Marvellous Mum, Melanie Allen has a love for dogs so turned her passion into a business – The Jordans Pet Spa.
❖ Which part of the Chilterns do you live?
❖ Family members:
David Allen, Annabel Allen (12 years old), Cherry (10 years old).
❖ Sum up your business in a sentence:
I transform shaggy dogs to chic.
❖ What’s your career background?
My career background has always been in sales, 20 years in pharmaceuticals and the last 3 years Business Development Manager for Sunrise Senior Living.
❖ How did your career change after becoming a mum?
My career didn’t really change after becoming a mum. I had a year off work with both of my daughters, and having a home office job meant that I was always available for them if they needed me.
❖ What first inspired you to start The Jordans Pet Spa?
I had always wanted to run my own business, but I had on what is known as the ‘golden handcuffs’ and found I had too much to loose if I left. However in December my eldest daughter Annabel’s appendix burst and my sister developed breast cancer. I realised life was passing me by and no one knows what’s around the corner. I took a step back and asked myself what I loved in life (other than my girls) and the answer was Harry my cockapoo. We are priveledged to live in a beautiful setting with the space to open a grooming parlour and offer doggy day care. I have groomed my dogs over the years and it really was a natural move – being able to work with my favourite beasts, at home and be there for my family.
❖ And how did you move from idea to actually taking your first business steps?
I booked myself on a City & Guilds level 3 training course in pet grooming, animal first aid and animal handling. My husband and myself converted our wooden garage into our beautiful pet spa.
❖ What skills or experience from your career do you use in your business?
My previous career in sales and business development has helped me with networking and talking to people about what I am doing. I find it quite natural and easy to talk to people, but most importantly I am a good listener.
❖ Who is your target customer and how do you find and market to them?
My target customer is anyone who owns a dog. I usually carry business cards which I offer to possible interested dog walkers whilst I am walking Harry – this has my website address on it. I have put posters up on notice boards and am speaking to the local vets, pet shops etc. Most of my business to date has come from word of mouth, with 85% of my customers booking their next appointment. I offer a self service bath which is quite unusual, but I have been pleasantly surprised by the doggy day care and overnight stays that I offer my dog grooming clients dogs.
❖ What are the biggest challenges you have had to overcome in starting your own business?
My biggest challenge has been getting my pricing right. I was trained in Chiswick and therefore had access to London grooming prices. I want to be competitive, but I don’t want to underprice myself as I have invested in this business, and I am good at what I do. I think I have it right now, but will still ask my new clients what they were charged by their previous groomer.
❖ Your biggest successes to date?
Having the confidence to exit the corporate world and be able to forge my own path in a career that I am 100% passionate about.
❖ What’s your vision for your business?
My vision is to become the establishment in the area that dog owners will want to come to in order to have their dogs groomed and looked after during the day, in a homely environment. Also clients dogs can stay overnight when their owners can’t take them with.
❖ What has most surprised you about yourself in starting your business?
I feel that I have stepped right into starting my own business, almost as if I had been doing it all my life. My husband and father have always been self employed, so it was possibly a natural progression for me. I have never been happier.
❖ How do you juggle running a business and family life?
I have always juggled work and my family life, but for someone else. Now I am juggling a new business and a family life with a lot of support from my wonderful, hands on husband, David. David will walk my dogs, pick our girls up from school, cook meals and generally jump when I ask him to.
❖ What advice do you have for other mums who want to start a business?
My biggest advice is to do your research to ensure that what you are planning on doing will offer you a sustainable return on investment. Also you really should be passionate about whatever it is you plan on doing, as hopefully this will offer you longevity in your new career.
❖ How do you relax?
I enjoy spending time with my friends, whether it is dog walking, eating out, drinking coffee or wine or generally bringing the families together.
❖ What do you love most about where you live?
Jordans Village is a fantastic place to live with children and pets. We have 3 cats and a dog who have the freedom you’d wish for any pet. The villagers know our daughters and children can walk to the village shop or village green, promoting their independence. We know most residents and have a very good social life living here.
❖ Your simple pleasure?
Wearing bright pink lipstick.
❖ What’s your favourite tipple?
❖ Top dinner party guest?
Audrey Hepburn, as my favourite film is Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
❖ Favourite Meal?
I love Chinese food, nearly all dishes. I appreciate food being cooked for me as I have spent so many years coming home late from work. Maybe this is something I will do more of in the future.
❖ One thing on your bucket list?
I need to go to Peru to walk the Inca trail to Machu Picchu. I’m 50 next year so I need to get on with it.
❖ Website: www.thejordanspetspa.co.uk