When Scout & Molly’s former owner died last year, John Simon, Nikki Pelier Simon and their daughter Ashley Sanchez decided to carry on the legacy of this popular boutique.

By Emily Leinfuss | 5:00 a.m. May 17, 2023

If you had told John Simon and Nikki Pelier Simon at the start of April 2022 that a few months later they’d be the proud owners of Scout & Molly’s in University Town Center, they probably would have thought it was an April Fools’ prank.

But there wasn’t anything funny about the reason the store suddenly became available. Sadly, the store’s former owner, Lindsey Elizabeth Smith, died on April 26, 2022. She was 43 years old.

“One day I was working from home when my husband received a phone call about Lindsey,” says Nikki. “After he hung up, I said, ‘Oh my gosh, that is so terrible. What will you do?’”

Since one of John’s many responsibilities as executive vice president and CFO for the corporate Scout & Molly’s is overseeing all franchise operations, it fell to him to manage the situation. And the couple knew Smith and the store personally.

“I told John, ‘You can’t close that store. Lindsey worked her butt off to keep the doors open through the pandemic. If (her family) doesn’t want to keep the franchise, can I make an offer?’” says Nikki. She did, and the family accepted. “I wanted to continue Lindsey’s legacy and do what Scout & Molly’s is here to do.”

As Nikki describes it, Scout & Molly’s mission to make every woman feel beautiful and special by providing products and services they can’t find anywhere else, including stylists who provide fashion and fitting expertise in an ambiance of non-judgmental, no-pressure shopping.

The UTC shop (there are more than 15 shops around the country) is very much a family-run business. The Simons’ daughter Ashley Sanchez is the assistant manager. And John, while still busy with his corporate role, is “the silent, sometimes not so silent, partner in my wife’s ownership of the store. I do the financial analysis, marketing and all the back office stuff,” he explains.

In addition to running the store, and commuting most days from Cape Coral where they live, Nikki and John are parenting the children of Nikki’s daughter Sonceri. “Raising children is a gift of love,” says John. “Obviously, at our age, we weren’t planning on raising three young children. It’s challenging, but their energy level has also made us feel younger.” The key “is to give them the self-esteem they need to believe in themselves, and the basic skill sets to get along in life.”

That plan is especially challenging when it comes to 16-year-old Nathaniel, who is legally disabled, having been diagnosed with autism early in his life. The Simons have worked tirelessly to create a supportive environment for him and to advocate for his needs.

A core philosophy of Scout & Molly’s is giving back to the community. The Simons not only regularly donate proceeds to area causes; they also carry local brands that give back. This includes a line of jean jackets from Style Power Designs, which donates its proceeds to the David Posnack Jewish Community Center’s Camp Giborim for campers with autism and other special needs, in Davie, Florida.

“Fashion is not just about clothing and makeup; for us it is also about making a change in the world,” says Nikki. “After Hurricane Ian, we partnered with the Red Cross and had a red tent sale and donated 100% of that day’s proceeds. Just the other day, we donated store gift certificates for a charity auction to benefit the local Salvation Army.”

Carrying on a family legacy

Nikki admits it is maybe not a coincidence that she is now in the clothing business, given that her mother worked in New York’s garment district most of her life. “My mom did pattern making for a large company, and she also made wedding dresses (by hand),” says Nikki. Then her mom purchased a factory in New Jersey so she could manufacture her own women’s clothing designs. “From the age of 9 I was working in the factory, helping out in any way I could,” Nikki recalls.

And yet she didn’t choose that career as a young adult. Instead, she became an interior designer specializing in kitchens and bathrooms. But sometimes the past catches up with the present, and even moves into the future. That’s why Nikki hopes that Scout & Molly’s becomes a legacy she can pass on to her family.

“The mystery is that my mom used to sketch out dresses, and then create the pattern and make the garment. And now my 10-year-old granddaughter Sighya likes to draw clothing. She sketches dresses and is always asking me, ‘Grandma, when can I learn how to put them together?’ That’s not something she’s ever seen me or anyone else do.”

Posted on June 7th, 2023