89-year-old San Rafael Senior Launches Business with Grandson


Pearl Malkin might just be the San Francisco Bay Area’s next great entrepreneur.

An 89-year-old senior in San Rafael, she began using a cane when she got vertigo. She was depressed just looking at her plain black cane. So this enterprising octogenarian got a hot glue gun, silk flowers and a pair of scissors. Carefully, she cut the bunches of flowers into individual blooms that she affixed to her cane. Voila. A happier cane, in under an hour. She made a few more. The craft project kept her busy and creative while aging in place in San Rafael.

Her grandson, Adam London, had been dreaming about starting his own business, being an Entrepreneur. He stopped by his grandmother’s San Rafael house one afternoon to catch up and tell her about his vision. The sassy senior citizen informed her grandson that she was already an Entrepreneur, and showed him her happy canes.

Adam thought she was really onto something. So he created a kickstarter campaign to raise $3,500, expanding Grandma Pearl’s line of decorated canes and raising capital so she wouldn’t have to make each one by herself, by hand.

“I never thought I’d go into business with my grandma,” Adam said.

Just days away from the conclusion of the kickstarter campaign, Grandma Pearl and her grandson Adam have raised $4,661 from 223 investors from around the globe. CNN recently featured this intergenerational start-up on its website.

Pearl was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. More than 60 years ago, she and her late husband, Irving, moved to Arizona, where they raised four kids. For the last few years, Pearl has lived in San Rafael, Marin County, California.

Happy Canes is not her first entrepreneurial venture. Years ago, she and her son self-published a book, “A Jewish Mother’s Guide to Professional Worry: Worry Yourself to Good Health.” For a $22 investment, you can receive a signed copy of the book. Sixty-five dollars will get you one Happy Cane, designed with seasonal spring flowers of tulips, lilies, daffodils and gardenias. Or, you can buy one directly from this hip grandmother’s Etsy Shop.

“I want to see the world smiling and laughing,” Pearl said, “and if it takes a stupid little cane with little flowers and 15 burn marks on my hands to make it happen, it’s okay.”

One Comment

  1. Lori Todd
    Posted March 31, 2013 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    My parents are both over 85 years old. They are one of many who are active and creative. My mother Elaine Todd Koren just finished her fourth book, Minor Incident, and my father Murray Koren just published his first book, Coney Island Odyssey!

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