Boys are a lot of things. They’re loud, rumbunctious, and chaotic. They’re also sweet, kind and caring. There’s no denying though, that they stink, especially as they grow older.
It’s something that Jackie Baron realised as her boys entered their tween years. It’s why she started Neon Goat, a range of cool body care products that boys will be proud to use.
Baron has a background in big brand advertising, working in Sydney and New York. She was in New York, in fact, when 9/11 happened, and according to Baron, it turned her world upside down. But, she said, the truth is, she always wanted to be a mother.
“I remember telling somebody decades ago, that I want to be as good a mother as I am an account director,” she told The AJN. She said it’s not really a fashionable thing to say, but she is proud of the fact that when she started her family, the advertising doors closed. She took on the title of Director of Family Matters.
She always knew, however, that there would be another chapter.
“There was always a fire burning inside,” she said. “I’m very creative, very passionate. I’m very driven and I just knew that at some point, my kids would get to that stage where I probably could focus on something else.”
And that time seems to be now.
Since her boys, who are now 16 and 12, were around the age of 10, Baron estimates that she gave them (and their friends) well over 8700 lifts to and from their after-school activities, including a lot of sport.
“My husband or I would pick up a carload of boys and my husband would always make them strip down, put their clothes in a garbage bag, and spray them with his aftershave before they got into the car,” Baron laughed. “You realise very quickly what it’s like to drive these boys home. It’s never pleasant.”
“We can joke around and say they’re annoying and forgetful, and they don’t listen to us. I’ve seen it all. I’ve seen every story with tweenagers and teenagers. But I’ve also learned a lot from my sons personally. And at the end of the day, we must uplift them. They’re the greatest of all time, and this brand is for them.”
Baron noted however, that there was never an appropriate product for boys. While there were a wealth of options for girls, the healthcare products for boys were far from age appropriate, from a branding perspective and from a scent perspective.
“I very quickly realised that the only brands on the shelves were mostly antiperspirants that contain aluminium, and I didn’t want to be putting that on a pre-pubescent young boy. They weren’t clean products either. And I just thought, again, this is not what I should be putting on my young son,” Baron recalled, explaining that she was left with no choice. “My 10-year-old smelt like a 28-year-old.”
Also, the products available weren’t ones that the boys would proudly pull out of their locker to use in public.
But things changed when COVID19 hit.
Acknowledging and honouring that COVID was very difficult for many people, Baron explained that her life suddenly slowed down.
“My very manic life with my children became quiet,” she said. “I used to be on the road all the time – three school lifts, eight sports drives, every afternoon from the east to the west and back again. But suddenly, I had time to go for walks and think a little bit.”
The idea for Neon Goat had been fostering for some time. COVID gave her the opportunity to pursue it.
“My little guy flies in off one of those COVID bike rides that all the kids used to do, and he came in stinking to high heaven,” Baron said. “I’ll never forget calling my husband saying, ‘this is the next chapter’. And before I knew it, I was saying the words ‘Neon Goat’.”
What’s in the name?
For Baron, it’s about shining a bright light – NEON – on the greatest of all time kids – GOAT – because that’s what our boys are.
“We can joke around and say they’re annoying and forgetful, and they don’t listen to us. I’ve seen it all. I’ve seen every story with tweenagers and teenagers. But I’ve also learned a lot from my sons personally. And at the end of the day, we must uplift them. They’re the greatest of all time, and this brand is for them,” Baron said. “It’s for my boys. It’s for our boys.”
Neon Goat launched with two products – the shvitz stick and shvitz spritz – which solves both the deodorant issue and the spray issue when you’re picking up a carload of kids from sport. The word shvitz, Baron said, is a nod to her Eastern European heritage. The products are natural and simple, Australian made with no nasties, not tested on animals and importantly, the boys are happy and proud to use the products.
“This is a new generation of boys,” Baron acknowledged, explaining that her eldest son spends more time in front of the mirror than his older sister. “He’s proud of it. He wants to feel good, look good. He wants his skin to look good and his hair to look good.” The boys are influenced by soccer players, musicians, and by a whole assortment of modern men. They want their own products that speak to them directly, and that are age appropriate.
“It’s for my boys. It’s for our boys.”
In a nod to her philosophy of ‘what goes around comes around’, Baron has partnered with Men of Manners, which she said was a no-brainer. The organisation is a mentoring academy which aims to engage males, at a student level, in topics of etiquette, behaviour, social standing, mental strength, relationships and identity to name a few. Baron explains it as a program that looks at how we are talking to this generation of young boys and how are we supporting them. And it’s a cause that’s close to her heart, because at the end of the day, that’s why Baron started Neon Goat – to ensure the boys had access to positive communication about body odour specifically, and positive products that they’ll be proud to use.
The feedback, she said, has been fantastic, especially from her boys.
“There’s a real pride. They weren’t so happy when I was dragging them out of bed for 5am photoshoots,” she laughed. “But it’s authentic. There are no better boys to represent Neon Goat than mine. They’ve been part of the journey from the beginning.”
And for those looking to start their business journey, Baron said it’s never too late. She started a new business at the age of 46. “Never give up on your dreams,” she said. “That younger woman always knew that there’d be another chapter. It’s never too late. And get outside your comfort zone. That’s where the magic happens.”