Alena LaSoya always knew she wanted to work with dogs, but wasn’t sure in what capacity.
She found an answer two years ago, shortly after moving to Odessa from Houston, when she decided to open her own mobile dog grooming business.
Since then, her business, called “Woofers Mobile Dog Grooming” has since taken off as her list of clients has continued to grow.
“Back in 2014, I was a dog trainer, but I wasn’t sure what field I wanted to be in,” LaSoya said. “I knew I wanted something to do with animals. So then I started moving towards grooming. I worked in a salon and then found that I liked the one-on-one time with the animals. It just makes it so much easier for them. It’s so much more calm for the animals and peaceful.”
Not many people may know that mobile dog grooming businesses exist, let alone in Odessa but it’s a concept that LaSoya says appears to be catching on.
“There are so many people here and the idea of mobile is starting to catch on and they’re starting to like that idea,” LaSoya said. “My name is being spread around like wildfire. I’ve been getting referred to.”
That includes her list of clients.
“It’s pretty neat,” LaSoya said. “Some of them didn’t know. I’m from Houston and it’s a huge thing there. I didn’t know if there were any mobile businesses. I came here to work for somebody, but found out that everybody has their own business and that’s what I did. I started in a trailer and worked myself up to get this van.”
One of the plus sides of having a mobile dog grooming business is that it allows her to bring her business to people’s houses rather than them having to bring their pets over. That can make it calm and relaxing for dogs that may not relish getting a haircut.
“Being mobile, the dogs know that they’re home,” LaSoya said. “They’re much more relaxed. It’s much easier for both the parents and the dogs, especially if the dog is older or bigger or the owner is old and can’t get around much. It just makes it that more convenient for them.”
With the mobile business, she brings her van to the client’s houses, bring the dog and wash them and dry them and do the grooming straight through before bringing them right back.
“With mobile, it’s completely straight through,” LaSoya said. “Normally, for a small breed dog, it can take anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half. A lot of people are really surprised by that because they leave their dogs at the salon for four hours or even longer at times and no one likes that.”
LaSoya sticks to grooming just dogs, adding that cats are a little more challenging and require another level of expertise.
“I tried to see if I wanted to do cats, but it was just hard because their skins are more delicate and they’re a little bit more dangerous,” LaSoya said while laughing. “With cats and other animals, there are different techniques to use, different blades. It’s just a whole other skill. With cats, there’s other training for that.”
Being a dog person, LaSoya has always been around dogs while growing up.
“When growing up, my grandparents had a poodle,” LaSoya said. “I’ve always been around animals. I had my first dog when I was 10. After that, I didn’t have a pet for too long, but once I moved out and got my own place, I’ve had a bunch and now I have a total of four.”
She currently has four dogs including a Yorkshire terrier named Lilly who’s between 5 and 8 years old.
In addition to her lab mix and a heeler mix, her 6-year-old mastiff named Bruce is featured on the Woofers logo on her van.
Among her favorite things about running her dog grooming business is getting to spend time with her four-legged friends.
“It’s really peaceful,” LaSoya said. “I get to know their quirkiness. I guess my favorite part is taking a dog that a lot of people couldn’t handle and finding what they didn’t like about grooming and getting them to know that it’s OK. I’ve had a lot of dogs that would scream or try to bite. They would fuss around, but I take as much time to let them know that it’s going to be OK. I’ve been around a lot of dogs.”
But there are plenty of challenges that come with it as well including her shoulders getting worn out.
“The longer that I’ve been doing it, the more it’s become a body issue like with my shoulders,” LaSoya said. “That’s probably the main thing. Other challenges are when I lose dogs; like if they pass away, it’s hard because I build relationships and it can be hard to go our separate ways.”
When managing her busy schedule, she has to take into consideration about how long it’ll take to groom each dog, as well as the time it takes to travel from one client’s house to another each day.
“I can usually groom between five to six dogs max,” LaSoya said. “That’s about five or six hours and there’s another hour or two hours of drive time.”
Because of that and also because of the rising cost of gas, she’s only able to operate her business in Odessa.
“I had to start staying here in Odessa instead of going out to Midland,” LaSoya said. “I have a lot of people that have contacted me from Midland, but I can’t do it anymore.”
At the start of her business, she was operating out of a homemade trailer that her father made.
Since January, she has been operating out of her new van.
“This van, I had them put an inverter in so I can turn on a generator or the inverter which is a lot of batteries,” LaSoya said. “Also, with this generator, you have the exhaust going out versus my trailer (where) I had to open the back so all the fumes could go out. It just makes everything so much easier and getting around.”
Her van includes all the accessories needed for her job.
“It’s a neat van,” LaSoya said. “They had it designed to where I have two grooming tables. There are two blow dryers. I have a vacuum cleaner and a trash bin. My tub can fit quite large dogs. I have fresh water.”
Shortly after starting the business, COVID became widespread, forcing her to take a few weeks off.
However, it didn’t sideline her business for long.
“Like everyone else, I took two weeks off, but I had payments to make so I went back to work and people want their dogs groomed,” LaSoya said.
While she had a slow start in 2019, LaSoya says the business soon took off and has been going strong since.
“Once I hit December, all the salons were pretty busy and other people started reaching out to different places to get their dogs in and after that, it caught on fire,” LaSoya said.
To book an appointment with LaSoya, call 432-599-2177 or go to her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/woofersmobiledoggrooming/.