A month ago, Stephanie Grabill traded the more temperate weather of Maryland for the heat of a Mid-Missouri summer when she moved her home and business to Jefferson City.
Grabill owns and operates Steph's Pooch Parlor on Wheels, a mobile dog grooming business. She first started grooming dogs around five years ago in Maryland, when she asked her dog groomer for tips on how to groom her two standard poodles in between appointments.
The groomer offered her a job in exchange for training, so Grabill started an apprenticeship. Three years later, a friend asked if she would want to take her work mobile.
"I thought 'Oh my God, that sounds like a perfect idea,' so I went with her for a month, and I thought, 'Wow, this is amazing. I think this is really for me,'" Grabill said.
After that month, the friend was selling her business and Grabill decided to take the opportunity to buy her own mobile dog grooming business.
Steph's Pooch Parlor on Wheels was born.
That was in Maryland, around two years ago. A month ago, Grabill moved to Jefferson City to be closer to her daughter who goes to school in Kansas City, and her partner's family who live in the area.
Grabill said one of the reasons she likes having a mobile grooming service over a traditional location is it takes less time than a normal groomer, because she does the whole process right there at the customer's home. Another reason is the accessibility. She said she liked being able to help people who can't get around easily, like the elderly.
"It's cool that I can do that — that I could bring that service to people that struggle getting around and make it a little easier for them," she said, then paused and smiled. "And I get to play with their doggies."
Grabill herself has two chocolate brown standard poodles — one-year-old siblings Jewel and Jade, who she calls her children.
A love of dogs is important for this job. At one point in Maryland, she said, she was grooming up to 15 dogs a day, five or six days a week. At around an hour an appointment, this meant sometimes she was working long days. But she didn't mind.
"I could do 14 dogs a day," Grabill said. "It doesn't bother me. This is truly the coolest job I have ever had."
Grabill said there isn't a thing she doesn't like about her job, but her favorite parts are interacting with the customers and the dogs.
"I love making personal relationships with everyone, and it often leads to life-long relationships and friendships — not just loving their dogs," Grabill said.
Steph's Pooch Parlor offers baths, trimming and full haircuts, as well as dematting and deshedding services. Length of time for the appointment and price change depending on the size of the dog. Baths range from $60-$90, while haircuts, which include a bath, range from $75-$95.
Grabill has no size limit; she groomed her first husky last week, which took an hour and a half. Now, she has several more huskies next week.
The grooming truck includes an adjustable table and a bathing area. Dogs are leashed to both stations to prevent them from running away. Grabill said some dogs are more wild than others, and used her own dogs as an example while she was giving Jewel a bath.
"He's wild," she said, pointing at Jade, down on the floor. "(Jewel) is calm, but he's crazy. He's licking you from head to toe, he's shaking, he's jumping. It doesn't bother me one bit."
Grabill's business is slowly growing in Jefferson City. On Monday, she had nine appointments scheduled for the week.
"People I've talked to have said Jefferson City has needed something like this for a long time, so they're so excited we're here," Grabill said.
Steph's Pooch Parlor On Wheels can be reached at 573-326-0142 by call or text to make appointments.
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