This banker-turned-dog-groomer travels nationwide to help pet parents – Marketplace

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My Economy” tells the story of the new economic normal through the eyes of people trying to make it, because we know the only numbers that really matter are the ones in your economy.

In 2020, Americans spent more than $100 billion on their pets. Of that, $8.1 billion was spent on services like pet insurance, training and, yes, grooming. By one estimate, the global pet grooming market is expected to reach $14 billion by 2028.

Brian Taylor, New York City-based owner of Harlem Doggie Day Spa and organizer of The Pup Relief Tour, was a banker until his love for hair styling and his passion for animals led him to become a dog groomer. 

He started Harlem Doggie Day Spa in 2010 and opened up his second location in 2016. Taylor’s spa offers daycare services, dog walking, cage-free boarding and transportation.

Things took a turn once the pandemic hit. “At the beginning […] I lost like 90% of my business,” Taylor said.

He decided to put out a call on social media: “I was like, hey, listen, I’m starting a pandemic relief fund for pet parents who weren’t able to get their dog groomed and who lost their job, all I ask is for a donation,” he said.

Based on those donations, The Pup Relief Tour began. According to the website, it’s “a nationwide initiative to help pups and pet owners who are experiencing hardship […] a two-day pop-up event, offering free grooming and salon services to pups in need.” 

The GoFundMe page for the free grooming initiative has pulled in more than $85,000 in donations. The money raised goes to supplies, dog food and to make accommodations for Taylor and his team to travel.

Brian Taylor with a white poodle.
Brian Taylor with a white poodle. (Courtesy Tayler Smith)

Taylor said funding has been hard to raise and that he invests personally when he doesn’t raise enough. Last year, he and his team members traveled to Philadelphia, Florida, Alabama, Texas and Las Vegas.

They’re currently planning for this year’s tour, the third. “The first thing we do, we just put our feelers out to the pet industry, and ask people who own salons if they’ll be interested in hosting a tour — we start recruiting groomers,” Taylor said.

Touring has also given Taylor an opportunity to reach out to underrepresented pet industry colleagues. “I was able to reach out to a lot of African American groomers who wanted to give back and also wanted to represent minorities in this space,” he said.

“So far, we’ve already done over 1,500 dogs and we’ve been to 12 states and my ultimate goal is to do all 50 states and groom over 10,000 dogs.” 

For Taylor, the mission behind the tour is simple: “You want to find a way to give back every year, to [give] a little bit of your service to people in need.”

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