Today, I want to introduce you to a best friend of mine, Allie, her doggie Sammie, and her business, Yappy Walks. Allie and I have been friends to elementary school (yes, folks, that’s ages ago). She is the jelly to my peanut butter and the “giddy” to my up. Seriously, though – she is great.
I am beyond excited for her and Yappy Walks. Yappy Walks was founded in 2012 in Denver, Colorado and the amount of success she has had in such a short period of time is incredible. Yappy Walks was founded primarily as a dog walking company, but has already found opportunity to expand into pet sitting as well! Allie and her little buddy, Sammie, are obviously doing something right! Maybe it’s her insane love and passion for pets, her unmatched drive to succeed, orrrrr maybe it’s just because she is part super-human (at least I’m convinced that last part it true!). She is sure making ‘JFaye’ proud! Way to go, girl!
You know those crazy relationships in life that are evidence that “all things happen for a reason”? That people appear in your world when they are supposed to? That the universe, God, Tom Cruise, or whatever higher power may be at play for you personally lead you towards and away from people relationships and experiences? Well, I feel that way about my JFaye. Sometimes our lives parallel is such a weird way that I often wonder if we weren’t separated at birth. I sometimes don’t think my life would have has much happiness, color, and laughter without her. Someone who “gets” you in the most loving, understanding, and supportive way is something to be cherished…. I even went so far as to tell Jess on her wedding day that I believe we were the soul mates and our significant others were just going to have to be the next best (and I love Craig!) 🙂
What inspired you to begin Yappy Walks?
If I’m being completely honest, it was pure and total unhappiness that drove my motivation to begin Yappy Dogs, LLC (DBA Yappy Walks). I had taken a job as Director of Tennis at an athletic club, which only made sense after the completion of my Master’s in Sport in Performance Psychology. I dabbled in many “adventures” in the field struggling to find my passion. It just wasn’t there. I was the definition of miserable. I lost my love, passion, and meaning in the sport I loved so much by making it a full time job. It was thankless. Let me clarify one thing: I love the sport of tennis. My sanctuary, stress relief, and happiness had always been somewhere on that court. I also enjoy teaching tennis. I am good at it. It was a healthy challenge. Yes, I was compensated well, but at what expense to my body and my heart? I simply realized “working-for-the-man-corporate-life” wasn’t me. My mind was controlled. My body was tired. My creativity was stifled. Not to go all Socrates on you but I found myself asking the questions: “What is wrong with me??” “Why am I not happy with this great paying profession in the sport I [used to] adore?” “Am I lazy”. These questions eventually lead to deeper questions such as: “What was the meaning in my life?” “What do I TRULY want to do?”
My wake-up call came when I was on a hike with my dogs and I twisted my ankle. My first thought was “Oh my gosh! I hope it’s bad so I don’t have to go to work this week”. Umm, yeah. That’s not a healthy thought process! Who WANTS to be hurt?? My now “It’s complicated” boyfriend at the time was so amazingly supportive and understanding…. even though I can only imagine how awful I must have been during this time period. We had so many late-night conversations regarding me, my career and the direction of my life. He is the definition of a person “doing what they love”. As a graphic artist, he works from home, loves on his dog, works his own schedule, and is allowed to be one of the most amazingly creative individuals I know. After many a longggg conversations I decided I could take two paths: 1) Create a business as a Sport and Performance Enhancement Consultant or 2) A dog walking/pet sitting company. It took me ANOTHER 10 months to realize I really didn’t enjoy option 1 and that I felt it HAD to be an option due to all of these superficial reasons…and the fact I worked my heinie off for two years to earn that degree!
Wow…that’s a long way in saying the following:
- I knew I had to run my own company.
- I knew that I could run an awesome, unique, energetic, solid dog walking/pet sitting company (with learning from the mistakes of pet sitting companies I had previously worked for)
- I knew I loved dogs, cats, gerbils, guinea pigs, chinchillas, even the occasional frog
Mostly, I just knew in my heart that I was meant to work with animals.
Inspiration for that awesome logo?
