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Conversations with the Inspiring Laura Gaskin

Today we’d like to introduce you to Laura Gaskin.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I started out working in Doggy daycares. I remember seeing a young female groomer with pigtails come in to groom the daycare dogs. She was putting bows in their hair, and painting nails. That was when I thought “I want to do that.“ It was like a dog beauty salon in my eyes. (Little did I know, what goes on behind the scenes before getting to put the fun finishing touches!).

I didn’t know where to start at that time. Back then, YouTube had just started up, and there was hardly any information on the internet on learning to groom dogs. I worked at a few places under veteran groomers. I scoured the internet on any dog grooming info I could find. I’m proud to say I’m self-taught. I worked at some vet offices, boarding facility, and high-end dog boutiques. I made mental notes about each place. The things the customers liked and didn’t like. What I as an employee liked and didn’t like. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. My first business was buying candy at Cost club and then selling it at the playground. I had a neighborhood cake baking business as a child. When I was a teen, I would make a cute “business card/calling card” cards for my classmates. It never took off. I dropped out of high school when I was 17 and got to work. I knew without an education I would need a skill/trade. I now own my own dog grooming business. We are going on year three of the doors being open, and business is thriving.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It was a bumpy road. I made some mistakes and learned from them. I always knew to evolve or die. Keeping up with trends and new techniques is crucial. Listening to what your customer base wants. My advice to women starting out is to trust the path you’re on. It may take you somewhere you never imagined. Have a thick skin, and take the criticism you received as advice. I remember my first complaint. I wanted to be angry and defensive. It’s natural. Keep mental notes on what people like and don’t like.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into The Shaggy Dog Parlor story. Tell us more about the business.
I own a dog grooming business. We specialize in hand scissoring and adorable teddy bear faces. I believe the reason my business is a success is that I feel that my shop is a home away from home. When you come in the door it’s like you’re at my house. I want to make the customer and pets feel at ease. Taking time to talk to people, and listen is crucial. In my business, trust is key. The customer is leaving their beloved pet in my care. You can’t build a relationship if you’re not up at the front or behind a desk in the back.

What do you feel are the biggest barriers today to female leadership, in your industry or generally?
The dog grooming industry as a whole is dominated by females! One of the biggest insults I received from a male employer was “You’re getting tough, but you are still just a woman.” I’ve never forgotten that, and sometimes the best way to motivate a woman is to tell her she can’t do it. The toughest, inspiring, and motivational bosses I’ve had were female. One of the biggest barriers to me personally is striking a balance of being a boss and a parent to two young children. The parents at my children’s dance class thought my husband was a single dad for the longest time. It is hard.

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Image Credit:
Laura Gaskin, Ashley Starling

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