As a freelance art instructor, Rachel Bowers quickly learned that, while getting gigs is easy, “Getting paid borders on the impossible.” In order to pay her rent, she started walking dogs. When she asked her mother, a retired entrepreneur and MBA, if she would do the bookkeeping, her mother offered her a deal: “I’ll do your office work if you’ll let me do your marketing.” Bowers agreed, and Brooklyn Bark was born.
Eight years later, the company offers a range of unique services. Their pet-sitters are trained in pet CPR and first aid. They also administer medications (including injections), clean litter boxes, brush furry pets, and give email updates after each visit. Brooklyn Bark has even joined forces with another company, AmbuVet, to offer pet CPR classes. Bower, who is one of the instructors, is licensed in Wildlife Rehabilitation in New York State. They are now working with New York’s fire department on a project to ensure that there is a set of oxygen masks specially designed for pets at every fire and accident in New York City.
Brooklyn Bark has established numerous strategic partnerships – with Ambuvet, the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC Animals, and FIDO in Prospect Park to name a few – to create unique events and trainings. They’ve expanded from a two-woman operation to a 40-person team serving 11 Brooklyn neighborhoods.
They were written up for New York Magazine’s “Best of New York” issue and received a Platinum Paw award from Pet Sitters International. They’ve also received local news coverage for their pet CPR classes.
Bowers approached SCORE in 2014, seeking help in applying for a small business loan. She has now worked with SCORE mentor George Joiner, and others, on myriad challenges. Her SCORE team helped her with budgeting, restructuring to accommodate growth, and other issues such as employee behavior, staffing, and pricing.
She advises others thinking of starting a small business: “Be ready for long, hard hours, challenges from every direction and immense satisfaction.”