A love of animals and the need to find a career that would give her more flexibility led 37-year-old Annika Hayden to set up her own business.
Annika, based in Walkerburn, made the decision to launch Head2Tailz Mobile Dog Grooming.
With a degree in animal science as well as the first year of veterinary nursing under her belt, she went on to gain City & Guild qualifications before going to the Selkirk-based Business Gateway Scottish Borders for advice.
She secured a £1,300 grant from Scottish Borders Council’s Business Fund which went towards the cost of kitting out her mobile unit.
The new business, which provides health checks, clipping, and styling, launched at the end of March and has already secured clients throughout the Borders.
“I love working with animals so initially I went to study veterinary nursing but to get into your second year you had to be employed by an approved veterinary centre and, because of the job market, that was very hard to do,” said Annika.
“I went on to study animal science, but was again disappointed when I graduated because it was so tricky to find work in the sector I’d chosen.
“I took a receptionist post but last year that job was reduced to part-time, when it dawned on me it would be sensible and rewarding to set up my own business.
“I turned to Business Gateway as I had heard they were very good at supporting you through the start up process. I had no idea about bookkeeping, etc. so attended all their free start-up workshops which were very useful.
“These allowed me to meet people whose businesses were at different stages of development and their insight and support made me feel more confident. The Business Fund was a real boost.”
Annika has found word of mouth and social media great tools to attract new customers.
“New clients have been coming mainly through my Facebook page because of the positive reviews I’ve had,” said Annika. “I’ve found my background in veterinary nursing has given me a greater understanding of animals, and how their body works.
“Being able to read their body language helps not only put the dog at ease but also the owner.”