Education Program for Aspiring Pet Grooming Business Owners | The Bark Shoppe

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ANIMAL INNOVATIONS SHOW - EPISODE 30 - THE BARK SHOPPE

Education Program for Aspiring Pet Grooming Business Owners | The Bark Shoppe

As with humans, ensuring that they maintain a healthy lifestyle and keeping up their appearance are also important facets of your dogs’ well-being.
However, not all pet owners have an idea where to start when it comes to grooming their Fidos.
To address this issue, The Bark Shoppe revolutionizes the pet grooming industry by working side by side with pet owners and pets in creating the next generation of highly trained and professional pet groomers.
This is mainly done through the education program referred to as “The New York Institute of Pet Grooming”. The Bark Shoppe launched the program for aspiring pet grooming business owners.

Inspiring The Bark Shoppe

Education Program for Aspiring Pet Grooming Business Owners | The Bark Shoppe Established by Melissa Mitchner, The Bark Shoppe is a premier pet care company that specializes in dog grooming. It is based in New York City and has been operating since 2012.
According to Melissa,

“Animal wellness is important and informing clients and pet owners that grooming is a part of their pet’s health and wellness. But then we just have this talent gap within the industry. We’ve seen, since the pandemic, an increase in pet ownership. Everyone has a pet, but not everyone knows how to groom a pet. And the current groomers in the industry are feeling the strain of that.”

Because of this, Melissa and the rest of The Bark Shoppe staff are joining forces to provide high-quality, in-person, and digital education and certification programs for those who aspire to join and thrive in the pet grooming industry.
Believing that it’s not what she leaves behind but, rather, what she actually leaves in people that matters, Melissa wants a legacy that turns her experiences into a resounding factor that will shift the room despite her lack of a pet care-related background.
She added,

“I love what I’m doing. I didn’t know nine years ago that this is what I would be doing. I truly just stumbled into the industry, and I love it, and I’m here to stay… I want your experiences at The Bark Shoppe to be world-class, the best in service. We understand that every pet has their own individual needs, and we respect that. And we welcome that. And we want pets owners to feel empowered, you know?”

The Bark Shoppe on Creating a Pathway to Entrepreneurship

With over a decade of leadership experience in supply chain management, Melissa is committed to bringing much-needed diversity and inclusion to the pet care industry with the use of technology, better working practices, and innovative business models in her arsenal.
To create the talent needed for the program, The Bark Shoppe partners with a lot of community organizations, non-profit organizations, and people who were previously incarcerated.
They also give a chance to those high school students who are looking for high school credits and those who are in the workforce development.
Melissa explained further,

“We’re more than just creating jobs. We’re creating a pathway to entrepreneurship in a growing industry… I always wanted to open a school. That’s been my vision. My background is in middle high school education. So, I said, ‘You know, looking at the school that I went tothe New York School of Dog Groomingthey really produce the best groomers within this industry.’ So, I said, ‘I want to build a Harvard of pet grooming schools. What is it going to take?’ So, we formalized this curriculum. And I’m really excited about that.”

Aside from changing the face of education and digital learning through The New York Institute of Pet Grooming, Melissa also hopes that The Bark Shoppe will be able to help vets learn how to run their practice.

“We have so many great things in store and just having fun. So, I’m excited for people to join us and join our journey and just look out for us,”

she said while closing the podcast.
   

Interested to know more about The Bark Shoppe?

Check out their website at https://www.thebarkshoppe.com/.

Have suggestions for who we should interview next?

Send us a message at [email protected]!

Melissa: Hi, My name is Melissa Mitchner, and you’re listening to The Animal Innovations Show.

Chris: Excellent introduction. So, Melissa, thank you for coming on today. Tell us who you are and how you’re innovating and helping animals.

Melissa: Yeah. So, I’m the CEO of The Bark Shoppe.

The Bark Shoppe is a premier pet care company, and we specialize in dog grooming. We are venturing into continuing education, so we’re helping animals by ensuring that we create the next generation of highly trained and professional pet groomers.

So, we’ve been open since 2012, and I always say I stumbled into the pet care industry, so I didn’t have any pets. I never grew up with a pet.

