How a dog grooming business helped its owner overcome life’s bites

D.ogs don’t judge, said Amanda McIntyre as she sat in the foster shop she’d built from the ground up with a frugal $ 5,000 and experience of a life changing business program.

“I’ve been judged all my life,” shared McIntyre, who founded Classy canines after overcoming a tumultuous battle with addiction. “But when it comes to dogs, they just come in with their tails wagging and they are so happy to see you. When the customers come to pick them up, they are happy and the dogs are happy. It’s so satisfying and so rewarding. “

McIntyre opened Classy Canines on July 1, 2020 in Independence, Missouri. She was able to deposit a deposit on her store front after a 7:00 am to 11:59 pm shift in another salon and received a check for $ 2,000 that week. McIntyre quit her job in the other salon in late May and worked all June to get her shop down.

Even during COVID-19, McIntyre recognized the need for dog grooming.

“A lot of people told me I was crazy and irresponsible to open a business during the pandemic,” McIntyre said. everything will work out. ‘”

click Here to learn more about Classy Canines.

McIntyre was introduced to dog grooming through 2019 The care project – The Parent Empowerment Pilot Program (EPEC), a Kansas City-based not-for-profit organization.

EPEC founding CEO Natasha Kirsch launched The Grooming Project in 2016 as a two-generation approach to breaking the cycle of poverty, she said. It is a six to nine month program that requires 644 hours of hands-on care to complete. Kirsch decided that the first iteration of the program should focus on dog grooming after her own mother’s options as a dog groomer expanded.

“I knew my mom made a good amount of money, and she could still be flexible about picking me up from school and leading me out of trouble. Especially now, when you’re a mom who has two or three different jobs to make ends meet, you can’t be home raising your child, ”explained Kirsch, noting that The Grooming Project is trying to mothers helping with young children.

When McIntyre first met with the team at The Grooming Project, it was the first time she felt truly seen and understood, she shared.

“They actually cared about what I needed and what I wanted,” said McIntyre tearfully. “… It’s hard to put into words what the organization has done for me and so many other people. To be honest, I would be dead now without her. ”

Amanda McIntyre and Ashley Weisel, Classy Canines

Amanda McIntyre and Ashley Weisel, Classy Canines

Find family

McIntyre’s protracted battle against drug and alcohol addiction began in her teens when her parents divorced, she recalled.

“My mother started drinking,” said McIntyre. “That left me at home a lot. I started using drugs and drinking at a young age. I could walk around and do anything because I thought nobody would care. “

Decades ago, McIntyre lived at her lowest point in her car and had nothing to do with her name. But after years of struggling with addiction, McIntyre has been sober since 2013 – an accomplishment she achieved well before The Grooming Project, she said.

The past eight years have not always been a rosy picture of sobriety, she said, noting that she was tempted to revert to old habits. Fortunately, McIntyre was able to take her own life into her own hands, relying on her support team when needed from family, friends, and the staff at The Grooming Project.

“I’ve found my family,” she enthused. “My mother passed away in October and I could easily have started again. Instead, I had the skills and people that I needed to get through. ”

A member of McIntyre’s newfound family: Ashley Weisel, a graduate of the Grooming Project and now a groomer at Classy Canines. Hiring a graduate of the program is a breeze, McIntyre said.

“I just don’t trust other people,” she admitted. “I don’t trust their knowledge and their commitment. I’m not going to hurt our brand for someone who doesn’t understand it. “

Natasha Kirsch, The Nursing Project

Natasha Kirsch, The Nursing Project

More than a nursing school

The nursing project has a 100 percent success rate in finding jobs for its students, with some women earning up to $ 60,000, Kirsch said. Although she is proud of these numbers, she is very grateful that the students can see themselves in a new light, she said.

Women who have gone through the program have often spent their lives being told that they are not good enough, they explained. Because of the program, McIntyre and Weisel were able to erase this false narrative and create one in which they are worthy of the good things, they shared.

“Someone who helps can be anything that someone who is dependent needs,” said Weisel. “We want better; we don’t want to live like that. If we get the help, we can actually turn it around. Natasha is working really hard on it. … Now that I’ve met Amanda and the girls, I’ve got help. I can do this. And I actually do believe that. “

The main secret behind The Grooming Project’s success: It is designed to remove barriers in students’ personal lives so that they can thrive in and out of the classroom, Kirsch said.

“We offer full service – dental care, legal care, eye care if you need glasses – and we have about 80 partnerships with other nonprofits and businesses in town,” said Kirsch. “… A lot of what we do is hire different partners to make sure we can take care of each student’s needs.”

A partner, Bob Sight Ford At Lee’s Summit, Kirsch agreed to sell cars to graduates at the expense of employees. Another partner First Bundesbank, is working to give students bank accounts that otherwise would not be able to open an account. The bank has also teamed up with Community Services League lead a financial literacy course at The Grooming Project.

Tuition goes well beyond nursing and business. The program also teaches students about soft skills and meditation. The meditation class helped McIntyre immensely at home, she said.

“[My son] is on the autism spectrum, ”noted McIntyre. “I took the mindfulness class and applied it to my son and it was 180. He is excellent at school and really listens.”

“Meditation is really about taking care of yourself,” added Weisel, noting that self-care is extremely difficult for people with depression. “We have learned to ground ourselves and keep our emotions under control. … To be in the dark for so long and then finally to see what needs to be fixed is how- “

“It’s like wearing your thick pants to the buffet!” Exclaimed McIntyre.

In addition to teaching, The Grooming Project is now positioned to provide student accommodation and is opening newly built dormitories this month.

click Here to learn more about The Grooming Project.

Classy canines, independenceClassy canines, independence

Always sunny in independence

Just like The Grooming Project was welcomed with open arms at McIntyre, McIntyre is doing the same for her clients at Classy Canines, she said.

“Customers will never be ashamed of themselves here,” she said. “My employees will never be ashamed. Nobody is allowed to be rough with a dog. All those horror stories you read on Facebook – that doesn’t happen here. ”

Amanda McIntyre and Ashley Weisel, Classy Canines

Amanda McIntyre and Ashley Weisel, Classy Canines

A decade ago, and before attending school, McIntyre remembered a dog that she brushed regularly but that still had matted hair. Instead of teaching snow groomers how to properly brush the lower layers of fur, she was ashamed.

“Nobody had this conversation with me. Nobody cared about it, ”said McIntyre. “It stops here. I want this salon to be the game changer. We want to pass on our training so that the client and the dog feel better. ”

McIntyre goes above and beyond to ensure owners and their dogs feel welcome in the salon, enthused Kirsch.

“She has a selfie station in front of her where customers can take photos of their dogs for free,” said Kirsch. “She writes thank you notes to her pet parents and really cares about her pets. I really think that is one of the reasons for their success. “

Classy Canines has served nearly 200 customers in less than its first year, McIntyre said. McIntyre plans to expand its shop for the rest of 2021. She hopes at some point to be able to tear down an adjacent wall to create a larger space for nursing, boarding, and even teaching her own nursing courses, she said.

Even on the tougher days, McIntyre and Weisel said their unwavering commitment to the love and care of dogs motivates them.

“I’ve literally had 60 or 70 jobs in my life and dog grooming is the only thing that satisfies me,” said McIntyre. “I am driven by dogs. That’s my thing. I want to be a positive spot in a terrible world. 2020 was really dark for a lot of people, and this salon was our little sunshine in Independence. “

To make an appointment at Classy Canines, call (816) 673-1200.

This story is possible thanks to the support of Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, impartial foundation that works with education and entrepreneurship communities to create unusual solutions and empower people to shape their future and thrive.

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