Owning a small business is ‘paw’sitively rewarding
Photo and story by Kathy O’Reilly
When it comes to how she feels about running her own business, Sharon Magee doesn’t split hairs.
“I have loved doing this from the day I started,” says Magee, who owns and operates Pawsitively Furst Choice Pet Grooming in Storey’s Beach.
The second career began as a way to supplement her income as an educational assistant for School District #85. Having separated from her husband in 2012, Magee realized she could not make her mortgage payments on her EA salary alone. “I tried a variety of things and thought I might go into consulting,” she said.
However, having two dogs of her own that need haircuts, and seeing a need for the service in the community, Magee made the decision to become a groomer. In order to start up, Magee turned to Community Futures Mount Waddington.
“They were instrumental in helping me to start this business” and build her confidence to take the plunge. Not only did they supply funds, but a business plan template, and courses on how to start and run a new business. Family and friends, who have been excited “to see me make the journey”, have also encouraged Magee.
Unable to get away for an extended period of time with her work commitments, Magee first did an online course through JKL Grooming.
This included sending photos of her work as she progressed through the techniques and finally a video of a groom from start to finish in order to earn her diploma.
“Like any job, you need to continue on in your training,” she said. Magee has done this by attending seminars on techniques, new tools, and styles, including annual ones put on by Mastergroom Canada. “I have learned so much by going to these functions.”
Networking is also an important part of keeping up to date and sharing information. “It has been such a pleasure for me to meet other groomers who are like minded as far as the respect and professionalism that we bring to the industry. I have learned so much from other groomers and have made some very positive friendships by attending grooming events and seminars.”
In addition to grooming, Magee has also completed pet First Aid training, which she, fortunately, so far, has not had to use. “I haven’t had an emergency thus far in my shop, but because my hands and eyes are places where most owners don’t typically look at their dog on a daily basis, I have been able to let owners know if I feel a lump that should be checked out, skin abrasions that they hadn’t noticed, or an ear infection that needs vet attention,” she said.
“I have had two cases that I know of so far that have saved the dog’s life because of lumps that were checked out after a groom visit and they did have to be removed and were cancerous, but caught at an early stage,” said Magee. “It’s really important for people to know that their pets are in good hands.”
Magee has now retired from her EA position and made the decision to expand last year by increasing the size of the shop, located in her home, getting in a bigger wash tub to accommodate large dogs, and purchasing new kennels to hold dogs while they wait.
Magee has a 40-year background working with children and adults with disabilities. “I knew when I was a child that would be the direction my life would take, because I had such a passion for people that were vulnerable or faced life with challenges to ‘fitting in’. “I thrived on seeing people enjoy new experiences and learning new perspectives in order to gain independence, and change challenging behaviour issues,” said Magee.
When she began her new career as a dog groomer, it seemed like a good fit.
“I love the dogs that come through the door, the well behaved, and the ones that offer a bit of a challenge. I love the kisses I get when they are on the table, I appreciate the patience they have for having to stand for long periods of time, and the wags of the tails when they feel so good after they are finished.” Owners come in and tell the dogs how pretty they are and “it’s just rewarding to see the bond between dogs and their owners,” Magee said.
“So many things that they do are quite funny and adorable. It is just such a great environment to work in. It’s really rewarding, that’s what brings me such pleasure, too.”
“It is just such a great environment to work in. It’s really rewarding, that’s what brings me such pleasure, too..”
— Sharon Magee