2014 marked the 20th anniversary of the Business Development Department of Momentum. To celebrate, we collected 20 stories about past participants who have thriving businesses. Written by Marnie Schaetti of RaiDo Dynamics, these stories reflect the diversity, innovation and hard work of the inspiring participants who come through our doors every year to take one of our many programs.
This is one of those stories.
Entrepreneur Name: Debbie Zelez
Programs: Self Employment Program, Micro Business Loans
Program Years: 2008, 2009
Business Description: A multi-service pet care facility specializing in stress reduction, disease control and superior client service.
If you were to ask Debbie Zelez what was new in her life, she wouldn’t know where to start.
Five years ago, she was unemployed. For health reasons, she was unable to go back to teaching high school science, and her recent contract position at the Humane Society had expired. It had, however, given her a passion for working with pets. Her challenge was figuring out how to make money doing what she loved.
While looking for work, Debbie learned about Momentum. The Self Employment Program helped her realize that achieving her full vision of a pet resort couldn’t happen overnight. She decided grooming pets in her basement was a more realistic place to start and she launched
A year later she opened a second location. A year after that, she found an 11-acre property perfect for a pet resort. It was an enormous investment and a huge risk but it meant that, after just three years in business, her dream was within reach. She sold everything she owned including her house, borrowed a tiny bit of money and, on the day she took possession a
month later, was already grooming and boarding dogs.
High Tails Pet Resort now employees 22 people and three contractors. It can board up to 200 animals at a time, and also offers grooming, training and doggie day care. Meanwhile, Debbie is in the process of starting two new businesses, continues to be the emergency drop-off for dogs needing shelter in her municipality, supports several carefully selected charities, and is about to begin a sharpening division for the blades and shears groomers use. Coming full circle, she now serves as a mentor to other new business owners at Momentum.
What’s new? Debbie is living her dream, doing what she loves and, every now and then, having the chance to sit down to eat.
Learn more about Momentum’s Business Development programs.