuahuas.
“I saw a little ball of fluff in the back of a cage,” recalls Simon. “The minute he raised his head and looked up at me with his big eyes, I fell for him. I knew instantly that he was the dog for me.”
He dubbed this dog, now estimated to be about 12, Calypso after the boat used by Jacques Cousteau in his nautical adventures. At the time of adoption, Calypso sported bald spots and itchy skin because of allergic reactions to fleas on his poodle-Maltese coat.
“I tried every kind of shampoo and nothing worked — he was still itching and he was miserable,” says Simon. “I realized that the chemicals in these products were doing more harm than good.”
Determined to help his new four-legged friend, Simon reached out to a chemist friend and researched the Internet for a viable solution. He concocted organic shampoo blends containing key ingredients, such as organic coconut oil, olive oil, neem oil, rosemary extract, Shea butter and lavender to restore Calypso’s coat.
“In school and through my research, I’ve learned that coconut oil is very good for doggy odors, cuts and sores. I have also learned that neem oil repels mosquitos and fleas and that lavender is very good for calming dogs,” says Simon.
He knew other dogs with skin and coat issues could benefit as well, so he calmly informed his mom that he was ready to launch a pet shampoo business. With a couple of shampoos created (retailing each for $14.99), he boldly entered the Paw Depot in Boca Raton and made his sales pitch to the owner, Matt Aschendorf.
“I simply told him that I have a product that he needs for his store — a product that doesn’t contain any artificial dyes or perfumes or chemicals that strip the oils from a dog’s skin,” recalls Simon. “He said, ‘I’ll take three and try it out.’ Then I was interviewed on WPBF-TV, and since then, so many people are calling and placing orders for my shampoos.”
He then pitched the person in charge of filling swag bags for stars attending the Academy Awards and persuaded her to include his shampoo, which sports an image of him and Calypso wearing aviator sunglasses.
“She liked my shampoos, and so celebrities like Sandra Bullock, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep and Leonard DiCaprio left the Oscars with swag bags containing my shampoos,” he says. These days, Simon maximizes every minute of every day, juggling the need to fulfill product orders and expand his product line with doing school work and finding time to play games and work out at the Fun Spot Fitness center in Boca Raton — and of course, chilling with Calypso.
“He is very smart and he likes to get things done quickly,” notes Julie Sobeck, his teacher. “His brain is always running and he enjoys doing science experiments.”
Adds mom Diane, “I’m from Switzerland and Simon’s first language is French. He is very interested in dogs, science and business and he is following these passions. He reminds us every day of the importance to follow your passion no matter your age.”
After speaking with Simon, I’m betting you will walk away motivated and inspired by his ageless can-do approach to life. He also stays focused on his objective.
“If I can help one dog and stop his suffering and feel better, my job is done,” he says. “When I went to the shelter that day, I wanted a dog who was calm and would hang out with me like a best friend. I found those qualities in Calypso. I like that he is like a little old guy who can still be fun.”
Learn more about Simon and his pet shampoo company at www.simonshappypet.com.
Arden Moore, founder of FourLeggedLife.com, is an animal behavior consultant, editor, author, professional speaker and master certified pet first aid instructor. Each week, she hosts the popular Oh Behave! show on PetLifeRadio.com. Learn more by visiting www.fourleggedlife.com.