While almost every small business you can think of has been suffering during the pandemic if it is even still in business, Rahanna Gray's unusual business, Stylish Pooch, is thriving beyond all of her expectations.
While almost every small business you can think of has been suffering during the pandemic if it is even still in business, Rahanna Gray's unusual business, Stylish Pooch, is thriving beyond all of her expectations. “Since the pandemic started,” said Gray, 28, of Germantown, “this business has skyrocketed. I can't take a day off. I've been working seven days a week, and we are booked up until the end of February!”
Gray, an imposing figure who is 6-foot-3 and played volleyball and did some modeling while at Saul Agricultural High School in Roxborough, has an unusual business model that obviously appeals to dog owners who are staying isolated as much as possible because of the pandemic. After high school, the local animal lover spent seven years as a dog groomer for the PetSmart chain of stores before going into business for herself in 2016.
“My dad suggested that I get my own vehicle and start a mobile dog grooming business,” said Gray, “so I got an RV (recreational vehicle) and began going to people's homes. After the pandemic started, business really took off because dog groomers in stores were shut down. A lot of people still don't want to go out. I have all the equipment I need in my vehicle, so I do all of the grooming right near the customer's house and deliver the dog right to the customer after about an hour or more.”
According to a customer named Loveleen P., “Rahanna worked miracles on my two Westies. I spent most of the year in the hospital and rehab, so my babies weren't being groomed as often as necessary. Matter of fact, they were matted, dirty and not smelling the best. When Rahanna finished with them, you would have thought they had been groomed for the Westminster Dog Show.”
Another customer, Jordan S., added, “Rahanna is especially passionate about dogs. She will love your dog more than you do ... She has an awesome mobile set-up that comes to you! She gives exceptional customer service.”
In 2016 Rahanna was going through lots of stress after her RV broke down and there was stressful conflict with her partner. So her mother contacted the Netflix TV show, “Queer Eye,” and nominated her to be a contestant. (“Queer Eye” is a television franchise based upon a team of gay professionals, the "Fab 5," who give lifestyle and fashion makeovers to guests.)
In that particular season, the show was filmed in Philadelphia, and all of the contestants were from the Greater Philadelphia area, including Rahanna, who quickly became a fan favorite. The show gave her company a major makeover, including a new mobile grooming vehicle, and they hosted a doggie fashion show to help promote her services.
At about that time a friend of Rahanna's asked her to color her dog pink, which she had never done before, so she did it. “She put pictures of it on Instagram,” said Gray, “and things went crazy. Now about 70 percent of my jobs include some coloring, either part of the body or the entire body.”
Gray specializes in brightly colored ponytails, ears and paws, plus mohawks for dogs — and, of course, impeccable trims. Rahanna insists that her hair dyes are non-toxic and vegan and that they wear off gradually, just as they do on people. The company won a Best of Philly award this year for “Best Mobile Dog Groomer.”
Of course, Gray, who is pregnant with a girl due in February, is sometimes asked, “Isn't it cruel to color the dog, who did not choose to go through this?” Her reply: “I love animals and would never do anything to harm them. The fact is that dogs love attention. When people see a dog that has been colored, they smile and pet the dog, and the dogs love all of that extra attention. I have a 10-year-old Maltese named Benny, and I have tried out different colors on him. (You might say he is a guinea pig dog), and he loves it!”
Rahanna and one employee run the mobile grooming business, which travels all over the Delaware Valley. Almost all of the dogs colored are small. Prices start at $85 for basic grooming, $45 more for partial color, $110 extra for full color and $75 for a full-body design (cheetah, zebra, etc.).
For more information: stylish-pooch.com or 267-582-6413. Len Lear can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org