Our official state’s government website [we’re in Indiana] was very clear when it stated grooming was nonessential. Doing the right thing in this situation was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do in my life. Our country had fallen down and was in the middle of a pandemic crisis. Living and pursuing the American dream suddenly didn’t matter anymore. The world just stopped. It was no longer about living a dream. Instead it was all about the fight for survival—survival as a small business owner and survival as a person, mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Of course, I wanted to break the rules at times. I wanted to be grooming all of my clients’ dogs in a business-as-usual mode. I absolutely wanted to be able to hire all of the employees I had to lay off back. I missed their smiling faces. I missed working side-by-side with them in the hustle and bustle of our grooming salon. I also found myself really struggling with the controversy around all of this. There was so much misinformation, judgment and fighting happening, not only in our industry but around the world.
My clients’ sadness and disappointment when I had to tell them we couldn’t groom their dogs due to a government order restricting us from doing so hurt my heart every day with every single phone call. Some customers became extremely upset with the situation and took it out on me over the phone. Those phone calls really caused me a lot of anxiety. I had no choice over the matter; I did my best to realize it was probably not really me they were angry with. It was the whole state of the world at the time that was causing their angst and, unfortunately for me, my phone call cancelling their appointment was just the last straw. I really tried to stay humble with these customers and handle them with care instead of getting defensive.
Doing the right thing doesn’t always feel good. Staying calm and putting one foot in front of the other in the right direction while struggling with massive amounts of insecurity, angst and fear caused by this global pandemic was a perfect example of that. There were a ton of things going on in the world that I didn’t agree with. But I also didn’t have the answers as to how to fix the problem. There were so many things I had prepared for as a grooming salon owner, such as having an evacuation plan for all of my employees and pet clients in the case of a fire. But I never saw this coming. I wasn’t and couldn’t have been prepared for this. Was I going to lose my business because of it? Or was I going to adapt and overcome? How do you even do that in a situation like this? It felt like everything had just been taken from me and the more I thought about it the angrier I got.
For a while I couldn’t put my finger on where exactly this anger was coming from and then it finally hit me, it was because of the complete powerlessness I felt. Our business had been given the label “non-essential” and that really hurt me deep down. This business was essential to us, my employees and my customers. We had always done our part to meet the government’s needs by paying taxes and here they were now calling us non-essential. We were a place of business that gave jobs to people. People that needed money to support their families. I didn’t see those who worked for me as just employees; I saw them as my family.
We don’t just groom dogs, we also save lives. We find cancer. We find symptoms of other bigger underlying problems. We use our compassion to take in shelter dogs and give them makeovers so that they have a better chance at a new family. Grooming, while not the totally who we are, is heart that pumps blood throughout our business. I didn’t expect the nonessential business label to change, so I had to work through all these emotions. In doing so, I realized I was strong and was going to stay that way. My team was also strong and they were going to stay that way. That had never changed. So I kept the faith that we would make it.
During the month that we had to remain closed, I found ways to keep myself busy. My husband and I completely revamped the retail side of our business. We had been dreaming of changing things around in our store to offer more raw feeding options and less kibble. So we invested in a huge six-door glass-front freezer. These freezers were so big that we actually had to have a glass company remove our front windows so we could get them into our little shop.
There is no way that would have gone well if we had clients coming in and out. It took us two weeks of working every day to get the store looking good. And I must say, it looks absolutely amazing and we are so proud and grateful. I also recorded several videos to help my clients groom their dogs at home. Groomers typically don’t want clients grooming their own dogs due to the risk for injuries and the mess using inappropriate tools can cause. In this case, my customers had no choice.
My first video pertained to nails. I explained the pros to dremeling their dog’s nails versus cutting them. I explained and showed how to see the quick, even on the dreaded black nails. I showed my technique on how to hold the dog and how to hold the dremel. The feedback I received on this video was more positive than I could have ever imagined. It was shared hundreds of times and I had so many people reach out to me and tell me how helpful the video was and that it was the best one they had seen. I was even asked by an extremely popular influencer in the pet world to do a FB live about it on one of their podcasts. That was an amazing experience.
I continued to do more and more videos, from how to bathe your dog safely and effectively to how to brush, comb and maintain their coats. The feedback I received each time I posted a video was always so positive. People kept telling me how helpful they were. I even had one lady tell me that my brushing video had been life changing for her. How cool is that! The more I posted, the more people started following Platinum Paws on all of our social media outlets.
I no longer felt powerless. I no longer had anger, frustration and fear ruling my life. I had found my strength. I was helping other people find their way, too. This was my victory over the darkness of this pandemic. Helping someone else is the most amazing gift of all. The power in that is stronger than almost anything life throws at you. There is always good that can come out of bad and this is a perfect example of that. We made it through to the other side and when we opened up our doors again, our customers were all there ready to come back. And boy did we make a comeback! I’m so grateful for the strength this experience gave me. And my business, well it is stronger than ever and I didn’t even think that was possible.