12 questions for Taria Avery of Avery's Mobile Pet Styling
Taria Avery is a pet lover who took her passion to the streets by starting her very own mobile pet salon: Avery's Pet Styling Salon & Boutique. We chatted with the Philadelphia entrepreneur about her business, her misson, and got some tips on keeping pets happy and well-groomed.
What is your own personal background as a groomer and pet lover? What made you want you want to start your own business?
I always had dreams of starting my own company; I just wasn’t sure which industry was calling my name. However, once I became mother to Avery, the sweetest chocolate brown lab in this world, my calling soon followed.
At the time, I was working my way up the corporate ladder of one of the top three management-consulting firms in the world. Which meant I also joined the ranks of pet parents with hectic schedules who had to deal with the anxieties, headaches and sometimes horror stories that went along with sending my baby to the groomers or leaving him for over-night stays. While traveling for work, I would leap at the opportunity to take Avery on the road with me whenever I could, but there were times when I had to leave him in the care of others. Finding professional caretakers with a loving touch was challenging, and there is no reason leaving your fur-kid with the groomer should be a stressful situation—but it was!
What many people may not know is the grooming industry is not regulated nationwide, so there are no consumer protections in place to keep your fur-kid safe from renegade groomers toting clippers. That is when I noticed an opportunity to revolutionize the pet grooming industry–fur-kids and their parents deserved better: convenience, more accountability, customization and quality.
A higher level of care and professionalism was needed in the grooming industry, and I wanted to be the one to deliver the service. In 2006, I traded my corporate lifestyle for an apron and a pair of shears and went back to school to become a Certified Pet Groomer. We believe in supporting families and treating everyone with the utmost respect and kindness.
Why did you decide to go mobile rather than occupying a storefront?
Mobile grooming is personal and convenient. I wanted to offer a service to help ease the minds of pet parents, while adding to the quality of life of their fur-kids. Mobile grooming allows us to do just that by delivering ease and peace of mind for pet parents, and maximum comfort and care for pets. Fur-kids experience less stress and/or separation anxiety because they don't leave their home. They receive one-on-one, individual attention from our professional groomers and are not sitting in a cage all day waiting for other customers to finish up, or in a facility with countless unfamiliar pets. Our certified pet groomers come right to our client’s front door and provide their fur-kid with undivided attention, love and care in a self sufficient mobile grooming salon. This stress-free environment is healthier for pets, and more accommodating for pet parents.
You believe regular grooming should be a part of everyone’s pet care routine. How often should one consider preening their pet?
Yes! Regular grooming is a must if you want to keep your fur-kid happy, healthy and smiling. While not a replacement for your veterinarian, professional groomers are able to help recognize issues that may require medical attention. We are like your first line of defense. To get a general idea, I typically discuss each fur-kid's health history, past grooming experiences, and pet parent preferences before assessing the best regimen for our client’s fur-kids. There are some common guidelines to consider, though. Breeds with a thick undercoat will greatly benefit from a de-shed every 3-4 weeks (or more during summer weather). Pets with light colored fur should opt for a "facial" every few weeks to eliminate tearstains. Those with oily skin should be exfoliated to prevent odor and build up. Floppy-eared fur-kids may consider more frequent ear cleanings to help deter ear infections. There are countless other health and lifestyle factors that influence a pet's grooming, which is why it is important to always take the time to discuss what your specific needs are.
You make it clear on your site that the products you use are all eco-friendly. What are the benefits of using natural products versus chemical-based products?
Our eco-friendly products are beneficial not only for the environment, but also for all our fur-kids. Some shampoos and other commercial products can dry out or irritate skin. Some contain chemicals that leave residue on skin or coat and eventually cause build up. When using natural, plant derived products, the risk of allergic reaction is minimized, there are no harsh ingredients to cause itching or dryness, and no residue left behind. Because the spa products are all natural, they are sustainably made and contain fewer pollutants than conventional products. It's no coincidence that they work better for our fur-kids and for the environment. I feel very strongly about our environmental responsibility and preservation— it's one of our core values.
Are you planning on taking your business outside of Philadelphia? Any plans to expand to regional suburban towns?
Actually, I'm constantly expanding the business and the area it serves. I recently procured a third mobile salon, which will be put into use this July in the 8 counties we currently serve between Pennsylvania and New Jersey. This will allow Avery's to keep up with the growing demand for our services. Avery's Pet Styling currently serves the city of Philadelphia and surrounding suburbs in the Delaware, Montgomery, Chester and Bucks counties, and southern New Jersey in Camden, Burlington and Gloucester counties. We make every attempt to accommodate requests from outside the current service area, especially as demand for our service continues to grow.
Do you deal with clients who have other furry companions? Aside from the usual cat and dog?
Funny enough, most people are shocked when they learn we specialize in grooming cats also, and once they find out that is usually the next question to follow. At this time, however, our priority is to care for cats and dogs in need of mobile grooming.
If people are unable to attain your services, what should they look for in a groomer?
Finding a certified groomer is a great place to start. This ensures that the person handling your fur-kid(s) is trained and educated on proper techniques for bathing, styling etc. Customer reviews are important too. Groomers with a strong customer loyalty are more likely to customize for you and deliver a quality service. Ask for references or check online for a portfolio. It's a great idea to "interview" a groomer and have an open dialogue. Express any concerns you have and make sure each concern is addressed. The right groomer for you is one who will be flexible enough to meet all of your needs. The most important thing is that you and your fur-kid(s) feel comfortable with whichever groomer you choose to work with.
Can you name some of your favorite local Philadelphia pet businesses, pet supply stores or adoption centers?
That’s a tough one. The pet care industry has so many different facets, including veterinary care, retail, grooming, rescue, boarding, and there are so many professionals in our area who share our same love and enthusiasm for fur-kids— I would hate to miss anyone. With this in mind, we've recently launched a networking group called The Delaware Valley Animal Care Professionals. It is a platform for all pet-centered businesses or individuals to come together, share ideas, establish relationships, seek employment etc. We hope our membership will continue to grow as we deepen our roots within the communities we serve in the 8 counties across Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
With the weather getting warmer, can you recommend any at home grooming habits that can help reduce shedding–for both dogs and cats?
Be sure to brush cats and dogs as often as you can. Keep fur-kids cool and relaxed by offering plenty of fresh water. Also, regular grooming will significantly reduce shedding.
What are your tips, as a pet owner, for keeping furry companions happy and healthy in the city?
Fresh air and exercise are irreplaceable for our fur kids, but this can pose a challenge for some city dwellers. For dogs, plenty of long walks (or runs, if possible) are essential. Also, consider joining a reputable dog park. This should be fenced in, clean, and have a source of fresh water. Cats, even those who stay indoors, remain active with toys and scratching posts. Of course, it's always a good idea to talk with your veterinarian about healthy lifestyle options.
Can you tell us a story about something funny that happened while grooming an animal?
There is never a dull moment when we are with our furry friends. Each fur-kid we groom has so much personality and charm, it would be hard to pick out just one story. We enjoy all the time we get to spend with each fur-kid and their pet parents.
Do you have pets of your own, or is grooming other people’s fur kids enough for you?
Grooming other people's fur kids is incredibly gratifying and I love everyone’s fur-kids as if they were my own, but there is nothing like coming home to my three every night. My babies help energize me. My oldest is Avery, a chocolate lab; then we have Garbo, a miniature schnauzer and ultimate hug charmer; and last but not least a kitty who thinks she is a dog, Tiger Lily.
Visit averyspetstyle.com for more info or call 877-5-AVERYS