Still, Horowitz never expected to be her own boss. "I was always running other people's businesses."
That changed in 1996 when her daughter, Eve, came home from school one day. "My sister said to me, 'Why is Eve scratching her head?'" she recalls. "I went over and took a look at her, and there were these little bugs crawling all over her head."
Horowitz was horrified. She called her pediatrician, who prescribed a shampoo. "It was full of poisonous pesticides," she says. Horowitz decided not to put it on her child's head. "I told my husband, 'There's gotta be another way.'"
Head lice affect an estimated 6 million to 12 million U.S. children a year. They only like human hair, Horowitz says, who adds they don't fly or jump, they crawl, so you need to have head-to-head, hair-to-hair contact (one reason more moms than dads end up catching lice from their kids). "It wraps its legs around the hair, then takes a little bite, and that's what's itchy, and lays an egg," says Horowitz. "If you miss one egg, the whole thing starts all over again."
Horowitz spent months in 1996 trying to rid Eve of lice, combing through her hair, searching for eggs. She ended up going to the library (yes, that's what you did 22 years ago) to research natural ways to kill lice. Eventually, Horowitz found a woman in Germany who sold a special comb. The comb arrived with a small white packet. "I said, 'What is this?'" she remembers. It was baking soda.
Soon Horowitz concocted a conditioner with baking soda, and that, combined with the right comb, solved Eve's lice problem. "There's such a big stigma to lice, but my friends eventually figured it out," she remembers, laughing. "Every time they came to my house, they saw me bent over my daughter, and then they ran out and slammed the door."
However, with a solution in hand, she started offering to help others, and suddenly some of them started to pay her. "I kept saying, 'Why isn't there a business to take care of this? There's a business for everything else.' Finally, by the end of the summer, I realized, 'Oh, girl, you're it.'"
That's how Horowitz became a professional nitpicker.