Keeping Black-Owned Pet Businesses Connected | Black Pet Business Network

Animal Innovations Show - Episode 115 - Black Pet Business Network

Keeping Black-Owned Pet Businesses Connected | Black Pet Business Network

Did you know that African Americans only make up less than 4% of the pet industry’s demographics?

Lashonda Geffrard, founder of the Black Pet Business Network, aims to change all that.

In the words of Lashonda,

Our primary goal is to help with the diversity and inclusion issue that we have with the pet industry.”

Black Pet Business Network and a Host of Impactful Organizational Efforts

As someone who admits to doing a lot of different things to help all shareholders in the pet industry, Lashonda wowed us when she said that she dabbles in almost everything.

To illustrate, she’s a professional pet groomer by day, the owner of The Paw Shop in Sunny, Orlando, Florida, and the founder of Paws of Hope.

Just a bit of background, The Paw Shop is Lashonda’s bread and butter, while Paws of Hope is a nonprofit organization where Lashonda and her team rescue animals.

the paw shop grooming

Their primary focus is keeping the pets of low-income to no-income families happy and healthy.

Apart from that, Lashonda is also the host of Black in the Pet Business, a new podcast that focuses on giving pet owners information, reviews, and other things that will help them have happier, healthier pets.

Considering how productive she is, we asked Lashonda where she got the passion for all her business endeavors.

Here’s what she said:

“Growing up, I was not allowed to have any pets. My parents hate it. I wasn’t allowed to have dogs or cats or birds or anything. But I grew up really very passionate [about animals], and I think that fueled me to want to learn more.”

In fact, as is the case when something you want so bad just seems out of your reach, Lashonda, at a young age, threw herself into animal science and canine behavior to learn a lot about dogs.

“My primary focus was dogs. I just love everything about dogs, and I love everything about animals… I tried to pursue a career in veterinary medicine, but then I literally I stumbled upon grooming… And I was like, I don’t like math or science anyway. I’ll just do this instead.”

Calling her decision the “best thing ever”, Lashonda has never looked back.

Connecting Black Pet Professionals and Petpreneurs With Black Pet Business Network

connecting black-owned pet businesses with black pet business network

Saying that she does “everything for animals”, Lashonda eventually established the Black Pet Business Network as her way of giving back to her community.

For any business, you owe your community. You’re responsible to your community for a magnitude of different things… So, yeah. I love being able to give back.”

This love for giving back was initially what gave birth to Paws of Hope.

At first, it was about Lashonda noticing that a lot of pets coming into her salon weren’t updated on their vaccines or were in poor conditions.

Wanting to make sure that they took care of everybody, Paws of Hope then gave birth to the Black Pet Business Network, a community that supported people like her.

As the founder of all these wonderfully helpful organizations, Lashonda is out to prove that making them all successful is possible.

“Our goal is to really go further and also help create scholarships, small business grants, workshops, seminars, retreats and everything to really help inspire and motivate and keep small businesses in the black community, in the pet space alive.”

 

 

Learn more about Black Pet Business Network!

Go to their website at https://www.blackpetbusinessnetwork.org/.

Have suggestions for who we should interview next?

Send us a message at [email protected]!

Lashonda: My name is Lashonda Geffrard, and you’re tuned in to The Animal Innovations Show.

Chris: Tell us who you are and how you’re innovating and helping animals.

Lashonda: I’m the owner of The Paw Shop, here in Sunny Orlando, Florida.

Chris: Were you somebody that always had pets as a kid and then this is just carried on through your life?

Lashonda: I grew up really just very passionate, and I think that fueled me to want to learn more. I’m a certified “dogologist,” if there was ever such a thing.

And it’s just because I started at a young age and I threw myself into animal science, canine behavior— really a lot about dogs.

My primary focus was dogs, but I just love everything about dogs and I love everything about animals. And then as I transitioned, I tried to pursue a career in veterinary medicine.

I do everything there is to do when it comes to animals, and I’m grateful to my business, The Paw Shop, my primary bread and butter, to allow me to do that.

Chris: You took a pivot, and now you’ve made that your passion. So, tell me more about The Paw Shop and what you guys are doing.

Lashonda: So, with The Paw Shop, we’re really doing everything. I’m so grateful because being a pillar in the community is so important to me for any business.

You owe your community, you’re responsible to your community for a magnitude of different things.

