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I grew up always with a dog in the house, and I was always bringing stray animals home.

Why you do what you do?

I’ve been grooming dogs for about seven years. I started at a place that was pretty similar to PetSmart. It was vast and corporate, and they wanted us to groom a ridiculous amount of dogs every day, which didn’t really give anybody time to be compassionate or creative. So I decided to go into business for myself so that I could do more low volume quality work. So I could give the dogs the time they needed, especially if they’re nervous or have special needs.

What got you into work with animals?

I grew up always with a dog in the house, and I was always bringing stray animals home. I started working as a front desk representative at the first place that I groomed at, and one of the groomers just quit on Christmas Eve during the holiday rush. They needed someone to step in, so they kind of threw me in, and I got to get on the job training. I just stuck with it because I really liked doing it.

How was it transitioning from employee to business owner?

It was pretty seamless. It was easier than I thought it would be. I’m a pretty organized person, and I like to have things the way that I love them. I took to it naturally, first by making my own appointments. I wanted to have the freedom to build my schedule. Autonomy was important because I have Lyme disease. It’s an autoimmune disease that you get from a tick bite, and it doesn’t have a cure. So my health is a little bit up and down. Therefore, I needed the freedom to be able to know if I don’t feel well, I can take some time for myself.

So what have you been learning about business?

I learned to value and to make others appreciate my time more, because people will, unfortunately, take advantage of generosity. I’ve had to increase my hourly rate. People will bring me a dog, and they’ll underestimate how big the dog is, or they’ll minimize how bad the condition the dog is in, but if we already closed the price, then I’m just kind of out of that money.

What were some values that you have when it comes to doing business?

I’m not here to nickel and dime anybody. So if somebody hits me and they say, “I’m a single mom, and I can’t afford to get my not dog’s nails trimmed, and they’re growing into the dog’s feet because they’re so long.” I mean a lot of the time I’ll do it for a discounted price. I like to help dogs. So if I see that it’s going to be to the dog’s benefit for me to cut their nails or something like that, I will do it. I don’t have anybody to answer to; I have the freedom to do it.

Is there a tip you would give to dog owners about grooming or helping care for their dogs in-between visits?

Just start grooming as early as possible. Even if you think your dog doesn’t need a hair cut, know, most dogs do. They shed, and you’re going to need to take them to a groomer to maintain the shedding. They also need their nails cut regularly. I’ve treated many dogs that are three or more years old and have never had their nails cut. So they’re terrified of the experience and misbehave as a result. They’re traumatized after their appointment, so you definitely want to start grooming them as soon as possible and on a regular basis.

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Jenna Kempton | House Of Hounds Grooming

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