I worked in corporate with Best Buy for almost 10 years. I was watching a reality human TV show for Chicagolicious. It was a spin-off from Jerseylicious. And this woman was saying where she took her pet, how much she loved it.

And within 90 days, I had this crazy idea of emptying my savings and opening a brick-and-mortar. You know, almost nine years later, here we are.

It’s been an exciting journey. I think for me, like, I love when our clients see the end result of their pets and things like that.

But I think, now, I have a bigger vision for the company. And animal wellness is important, informing clients and pet owners that grooming is a part of their pet’s health and wellness.

And then we just have this talent gap within the industry. We’ve seen, since the pandemic, the increase in pet ownership. Everyone has a pet, but not everyone knows how to groom a pet. And the current groomers in the industry are feeling the strain of that.

So, we launched our mobile grooming truck. We have our flagship location, but then I said, “Wait a minute. We need more talent. How do we create the talent? So, we partnered with a lot of community organizations, not-for-profits, people that were previously incarcerated, high school students looking for high school credits, and then also workforce development.

Now, you know, we are launching the New York Institute of Pet Grooming. So, I’m super excited about that. It’s gonna be best-in-class, digital platform, and, you know, we’re more than just creating jobs.

We’re creating a pathway to entrepreneurship in a growing industry. And I’m super excited about that.

Chris: Tell me a little bit more about the Shoppe, right? Like, what goes on there, like what you’ve learned, kind of how you got this thing off the ground with no experience.

Melissa: So, I saw that episode in May. I enrolled in a grooming school in June, and we opened in August.

So, I did have a vision, and I was intentional about learning the industry, right? So, I’m a big believer in “Leadership starts from the top”, when you have to model that. So, I knew that I was not going to be a full-time groomer because that wasn’t my passion.

But, I went to grooming school to learn the industry, to speak the language, to really understand what it’s like to be a groomer.

So, I actually worked in dog walking. We were doing boarding and daycare, like, every year, we were implementing something new because I wasn’t a groomer.

So, I had to do something to make some money. So, I was like, doing dog walking. I was taking dogs home to my apartment. So, then, in year three, I said, “Wait a minute. Okay, now we have a lot of dogs.”

I had, like, a Honda Accord Coupe. I’m like, “I can’t take these big dogs over my car anymore.”

I was profitable. I said, “Let’s take the profits. I’m going to max out all of my credit cards as well.”

We flipped the store and did a complete renovation. So, we brought grooming upstairs, and then I opened this full-on dog run.

And I was like, “You know, we need to be a 24-hour pet care facility.” So, then, that was the big vision. Mobile grooming fell into that.

I was like, “This is the frontier of the pet grooming industry.” And I said, “I want a truck.” So, I went to work on a truck with Jessica Adorno from Pupparazzi Pets and learn that business.

Mobile is completely different from having a storefront. So, having to learn that, you know, water—you have to really manage your water, your time. It’s a really efficient, streamlined grooming process.

And then I said—I always wanted to open a school. That’s been my vision. My background is in education, middle high school education. So, I said, looking at the school that I went to—the New York School of Dog Grooming—they really produce the best groomers within this industry.

I want to build a Harvard of pet grooming schools. We formalize this curriculum. We really looked at every sector of grooming, whether it’s in-home grooming, salon grooming, mobile grooming. And I think—you know, groomers are creative, and they’re artists, and we make the marriage of artistry and business. I think that’s the missing element.

So, teaching groomers the importance of business and entrepreneurship and understanding your numbers.

Chris: Now, what is your vision? Is your vision to expand this across the country? I mean, certainly the University and the paying-it-forward and educating the community—

I love all of that.

Are you also planning a kind of brick-and-mortar to expand as well?

Melissa: Yeah. I want to spend nationwide before going global. That is my big vision, right? So, there needs to be a Bark Shoppe everywhere.

I feel like everyone needs to experience The Bark Shoppe and what we do. We really love what we do. Customer service first.

Community is a centerpiece of our business. So, continuing to build community across the nation and then doing it globally.

