One evening in 1997, a shaking and whimpering five-year-old named Julian started throwing up blood. His caretaker, Myriam Zaoui, rushed him to the hospital, where doctors diagnosed kidney failure and prescribed antibiotics. After a second bout, Zaoui, who had studied herbology and Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine at the East West School of Herbology in Ben Lomond, Calif., decided to take matters into her own hands. She concocted a potion of bearberry, marshmallow bark, clivers, hydrangea, and saw palmetto extracts that she administered by syringe in tandem with immune system boosters goldenseal and echinacea. After a year with no recurrences, the Shar-Pei received a clean bill of health. "The vet hadn't seen treatment like that before," recalls Zaoui. "My dog was my first 'patient."
But not the last. Zaoui, co-founder and executive vice president of the Art of Shaving (TAOS), barber spas for men, has put her mixology talents to work on the pets of friends, never charging a fee. She's treated a boxer with ringworm, a Sheba Inu with mild depression, a German shepherd with rheumatism, and a tabby named Lulu with kidney stones. "What the vet prescribed didn't work," says friend Natalie Astier, Lulu's owner. "After Myriam suggested bearberry extract, the cat hasn't had a problem."
Zaoui, 30, was surrounded by animals during her childhood in Paris. Now she lives in Miami with husband and TAOS co-founder Eric Malka, whipping up botanical remedies in her kitchen. "People look for natural alternatives to heal themselves and their pets," she says. But Zaoui isn't giving up her day job--business is too good (the 50-employee, $10 million company opens a sixth location in Las Vegas this month). Still, a woman can dream. "One day I'd like to have a ranch with lots of animals and an office where I could consult. It wouldn't feel like work."