Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in pet care but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Sophie Silcox, Co-Owner of Down Dog, located in Asheville, NC, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Down Dog is an all-in-one space offering a yoga studio and off-leash dog park and bar. Our ideal consumer is a dog owner looking to exercise and socialize their dog while also getting in some movement for themselves. Consumers can also use the spaces singularly - just attend the studio for yoga classes or just visit the bar for drinks and playtime with their pups.
Tell us about yourself
My sister and I started dreaming up the idea of Down Dog when I was 23 and living in Charlotte, NC. She was here in Asheville and had no off-leash dog bar to take her dog as I did in Charlotte. The idea of dog bars was popping up in a lot of cities around the country, and we figured Asheville needed to hop on the train. Knowing Asheville was a very active, yoga-loving city, we started to play around with the idea of incorporating a studio into the dog bar. The ideas and concepts kept developing from there, and Down Dog was born. It's such a unique concept and community, and I think seeing that every day keeps me wanting to continue. The connections that are formed here are genuine and long-lasting.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Surviving a pandemic, hands down. We opened in April of 2021 when Asheville was still masked up, and businesses had to be very cautious. As a business built solely on in-person services, we had to pivot and adjust. We did hot yoga in masks for months and had a rigorous cleaning protocol. It took months to see the volume that we knew was possible. It was a slow and steady growth as we came out of the pandemic, but it came. We built loyal customers during that time period, even without seeing half of their faces. I think it's a testament to how strongly we believed in what we were doing and how dedicated we were to our customers. If we can make it through that, I have faith we can make it, period.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
For me, it will always be managing people. I don't like being a 'boss' and having to tell people what to do. I also get quite attached to people, but the reality of our business is that people come and go. It's a part-time job for all of our employees, and their lives and circumstances change, which means they move on. It's hard for me not to take it personally, but it's something I'm working on.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Ask questions. Find people that are doing what you want to do and ask to meet. Get all the information you can from as many sources as you can. Do your research and due diligence.
- Think long and hard about why you want to start the business. Your heart has to be in it, or it won't be worth it. If it's just because you want to be your own boss or because you think it'll make you rich, rethink it. It is so much harder than you can ever prepare for. There's so much responsibility and stress. You have to know that what you're doing is serving a purpose for others. That will shine through and get you further than anything.
- Hire a good accountant and bookkeeper. Even if you're good with numbers, it's worth it to know the financials are in good hands and that everything will be done by the book.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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