That is my big vision. And that’s my mission. That’s what wakes me up every day. That’s my “why” and just leaving something in people.

Chris: Yeah, and what’s really cool is—your mission, as you said, is so much bigger than just grooming.

Grooming is just the platform, is the way, and as you said, it’s kind of an untapped market. And I love the fact that you’re trying to bring more people into the industry and teach them about entrepreneurship and business.

And the grooming is just the aspect that you’re using to do that. And it’s just such a unique way to go about this. And I think it’s really cool, your vision to take this global.

So, now, you didn’t know what you’re doing when you got into this. It sounds like quite a journey.

What have you learned about yourself along the way?

Melissa: Definitely, as the business owner—patience, resilience, continuing to go 20 steps forward, 10 steps backward. I always say fail forward, and I’m going to do it anyway.

I think that’s the biggest thing because a lot of times, particularly when you’re pitching or you’re trying to enroll people in your vision or explaining things, it’s like you’re going to do this anyway. You’re doing this daily.

So, whatever happens, I’m going to do this anyway. It might take me longer. It might not, right, but I’m going to do it anyway. And I have to get really comfortable with that.

And I think the transitioning to becoming a CEO— because I had to find the right person to hand my baby over to—

Chris: Yeah.

Melissa: So, that was scary for me. But the great thing was that I went and hired my old boss. So, I went and hired my old boss, and he’s been amazing.

He’s a Vice President of Sales and Operations, so I knew that it’d benefit if I could hire someone that—he believes in community. He believes in the development of people. And he came out of retail and sales. He worked for Best Buy, NT Mobile—2 great dynamic companies— and he’s excited to be challenged within the pet care industry. So, that’s exciting.

I always knew that I was capable of doing things because that was instilled in me by my grandmother. But, I always say, “People can’t aspire to be what they don’t see.”

Particularly in pet care. We need more people of color in leadership positions, in board positions, executive positions.

So, I’m very passionate about that as well. I believe in giving people the opportunity, and whatever happens along the way will happen, and we’ll cultivate that.

But I think that’s important, too. For a long time, I was just the front desk person in my job. Like, oh, yeah, I’m just the front desk person. People didn’t even know that I own The Bark Shoppe. And then it was a young girl that came in, and she said, “You really inspired me.”

And I was like, “I’m going to let you in on a girl secret. Like, I actually own The Bark Shoppe.” And she was like, “What?”

When she came back to pick up her dog, she said, “Sharing your story actually inspired me.” So, from then on, I said, “I have to share my story. I have to share my vision because people can aspire to be what they don’t see.”

That, for me, is also important.

Chris: I think it’s amazing what you’re doing and your vision. I mean, nobody’s going to hold you back. I could totally see this going global.

Where can people go to learn more about it? Maybe if they’re interested in signing up and being a part of this, where can they go?

Melissa: THEBARKSHOPPE.COM, and you can follow us on Instagram @THEBARKSHOPPE

We’re constantly updating. Give us a “Like” on Facebook.

Yeah. We have so many great things in store, and we’re just having fun. So, I’m excited for people to join us and join our journey and look out for us.

Chris: Yeah. See where you’re going to take it. Most of this—it has been great learning about all this. Is there anything else you want to mention before we wrap things up today?

Melissa: Look out for the New York Institute of Pet Grooming. We are changing the base of education and digital learning as well.

If you’re interested in becoming a groomer, please reach out to me, or if you’re a great groomer, just listening, or you have a great company—always looking to connect with other founders and share ideas and thoughts.

So, New York Institute of Pet Grooming and The Bark Shoppe. We’re excited.

Chris: It’s really amazing everything that you’re doing. And I, for one, am definitely going to be following you guys because your passion is infectious.

And so, it’s really cool to meet you and see what you’re gonna be doing. And we’ll just remind our viewers and listeners. If you’ve got an idea for someone I should mention, someone with a passion like Melissa, just go to INNOVATIONS.SHOW, and let me know, and we’ll have them on the show.

Thanks again for coming on today, Melissa. I really appreciate it.

Melissa: Thank you for having me.

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