Former Vandyke student Katie Smith read marketing and psychology at university, but found working in the industry boring and heartless.
Six years ago she got a loan from her mum and set up Rascals of Woburn. And she’s never looked back.
“I love it,” she said. “I can’t imagine doing anything else. Every day is different, every day is fun and challenging. And you can’t help but love all the doggy customers who come in.”
Katie, 31, worked for two years as a volunteer at an animal shelter in Orange County in the States, and that’s what gave her the idea of starting her own business.
“I came back with no money but set up in a small outbuilding in Woburn Sands,” she recalled. “My original plan was to sell niche products like dog biscuits and designer collars but a government business adviser said I’d also need to provide a service.”
She did an intensive six week grooming course and worked nights pulling pints at the Star to pay the rent.
“Grooming is far more technical than you think,” she said. “You have to learn the health and safety aspects, the anatomy of a dog and all about parasites and other problems before you get on to basics like bathing and drying.
“Then you start clipping – the standard cuts for each breed – followed by scissoring of heads, tails, feet, ears and skirt.”
There’s such a demand that Katie has taken on four extra staff and has just started grooming classes.
> Visit www.woburnvillage.co.uk/rascals.html