Nothing ruff about new grooming business

Longtime dog groomer opens home studio


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This article was published 16/11/2022 (198 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

One lifelong Westwood animal lover has broken from the pack and started her own at-home dog grooming studio.

Sydney McPhail, a 29-year-old mother of two, launched her at-home studio, Syd’s Suds, in June and has since grown her client base by nearly 100 hounds.

McPhail worked as a dog groomer at a pet store chain for seven years until she decided it was time for a change.

Photo by Katlyn Streilein

Westwood resident Sydney McPhail, 29, launched her at-home studio, Syd’s Suds, in June.

“It just wasn’t for me anymore,” McPhail said, as she trimmed Lui, a six-month-old Maltese poodle, during a recent interview at her new studio. “I wanted to go off on my own — I was ready for that.”

When longtime clients were notified that McPhail was moving on, many continued to seek out her services. McPhail’s client list is nearly maxed out.

“It’s really taken off and been awesome,” she said.

Though the freedom of owning her own business has been palpable, McPhail admits it hasn’t been without its own challenges.

“It’s not always easy doing all of the jobs yourself,” she said. “It’s been a whole learning curve.”

McPhail’s foray into canine care didn’t involve clips and snips. The original dream was to become a veterinarian. She took a veterinarian assistant class and was hired at a local clinic. Though the job brought her closer to animals, it turned out to be too emotionally taxing.

“Really, you’re not seeing pets besides their puppy visits unless they’re sick or something is wrong,” McPhail said.

Helping animals was still McPhail’s passion. The job search grew warmer when she was hired as a dog trainer — a career she enjoyed, but found it focused heavily on the owners rather than the animals themselves. From there, she switched to grooming, which was a red-hot match.

“With grooming, I got to work one-on-one with the pets. Trying to get them to do what you want involves a lot of behaviour stuff, too … I didn’t think I really cared about making them look cute, but it’s really satisfying,” McPhail said.

Photo by Katlyn Streilein

McPhail takes a moment to feed Lui a treat. The young Maltese poodle is one of several dogs McPhail groomed at her home studio on Nov. 8.

It brings McPhail joy to make animals comfortable through de-matting and nail trims. (Giving her clients’ dogs short rounded nails is her favourite task.)

Time spent working in a veterinarian’s office taught McPhail to keep an eye on more than esthetics. McPhail once found an abnormality on a dog during its appointment and tipped off the owner. It turned out to be a potentially life-threatening health issue that benefitted from early detection.

“I love what I do … Not everyone can say that,” she said.

To launch her private grooming business, McPhail transformed her backyard workshop — a metal storage container, though not immediately identifiable as such because of the renovations — into a salon for canines.

The pups receive a wash and blow-dry in McPhail’s basement before being whisked into the studio for finishing touches. Although McPhail is uncertain how long her family will call this address home, she is looking forward to many years in the trade.

Those interested in booking with McPhail can reach out through Facebook or via her Instagram account, @winnipegdoggroomer

Katlyn Streilein

Katlyn Streilein
Community Journalist

Katlyn Streilein was a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review.

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