Well, previously-mentioned-it’s-complicated-graphic-designer-boyfriend had an illustrator draw my two favorite things in the world: My little white Bichon Frise, Sammie and his big black Swiss Mountain Dog, Garmin. So they are the stars of Yappy Walks’ logo. He put them into a logo for my Christmas gift. Best. Gift. Ever. I just love it!
Why do you think you’ve found so much success so quickly?
A few reasons:
1) My clients are awesome. Word of mouth has been my best friend. I have a secret “weapon” that allows clients to see amount of time my company spends with their pets during visits, a map of where we walked, and distance walked. We also take pictures and send them to the owners during the day. As a pet owner, is there anything better?? I think not. It helps facilitate and maintain the trust and rapport built during the initial meet-and-greet. Hiring a dog walker can be a scary thing….it’s someone who has access to your house/garage key, alarm codes, and everything in your house when you are not there! I have heard such horror stories of people paying their dog walker for a 60 minute visit only to find out they were there for 5 minutes (On a tangent…that disgusts me….shorting the owner is one thing…but what about those poor pups who have waited all day to see you?!? Rarrr!)
2) I am extremely particular about who I hire (see next interview question!)
3) Great marketing advice from Mr. It’s Complicated. I have treat bowls with homemade treats and my information in every dog friendly liquor store, pet boutique, and grooming parlor in my target area of town.
4) Planet Pet – a rescue boutique in Denver, Colorado. Those women there are just phenomenal. They have such amazingly huge hearts, love their critters, and are incredibly knowledgeable about everything pet related!. For all of you Denver people, I highly recommend getting your pet food and supplies from them. They are located in the Berkley District on Tennyson street. They have taken the time to personally get to know me and, therefore, have pointed many clients in my direction. I am so very grateful for them and their thoroughness. They don’t just recommend anyone!
5) Lastly, and probably most important: I had a vision and I am a firm believer in manifesting. I have a mantra for how much I want to make, the types of clients I wanted to attract, the types of dogs I wanted (I have the SWEETEST and BEST LOOKING Yappy Pack!), the individuals I want to hire, etc. It has helped solidify my goals quicker.
You’ve been so successful, you’ve already hired on some help! How exciting! Can you tell me a little about her?
Was I ever blessed to find this girl! Her name is Jacque and works at Planet Pet. She LOVES critters and is terrific with the pups. Within the first 3 minutes of meeting her I knew she was a great fit for me and my company. She is so eager and willing to help. She’s been wonderful about taking the late night visits (otherwise I would be sometimes working for 12 hours a day!) and bends over backwards to take walks when my days get too long.
Besides dog walking, what other services do you provide?
We offer pet sitting as well as overnight visits for people who go on vacation and are not into boarding their pooches. I love this service because my Sammie is one of those dogs who would be overwhelmed and depressed at a doggie daycare or a boarding facility.
I also make a variety (gluten free, wheat-free, peanut free, etc) of homemade treats as my “down time” usually on Sundays. I totally love this. I enjoy trying recipes out on my dogs and my clients’ dogs…some have been popular….others not so much 🙂
Where do you hope to see Yappy Walks in the next 5 years?
Well, my company name is Yappy Dogs, LLC. I intentionally left it open so I can expand. I don’t have any solid plans as of yet. I am focusing on growing my clientele in Denver right now. I’d like to go national with the dog walking/pet sitting eventually (probably into Madison and Milwaukee, WI next). Then I’ve thought about a poo crew that sanitize backyard pet play areas, boarding/doggie daycare centers, treat making, dog food, and training. I feel the possibilities are endless. I get to use my creative mind, my physical body (I’ve been known to put on 9-12 miles a DAY!), and my heart to love my clients and their pooches. I seriously think I have the best job ever. Whether it’s snowing, blowing, raining, shining I never feel that I have to “go to work’. I feel that I am out, doing what I love, with the creatures I love, for people (clients) who are just flat out wonderful. I feel animal people are kind kindred souls. I am lucky to be surrounded by so many wonderful individuals-both human and canine!
Thanks, Allie! That Yappy Pack is a good lookin’ crew! And, so for all of you Denver-ites who haven’t previously considered dog walking services, or for those looking to change companies, check out Yappy Walks! At the very least, check out the Yappy Walks website and see all she has to offer (treats, exercise, and a whole lot of love)!