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Student makes company from fair project


While other students were busy playing video games at home, Carmel High School senior Jack Hays expanded on his eighth-grade science fair project and created a company, Bruno’s Goods and Gear, which sells all-natural dog grooming products.

“It all started in eighth grade after my science fair project on the anti-bacterial effects of rosemary and lavender,” says Hays, who had recently gotten a new dog, Bruno, who had really sensitive skin. “I wanted to find an all-natural shampoo without synthetic chemicals,” says the entrepreneur.

Rather than searching online for a solution, Hays decided to create his own product by using the knowledge that he learned from his science fair project. He incorporated both rosemary and lavender into his products and the smallest number of ingredients possible.

During the planning stages of the company, his mom and dad taught him the skills needed to run, create and manage it, but now he runs the company by himself.

“My role as a parent has largely been to pretty much fill in the gaps and holes where he needed an adult,” explains his mom, Margaret Hays.

His company at the moment has a total of three products, two different shampoos and Snout Grout, which treats dog’s dry noses. The shampoos come in two different scents—rosemary and lavender—and contains seven all-natural ingredients, while the Snout Grout has three.

The products are currently in 17 different store locations in various regions of California, and even one in New York. One local pet store in downtown Carmel, Diggity Dog, has been working with him for over a year.

“They do great,” says Vanessa Hill, the buyer for Diggity Dog. “They sell out all the time. I am always ordering more.”

Hays managed to get his products in various stores in California because, if a store is interested, he travels to the store and personally introduces himself and the product.

Hays follows a typical wholesale business model, selling the product in bulk to “middlemen” who then, in turn, sell to the consumers. To obtain his product, he typically goes to a small, local family-owned business and buys in bulk, making a single bottle of 16-ounce shampoo cost around $3 to $4 to produce and selling them to retailers for about $6.50.

“They will usually sell it for around two to three times the cost,” Hays says.

Diggity Dog retails each bottle of 16-ounce shampoo for $17. So far this year, Hays assures that his revenue has been positive.

The senior is also a very dedicated student. Throughout his time at Carmel High School, he has taken 17 AP courses, plans to apply to college and major in computer science and is considering a minor in business. He also is a part of the Carmel High School tennis team.

Hays plans on continuing to excel in school, and work on and grow the company in the coming years.

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