Izzy Bowlin is an entrepreneur now living in Gulfport. What makes her a little different in the business world is she’s 9 years old and in the 5th grade.
And, she’s already going places.
Right now, you can find Bowlin at the end of a dog leash with her mom as her business partner for clients who live locally.
Izzy started a professional dog walking business by having her mom, Laura Bowlin Dowers, publish a post on a Gulfport-related Facebook page on September 5.
The post reads, in part, “She would really like to have a dog of her own. She is saving up for one and wanting to work to earn the rest (and get some good practice in along the way).”
Izzy has been wanting a dog for about two years.
Since the social media post was published, she’s already met with about 20 families.
One of them is Tom and Melanie Roberts who are the parents of Buddy Ray, a 14-year-old dog they rescued four years ago in April.
“He was blind and his previous owners turned him into a shelter,” said Melanie. “They didn’t want him anymore.”
She explained that a shelter held a fundraiser that paid for his surgery and now not only can Buddy Ray see again, but he also likes to act like he’s two years old.
Now, one of his favorite sights is Izzy.
The Roberts’ found out about Izzy through social media. Now, Izzy is scheduled to walk Buddy Ray once-a-week.
“On her first dog walk, Izzy did very well,” said Melanie. “She was even ready with a pooper bag!”
Melanie thinks the business is a wonderful idea.
“Not too many kids would do what she’s doing,” said Melanie. “She’s learning responsibility and that things are better when earned instead of given. I think it’s great what her mom is having her do.”
What kind of dog is Izzy thinking of buying?
“An English bulldog,” she said.
Unless she changes her mind while learning what different breeds and mixes are like.
Izzy got the idea to start a dog walking business because so many of her family’s neighbors have dogs. Her only previous business experiences have been running lemonade stands with her friends or cleaning house for her mom.
Izzy’s favorite subjects in school are math and language arts. One of her dream professional goals, for now, is to become a baker.
But, not making dog cookies or brownies. She likes baking cakes with her grandmother.
Izzy and her mother recently moved over 3,000 miles from Portland, Oregon to Gulfport to be nearer to Dowers’ parents who live in St. Petersburg. Last November, Dowers’ grandparents moved from up north to St. Petersburg.
“Now, four generations live within 15 minutes of one another,” said Dowers.
Maybe, eventually, Izzy will be interested in baking dog cakes, said Dowers, laughing. For right now, Izzy is all about walking dogs and will be doing so until she reaches her goal, which will most likely be by the end of the year.
“There’s potential for her do to this for a long time,” said Dowers. “We’ll see how it works out juggling so many dogs in the long term. I’m her main transportation and everything else. When she reaches her goal, we’ll reevaluate the business at that point.”
When Dowers was looking for a local place to live, she said she wanted a location that was walkable, near the water and in her price range.
“Gulfport just romanced me. I fell in love with it before I got here,” she said. “It’s been better than I could have pictured.”
Helping her daughter start her business has “been the best kind of overwhelming to see how so many people have responded,” said Dowers. “We have some really nice people in the community that make Gulfport so unique and very different.”
Dowers expected their clientele to be people who worked but said she has discovered that most “are at home and just need a little extra help. They believe their dog needs more exercise or socialization. Or, they just want to help Izzy get used to dogs and help her reach her goal.”
To find out more about Izzy’s business or to schedule a dog walk, email her mother at Laura.Bowlin@gmail.com.