Sometimes life-changing moments just happen, without the slightest hint of fanfare. Emily Ashmore, the owner of Pride and Pedigree dog grooming in Shady Shores, is happy proof of that.
“I had a great job, with a six-figure salary,” Emily recalled, “but I traveled so much there was no space to enjoy the rewards. Plus, at the time, I was feeling the stress of my dad being ill.”
Emily has always been a “dog person” and, somewhere in her soul, felt she’d spend her time working with them. That happened, suddenly, when she was 40.
“My husband, Daniel, and I were walking our dogs one night,” Emily said. “Out of nowhere, my mouth opened, and I said, ‘I can’t do this job anymore.’ We got back home, and I called my boss with a one-month notice.”
A lot of people were stunned, but Emily lost little time putting things in motion. She knew she wanted to be in business for herself. She grew up with a mom who sold Avon, and who taught her daughter she could do anything she wanted – including having her own business.
“I didn’t want to be responsible for employees,” she said. “I wanted to make my customers happy, and I felt the best way to do that was through complete autonomy, relying on just myself to make things work.”
Emily enrolled in Texas All Breed Grooming School. It was a three-month course for $6,000 and….she hated it!
“Oh, I did hate it,” Emily laughed, “but Daniel encouraged me to stick with it. I did and I ended up gaining so much worthwhile experience from the other students. I also did some hands-on work at Fireplug Inn. I started grooming part-time out of my house in 2016.”
Emily developed a business model geared to making her customers, and their dogs, happy.
“I decided to restrict my clientele to small dogs, 25-pounds and under,” she explained. “I know owners don’t like taking their pets to the groomer’s and having them stuck in a kennel for five or six hours. It’s too much stress, and the whole experience becomes negative. That results in a very unhappy client.”
Pride and Pedigree became a full-time endeavor quickly. Emily felt she was at capacity by 2017, which is a very fast growth curve.
“I never expected to make as much money grooming as I did at my previous job,” Emily admitted, “but I also wanted some free time for things I enjoy, such as gardening and baking. I have around 150 clients, and I’m not accepting new ones at the moment. Some are ‘regulars,’ scheduled every two weeks for full grooming. Others are just bath and nails. It’s my responsibility to know my clients’ expectations and to meet them. So far, I’ve had to ‘break up’ with very few owners.”
In 2017, Emily read a Facebook post by the Lake Dallas animal shelter. “It said the shelter needed blankets,” she remembered. “I threw that out to my clients, and they ran with it. Walmart had the perfect blankets – great weight, easily washable, and only $3.00. We made it an annual Christmas project and, so far, we’ve donated 999 blankets! We’re probably going to add other shelters to the list.
“Clients and friends also participate in a supply drive in July. Animal shelters go through a tremendous amount of cleaning supplies, paper towels, and detergent to wash all those blankets! Most of them can use as much help as possible, and animal people can be incredibly generous.”
Emily has no regrets about her decision to walk away from those six figures. She’s happy. She bakes and she gardens. She collects and she donates. She feels confident and successful. She also knows the value of quiet walks with dogs.