Mobile Entrepreneur Works for Cats and Owners
EMBERS Ventures alumna and Salon Kitty owner Cheryl Spencer is one of the only mobile cat groomers in Vancouver that makes house calls. Biking from home to home, Cheryl puts cats and their owners at ease for often stressful, yet much-needed health procedures.
Cheryl always had knack for working with animals, but she never envisioned herself becoming a self-employed cat groomer. Having worked in advertising, television and film, and pet grooming, Cheryl accumulated valuable administrative and customer service skills that would be essential to managing her small business. It was in pet grooming, however, where she saw a clear need for mobile cat grooming.
“Most cats have separation anxiety and can smell dogs in grooming salons,” she says. “I thought: Why not meet them in the environment when they’re most calm, where they’re able to see their owner?”
Cheryl’s dream of running her own business was merely a dream until she was laid off from her job one day and realized she needed to find meaningful work.
“I went to WorkBC, and they encouraged me to become trade-skilled. I brainstormed things I wanted to do, but then remembered – I already had a skill in grooming. I thought: How could I connect with that skill but also make a living and be self-employed at the same time? That’s when the WorkBC Self-Employment program administered by EMBERS came up.”
Cheryl enrolled into the Self Employment Program, which helped her construct a business plan using simple lesson plans that removed any fears. “Financing and accounting were scary and almost put me off of doing my business,” she said. “But the modules we worked on took away my anxiety, because it simplifies it down making it easy to understand.”
With the support of the instructors, classmates, and especially her mentor Dylan, Cheryl was able to navigate the first few months of her business with ease. “Having a mentor is great because there are things that come up that you don’t know who to look to or turn to. They help keep you on track and touch base with you every so often to see where you are. I think I lucked out with Dylan because we have a great working relationship.”
Like any new business owner, Cheryl initially struggled with not receiving a regular income, but found that the rewards outweigh the challenges.
“When I am self-employed, I have more control over what I do, when I do it, how often I do it. I work with cats who are more comfortable at home than at salons where dogs are, and there’s no need to pay rent – your biggest expense.”
“I also received positive reviews and that boosted my confidence. It cemented the fact that this was happening, that this is working, that I am quite good at this, and this is something I can do long term until I can’t pedal anymore.”
The value for lifelong learning that Ventures instilled into Cheryl keeps her motivated, and she looks forward to developing her skills as a cat groomer. Cheryl is currently completing online courses in hopes to become a certified master groomer, a designation that’s equivalent to that of a senior hair stylist.
What was once a lofty dream is now a reality for Cheryl. She now advises others who are also considering to become entrepreneurs to get appropriate training.
“The group, trainers, and mentors really helped me get my idea off the ground and believed in me when I struggled in believing in myself.” she said. “If you have a solid business idea, have researched it, and think it’s viable, I would thoroughly recommend checking out the EMBERS Ventures Program, because you would know at the end of the course whether it’s viable or not.”
If you know a cat owner who would like a quality in-home cat grooming experience, visit www.salonkittyvancouver.com.