Successful Black Women with their Own Pet Businesses
The unconditional love our pets give us in turn makes us love them very much as well. Sometimes, this love can inspire people to do great things.
Following is the story of one young pet lover who turned that love into her dream. It also doubles as an inspirational story in honor of Black History Month, with a “Yes, you can” message for young people of color everywhere.
A child’s dream
This story begins when love of animals inspired one little girl to become an entrepreneur at the age of eight! Five years later, her company is going strong.
Her name is Ava Dorsey, the founder of Ava’s Pet Palace. As early as six years old, the Chicago teenager wanted to make sure that all pets could have healthy pet treats made with tasty, quality ingredients, and that their pet parents would be able to obtain natural, organic pet food.
It took two years of asking, but Ava’s parents finally let her start her business. It started small, but then took off, especially in the summer of 2020, when people began sharing Ava’s Pet Palace on social media.
Nowadays, Ava’s mother works for her full-time, and they process and ship three- to four-hundred orders per week. They have customers in all 50 US States, as well as in Canada, New Zealand, and the UK.
But Ava’s not done yet. On February 5, in honor of Black History Month, she started a Kickstarter Campaign designed to bring a new flavor treat into the product line. Currently, Ava’s Palace has cheese bites, peanut cookies, banana oat medley, and salmon snacks for dogs and cats.
Next up: She hopes to introduce crunchy Alaskan salmon chips, for both dogs and cats.
Ava isn’t just concerned for pets as an outside observer. She has a dog and a cat of her own that she loves very much and, like many people, she’s very health conscious. On her site, she says, “People are concerned about what they feed their family members... and this includes their pets.”
As her website states, Ava has “always had big dreams for (her) business and is thrilled that these dreams have now turned into goals that she can reach!”
Her ultimate goal, though, is to be a veterinarian, and from her story so far, it’s hard to doubt that she will turn that goal into a reality one day as well.
A woman’s success
Another young Black girl who grew up into an adult who realized her dream is Melissa Mitchner, a Bronx native who opened her business, The Bark Shoppe, in Harlem in 2012. They offer dog walking, grooming, day-care, and pet boarding in a 24-hour facility. They also offer their own line of grooming products.
Melissa’s story began when she started working at Best Buy as a teenager, quickly moving up the ranks and learning things about logistics, business, and management. She eventually became an executive assistant on the district level, which included opening stores and hiring staff.
Eventually, though, she was laid off as part of a restructuring that left her thinking, “Okay, now what?” She happened to catch a reality show episode about pets, and the next day looked into statistics on pet ownership in the U.S.
It was eye-opening, and she knew what she had to do. That was in May, 2012. In July, she took a walk from the top of Central Park at 110th Street up to 135th in Harlem, and this is when she discovered St. Nicholas Street, and fell in love with it.
The corner space at 100 St. Nicholas Street was for rent. She signed the lease in July and opened the business in August, although it took 90 days to start to develop a clientele. Fortunately, she had learned before going in that having money to cover six to eight months of expenses is necessary.
Her family helped out with this on the condition that she finish her Master’s Degree, so she regularly commuted from the shop to the Bronx, leaving for two hours every day.
Nearly nine years later, she’s planning to expand and branch out. In turn, the success of her business has allowed her to give back in a big way. To support underserved communities, she has partnered with various organizations, like Bronx Connect, Fedcap, Pathways to Graduation, and Friends of the Island to provide internships.
She hopes to help introduce people of color to the pet care industry and motivate them to get involved.
Both Ava and Melissa remind us again of the power of love and turning our dreams into goals and then realities. The love of and for our pets can help motivate us to do it.
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