I must be nuts! At 50+ years of age I am opening a new salon. It seems like yesterday, but in fact it has been 20 years ago since I left the day-to-day grooming grind. At the time I owned and managed (well attempted to manage) three salons. My husband Craig and I were expecting our first baby dog groomer and I was absolutely burned out. The day to day grind came to an abrupt end when, at 6 months into the pregnancy, a very good customer (I had used her gorgeous chocolate mini poodle in competition many times) barged into the salon and accused me of being rude to her husband on the telephone. What? I stood with my mouth agape and wondered who was this monster in my customer’s body and why was she yelling at me? At any rate, after a moment of stunned silence on my part, I felt the trickle of blood running from my nostrils. It was time for me to hang up my clippers. This three salon, running myself ragged stuff for people like this was…well, just not worth it anymore. Besides, I was planning on breeding dog groomers in captivity and this kind of stress could have a negative impact on the prototype groomer still in the oven.
It was a tough adjustment. I was quite sure the customers and their dogs would be devastated without me. How were my employees going to actually get themselves up and out of bed and drive to work without me? They would miss me and everyone one would wish they would have been nicer, tipped bigger, not complained about the yearly price increase, been on time for work and appointments…surely, this would show them. Accept, the truth is, that in a matter of a couple months, the consensus was, “Karla who?” The new salon owners had found their stride, rid themselves of some dead wood (lazy employees) and were well into building their own meaningful relationships with the customers and their dogs. Wow, talk about a has-been that never was!
And so today, 20 years wiser, or maybe just older, I am opening a new salon; A Fortunate Dog Salon, Spa and Boutique. A year ago we moved our current business, PetSmith LLC (we do business on line as www.afortunatedog,com ) from our home to a warehouse. We had outgrown the space, and quite frankly my husband and I were pretty much driving each other crazy. There were days when I would roll out of bed, sit down at the computer, and at 6 that evening I would still be sitting at the computer in my pajamas, hair plastered to my head. This was not healthy. It was time to try to separate work and home life. Good luck with that! But, we agreed moving the business from the home would be a positive first step, atleast I would have to change out of my PJs to go to the office. Craig found the building. It is a 2000 square foot warehouse that sits behind a hair salon. As we pulled in to the driveway that very first time, the clouds parted and the angels sang, as I pointed to the beauty shop and said, “Wow! That would be a perfect location for a grooming salon.” We signed the lease for the back building warehouse and moved in over Labor Day weekend 2008. It felt like this was all meant to be.
Since that day I have talked about how I would love to open a salon and mentioned to our landlord that we were definitely interested in the front building if it ever became available. As the editor of Pet Boutique & Spa magazine, I have been talking-the-talk for a couple years, sharing great ideas from talented writers, and successful business owners, as well as pulling from my own experience and dreams for the upscale salon and boutique. Well, that front building has been ours now for a week and my brain is on fire trying to plan, organize, source and coordinate all the things that go into opening a new business. And please do not remind me that we are in the jaws of a recession, that banks are not our friends, and that a salon grand opening in January is well, untimely at best and ill-advised at worse.