Cash Confessional: How a millennial dog groomer grew from a PetSmart cashier to entrepreneur
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Amber Moore is a former military brat who moved around a lot as a kid, spending time in both Fayetteville and Germany. She’s always loved dogs, and she’s always been entrepreneurial. In May 2019, she combined those two passions and opened her own dog grooming shop, Bubbly Pups, where she offers cuts, baths, dental care, deshedding treatments, and other services.
At her shop, a 2,000 square-foot space in southwest Charlotte, Moore, 32, wears many hats. She’s the owner and manager, but she also does a lot of the grooming and bathing of the dogs herself. She balances all of that with her most important job: Being a mom.
(The following has been edited for clarity and brevity.)
What is your background in pet grooming?
I’ve always worked, even as a kid. I’d go around with a lawnmower. As a teenager, I was a cashier at PetSmart. One day I asked managers if I could work in the dog grooming department. The hard part was working with girls, a bunch of them, in a small space. I’ve been grooming for 14 years now.
What made you want to go out on your own and open Bubbly Pups?
I’ve always loved animals, and I’ve always known I wanted my own business. When I became a groomer, I realized I needed my own space. I think things need to be done a certain way. When I worked as a groomer for other employers, customers would request me specifically. I was destined to have my own store.
Can you tell me a bit about that process — what were the biggest hurdles in opening a business, how much did you have to invest, etc.?
The hardest part was finding a location. So many places wanted you to already have an established business. Money part was a little bit of a struggle, too. I did get assistance from my mom in the form of my first and last month’s rent. I did not take out any business loans, though.
How have you grown your customer base?
The first thing I did, which was awkward, for anyone I saw walking a dog, I would hand them my card with an offer for $10 off. I did neighborhood ads. Social media helped out, too. A lot of my growth has been through word of mouth and Nextdoor.
How has the pandemic affected your business?
Early on, I shut down for three weeks, which was not as long as other businesses. I kept getting customers requesting appointments, so I reached out to the state to get a letter to be deemed essential, which I got. For a while, I did curbside. I had one employee quit because she’s pregnant and felt uncomfortable working during the pandemic. Another time, a customer tested positive for covid, so we shut down for a week.
Have you sought specific pandemic-related relief like a PPP or a grant from the city, state, or county for the business?
Yes, I received one loan from the Small Business Administration. It gives me a little more comfort. When I shut down, I thought I would be set back a little.
If you could give one piece of advice to 22-year-old Amber, what would it be?
Work harder on your credit. You can do a lot more with good credit. I would love to be owning a home as opposed to renting.
What is your No. 1 piece of financial advice?
Budgeting and staying organized. I’m a single mom, so I’m balancing a lot.
Want to read more about personal finance? Find our Cash Confessional series here.
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