A question I tend to get a lot is, “How did you start a dog grooming business/become a groomer?” and, depending on my mood, you might get different answers.
The short of it is that I love animals and it’s what I did to pay my way through college so I just took it to the next level. I love the feeling of accomplishment you get when, after just a few short hours, you change the way a dog looks. You free them from their discomfort, you get them clean and smelling good, and in such little time you can SEE the difference. Instant gratification.
The real answer to how this all started? It was the easy option.
Ok, ok, it wasn’t easy. But it was easier than you think and easier than the ultimatum I gave myself.
Let me start from the beginning.
I went to school for Film, Electronic Media and Film at Towson University. The first year of college I lived with my aunt and uncle, graciously, and I needed a job. There were a lot of places I applied, a screen printing place, the media department at my church, Build a Bear, and a few other places. I started out doing clerical work at my college and working my high school job, but I knew I needed something more, something better than that. I was offered two different jobs and had called to accept one of them.
Then, after having had an interview at Petco as a bather, and calling them back a few times, I finally got the call back that I had the job. I had to call the other job back to tell them I wasn’t interested anymore, canceling my first day with them. Awkward, but I did it. Honestly, I can’t say exactly why working as a bather at Petco was so important to me, but it was. It was important enough to push for it and turn down two other job offers, and quit my high school job (which I loved, I worked for my friends’ dad doing media related things). I guess I just really wanted to work with dogs. Dad, Mom, I blame you for never letting me have a dog 😂.
It’s strange thinking how different life would be if I didn’t take that job that day. That simple job that lead to, thus far, a ten year career. So I was 19, I met some amazing people, and by one of these amazing people, believe it or not, was pressured into learning how to groom. That’s right, I didn’t even want to be a groomer. Back then it seemed like a lot of responsibility and I just wanted to get through college, but a good friend of mine built up my confidence and said some great things about me. With that momentum, she then taught me how to groom.
I’m not going to lie, it was hard working at Petco. I remember having some not so kind co-workers and some not so kind customers bringing me to tears on many occasions. Not to mention the mistakes. There are ALWAYS mistakes- how do you think we learn to do a good job? After two year it was clear that Petco wasn’t for me. Let’s be honest, corporate retail jobs lie somewhere between difficult and horrible.
After Petco I worked for a few private dog grooming salons.
You’re wondering now, is she getting to a point? Who cares about all the places you worked. Chill dude, it’s part of my story, I promise it’s important and at the end I’ll give you my short-long answer (so please jump to the end if you’re impatient, no skin off my back). After working for 3 small business owners I had one question that drove me- how the hell are all these crazy people running their own successful businesses?
Maybe that sounds mean and I like to believe that these people I used to work for are doing great now and have worked through a lot of their issues. Just take a minute though, to think about all the places you worked that made your stomach churn. The places you were afraid to ask for a day off just for your sanity or for your birthday. The places you worked (and I pray you haven’t had this) that felt like a sweat shop and you kept your head down to keep from drawing attention to yourself. Yes, really, I worked in a dog grooming shop that felt like I couldn’t speak without having anything I said used against me. Man, the days that the owner wasn’t there were the best. Let’s be realistic though, I was working for someone else and it was never going to be what I wanted. A realization I made at 21.
As a college graduate I gave myself an ultimatum. I said, Ellie, if these people who lead with fear and make me feel horrible can do it, why can’t you? I gave myself a year to mull it over after college. My two options: move to the west coast and pursue a career in Film or start a dog grooming business because if I was going to groom dogs for the rest of my life, or any indefinite amount of time, it was going to be on my own terms and not someone else’s. That’s how it happened. After one long year of working full time after college for other people I decided I was done.
My last straw was feeling so sick to my stomach that I wouldn’t even ask my boss off for my birthday. I knew I couldn’t work there anymore. Instead of asking for off, I took the passive route. A few days before my birthday I went back to work late at night, took my equipment, locked up, and threw the key through the mail slot. I text the owner I was done and turned off my phone to enjoy an abysmal night of freedom before the reality of starting a business sunk in.
The few months to come between May and August 12th were some of the hardest I’ve lived through. Not working, living off credit cards, begging people to rent space to a silly young groomer determined to be a better boss/business owner than everyone she had worked for. But everyone who needed to came through for me. It was stressful, but I got the chance I needed. I worked the hours I had to. I opened a dog grooming business that’s still standing 7 years later.
So how did I become the owner of a dog grooming business?
It was easier than moving across the country and following my dream of working in film.
I know, not the most delightful way I could put it. But remember, I’ve said before, you can’t give up on your dreams. Writing and Film are so incredibly important to me. I love my job, but true happiness is met with ink and paper, story, score, and screen.
Here’s to a delightful life of grooming, writing, following your dreams, and sticking it to negative bosses who make you feel like $h!!! If you have a dream pursue it, if you don’t, find one.