But, yeah, I love being able to give back. And honestly, that’s how Paws of Hope was birth, because I had a lot of families, a lot of individuals coming into the salon, and they weren’t updated on their vaccines, where we noticed that the dogs were underweight or overweight or the dogs were in just really poor conditions, but not so bad to where their owners— it was kind of a money issue.

Like, the owners just couldn’t afford to keep up  with the regular grooming or they needed guidance and education. They didn’t really know how.

So, I’m really—like literally on the railroad tracks.I have a beautiful community in front of me, and then I have people who are very deserving behind us and also help create scholarships and small business grants and workshops and seminars and retreats and everything to really help inspire, motivate, and keep small businesses in the black community.

In the pet space alive.

Chris: So, now— Paws of Hope, I’m kind of getting the timeline down here because you were doing the grooming salon, and then you started Paws of Hope.

I mean, was there something that caused you to start that? Was it the clients that kept coming in? And how do you go about defining your mission?

Lashonda: So, The Paw Shop opened in 2015. We created—and I say we, my husband, and my team, we created Paws of Hope 2017.

So, it was just because of what I was seeing in the community and what I knew as a child. I grew up in a wonderful middle-class family.

But I did have a lot of friends and family who own pets, and they needed support and they needed guidance. And here I am, just a kid. They relied on me.

I would literally take my own money, and I would go buy dog food. I would go by pet supplies. I would go buy whatever I could with just the $5 I had in my pocket at the time as a kid.

So, it really flourished. And I think that— for me, it just became my life’s mission. After being in the salon and working professionally on this side of town, I just noticed the need.

As I said, animals were coming in and they weren’t properly groomed or the owners had no idea of what was required. Some of them would be underweight, but the biggest thing was that, there were no vaccinations.

And what we do is we just have annual events. And every year, we do free rabies, free vaccines. We do free well-checks. We have a doctor on-site. We always take donations, and we’re always giving it out and asking no questions.

We just get general information about your pet, and then we assign you what we have in inventory.

Chris: love that.

I can feel your passion and your desire to really help. I mean, that’s really what it is. You’re very— you know, you’re not selfish. You want to help them in any way that you can, and you want to learn and you want to grow the community.

And this brings you joy, doesn’t it? It brings your passion out. I mean, 

Lashonda: I absolutely love it. I do it for free. I do this in my sleep. I love everything about it. And it doesn’t feel like work.

When you’re truly passionate about something, it doesn’t feel like work. And none of it ever feels like work.

And if anything, my husband, he fusses at me. He’s like, “All right, go to bed now, or it’s time to come home.” “It’s time to shut down the shop.”

“It’s time to get off the phone.”

Because— I’m driven and I really would like to— for me personally, leave a legacy that keeps people together and that my children will be proud of. My husband will be proud of.

And that people can say: She really did impact and change the industry. And I think that’s my personal goal.

Chris: I love that! I am right behind you.

I can feel your passion. I want to support you. I want to be able to tell people in five years. I knew her then, right.

She was on my podcast. She wasn’t just running her own television network. She’s on my podcast.

Lashonda: That’s right.

Chris: So, Lashonda I mean, if there are people listening and they want to learn more about all of this stuff that you’re doing, where do they go?

How do they learn about the shop and the rescue and obviously the network?

Lashonda: So, they can reach out to me at The Paw Shop I know on social media we are THE_PAWSHOP or you can reach out to BLACKPETBUSINESSNETWORK.ORG so, there are a lot of different ways.

Chris: I mean I really love all the stuff that you’re doing and I can feel your passion and as I wrap up my show today before we have you on another time, I just want to remind our viewers and listeners, I mean if you’re listening to Lashonda like I am and just feeling her passion and, you know, you’ve got an idea that’s going to help people help animals, we want to know about it.

Come on the show, talk about it. Even if it’s just an idea, if you haven’t launched the product yet, it’s okay, that’s what we’re here for.

So, go to INNOVATIONS.SHOW, tell us about it.

And if you’re somebody that wants to give back and wants to get involved in animal rescue, become a Dooberteer, just go to WWW.DOOBERT.COM where you can be a transporter, a foster home—there are so many different ways and like Lashonda we have some new ways that we’re coming out with here in a couple of months.

Lashonda, thank you so much really excited you came on and I’m looking forward to having you on the next episode.

Lashonda: Absolutely, thank you. Thank you so much for the opportunity.

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