Entrepreneur turns ruff time into new business
As is the case with most great creations, it was necessity that drove Beatriz Gunn to open her own business. It was 2008 and the company she was working at was downsizing. Add to that, she was going through the process of getting a divorce.
“I needed to find a way to make money. I started to do research to see what side jobs I could get, to at least have gas to get to interviews,” said Gunn.
Gunn had always had a strong affinity for animals, a passion stoked from childhood when she would frequently visit her grandparents’ farm; so when she came across an article about dog walking, she began researching how plausible it would be as a side job. Very plausible, it turned out. In February of 2009, Gunn started walking dogs and by summer, she had enough clients to launch a full-time business. Thus, Wiggily Waggily was born.
While she started the company doing just dog walking, she soon shifted her attention to dog boarding and pet sitting. It was a decision based on her own experience traveling with her young dog.
“I was flying from Texas to New York and had to put my dog in a crate in the baggage area. He was such a sweet dog, but by the time we got to New York, he was so scared. It took him a good year or so to get comfortable with people,” Gunn said. “That was one of the main reasons I wanted to offer boarding, so if people wanted to travel and didn’t have someone they could trust, I could give them that option.”
Through Wiggily Waggily, Gunn offers pet sitting services, where she goes to client’s houses to feed, walk and clean-up after cats and dogs, as well as in-home boarding, where animals can stay at Gunn’s Westbury home.
Prior to signing on a new client, Gunn has a meet and greet with the owner and their pet, noting that one of the things that sets her apart from other businesses is that she strives for personalized service.
“I always say to people, the more I can find out about the animal, the more I can give the pet the best care he or she needs. I want to be like a family member or friend they feel comfortable with,” said Gunn, noting that she always leaves clients her cell phone number. “I like to keep my business on a smaller scale so they have the ability to speak to me [directly]. A lot of companies don’t give that personalized experience.”
Gunn’s love of animals is not only evident through her dedication to her clients’ pets, but her involvement in numerous animal-related causes. Last year, she was able to raise close to $500 for Dog Fest Walk & Roll, which benefits Canine Companions for Independence, a nonprofit that provides assistance dogs to veterans and people with disabilities free of charge. At the end of August, when Hurricane Harvey hit the Houston area, she was able to raise more than $1,000 to help the rescue efforts of a no-kill/nonprofit animal rescue in Texas called Austin Pets Alive.
The small business owner attracts new clients mostly through word of mouth and with a nine-year company, Gunn has plenty of happy customers and their four-legged-family members to sing her praises.
“I pride myself in offering the best service I can offer to not just human clients, but dog and cat and pet clients, to make them feel comfortable and like they’re being welcomed into my family,” said Gunn. “And hopefully once they feel like they’re my family, I’m part of their family as well.”
Find out more about Wiggily Waggily at www.wiggilywaggily.com.