Kristine Johnson, a Parkwood resident, is no stranger to hard work. She currently works two jobs: one a sales job for Verizon in Exton and the other as a part-time dog groomer from a dog salon she currently runs from her house, Pampered Pups Grooming Salon.
“The goal is to get it so I can do this full-time and get a storefront somewhere,” she said.
When coming back from her day job, Johnson takes clients during the nights or the weekends, making for little free time. But she’s determined to build her client base and follow her dream.
“When I first started, I just told all of my friends. And they started telling all their friends and so on. Right now I have about 60 clients. If I want to be doing this full-time I need about 500,” she said.
“I’ve always loved animals. I have two dogs and a cat [that] I own and I volunteer at Animal Control in North Philly. I have two foster kittens from there that I’m working on getting homes for right now. I would always take my dogs to the groomers and think, ‘I’d really love to do this,'” she said.
So she decided to go get training and, in March of this year, began taking on her first clients.
“Some of them ask for medical advice, which I don’t give because I’m not a vet,” she said, “But for the most part, the owners come in and we talk about the dog so I can get to know them and their behaviors.”
One of the benefits of having a small business such as a dog grooming salon is that Johnson is able to get to know her clients much more intimately.
“It seems like there is a need for small groomers in the area, as for the most part the only options in the far Northeast are the chains like Petco and Petsmart,” she said.
“And if you take your dogs there, you have to wait,” she said. “You put your dog in there and they have to wait like two hours. When my dogs [used to] go there, they would have to wait five or six hours and they wouldn’t get water or walks. With me, I only go by appointment, so you’re dog will be the only one in there and will get all my attention. I try to get to know the customers and figure out the dog’s history and behavior, so I can make sure they get calmed down.”
For instance, recently she had a client whose dog was nervous about getting groomed.
“I was grooming this Pomerenian who was a puppy, about a year old. And he does this thing where, even if you’re not hurting him, he does this little scream or yelp. The only way to get him to stop is to sing to him. So the entire time that I groom him I have to sing to him,” she said with a laugh.
But whether or not people decide to stick with the larger chain stores or not, Johnson is adamant that dogs should go to professional groomers.
“When you take your dogs to the groomer, they feel better. They’re clean, they’re not matted, and they get checked for conditions that the owner may not notice like skin problems or external parasites like fleas or ticks,” she said. “The groomer will notice that, and will check the teeth. Plus, having dogs’ nails cut regularly is important because they can go lame if you don’t get them trimmed.”
As of now, Johnson is focused on continuing to grow her business and is dreaming of her future.
“I really love it; it’s so much fun. I can’t wait for it to really take off and find a storefront somewhere, where I can train one or two other groomers with me,” she said. “I’m thinking about actually training my sister, who is really involved with the rescue as well. We’ve been talking about having a rescue and grooming shop eventually a couple years down the line. It’s something we’d really like to do eventually.”
Photos provided by Kristine Johnson.