Tara Pellegrino

Director of Dream Fulfillment

The Professional Side of Me: 

  • I believe that Groomers do not have to be broke, live paycheck to paycheck and struggle. 

  • I believe in supply and demand – there are far more dogs and cats to be groomed than Groomers in the market – therefore, we should be charging much more for our services. 

  • I believe your business is your retirement and should be treated as such. 

  • I believe that grooming is an art that takes time to grow and develop and so does learning the art of running a business. 

  • I believe in helping our industry become more professional so we can earn more respect and higher salaries. 

  • I believe in you. 

The Personal Side of Me: 

I have been in this industry since 2001.  Before that, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do.  I graduated college as a duel major of Marketing and International Studies which led me down the corporate path of sales and management.  Then 9/11 happened.   

I grew up in New York, worked in the city, had friends and family in the towers, at the Pentagon and on the first plane.  While I was watching the terror that unfolded in the following weeks, I kept questioning my own personal happiness in my career.  I could have been in the towers that day.  I could have been trapped in a subway.  I could have…, I could have…..   

That is when my life changed from a corporate clog in the machine to a thriving small business owner.   

Well, it wasn’t that simple and it certainly didn’t happen very fast.  It started with me calling my very best client and telling him that I would be giving my notice at my company in the next few hours.  I wanted him to know that I appreciated all the opportunities he gave me.  I knew that as soon as I gave my notice, my boss would escort me from the building and I would not have the chance to tell him, 'thanks'

That is when he asked me what I would be doing.  I did not know.  It’s funny because as a Corporate Recruiter, I warned countless people not to quit their job without having another one lined up.  It is frowned upon by any hiring manager.  Professional Suicide.  And here I was doing it. 

Then he asked me, “Well, what do you like?” 

“I like dogs,” was my response. 

The following sentence changed the course of my life and when he said it – I just KNEW it was right.  Daylon said, 

“My wife is a master dog groomer and is looking to take on an apprentice.” 

One week later, I bought a grooming table, scrubs, clippers and scissors and followed my heart.  I worked without pay for one year learning all I could about grooming.  To supplement my lack of income, I became a Nanny and a Waitress as well.  I worked and studied around the clock to learn all I needed to know about the breeds and haircuts.  I volunteered with Dog Show people on Sundays to get better at my trade.  I knew that I wanted to own a business some day and I wanted to be the best. 

The next three years, I worked as a Groomer in a prestigious veterinarian to further my learning and understanding of canine anatomy, sickness, disease and health.  I wanted to be prepared for all the questions that a client may ask in relation to their pets well-being.  I worked closely with the vets and techs and asked a lot of questions. 

By the end of 2005, I was ready and I opened my business, Million Dollar Dog, Inc.  I also gave birth to my daughter Mia Rose that same year.  I had a home-based business that, in my opinion kicked ass!  It was 600 square feet, in my basement with a separate entrance from the home.  In four years, I outgrew the space, had 4 employees and a large clientele.  My family also grew when my son, Mason was born in 2008. 

I moved to a commercial location in 2010 and have been there ever since.  At my largest, I had a staff of 13 employees but soon realized that growth in revenues does not necessarily mean growth in profits.  I have since cut back to a much smaller team of the very best employees and have seen amazing growth in my company.     

In 2012, I had the opportunity to open a second business as the Southeast Distributor for Envirogroom Professional Pet Products.  It was one of those moments that, as an entrepreneur – it just felt right.  I figured it was worth the risk.  If the company didn't work out, I would still have the shampoo to use in my salon!   

Over the next few years, traveling to pet businesses in the southeast, the idea for GBU began to form.  I used my driving time to catch up on audio business books and started to discuss business strategies with my shampoo clients.  A pattern began to form – many of the Groomers I met worked insanely hard but barely had enough money to pay their bills, let alone retire!  This just doesn't sit well with me and I felt the need to do something about it. 

I scoured the web to see what resources were out there for Groomers.  There are plenty of grooming schools that teach HOW to groom but there really are not many places to learn about RUNNING a grooming business.  The things I found were all over the place, outdated, time consuming and confusing to sort through.  I figured if there could be one place where all the business knowledge is at your fingertips – wouldn’t that help elevate our industry?  

The Next Phase  

And that is where we are today!  I brought together such an amazing team of people that are just as passionate as I am in creating an online tool for you.   

Bob – My hubby is the guy behind the scenes.  He has been running my two blogs: www.amillioncaninekisses.com for my spa, Million Dollar Dog and www.naturalpetdistributionblog.com for eMDD Distribution – my shampoo company.  Not only is Bob the 'computer guy' but he has been with me through the good and bad parts of running my salon.  His analytical mind, management experience and thoughtfulness of others helps slow me down to make sound decisions that has helped grow my businesses.  He couldn't hold a pair of scissors, but he could honestly run a grooming business better than most, based on 16+ years of supporting Million Dollar Dog.       

Dan – Long-time friend and business partner in eMDD Distribution, Dan has been a resource to his shampoo clients in the Carolina's.  Dan is one of those super smart guys that has a logical way of tackling any problem or situation.  Working with Groomers, he also sees the struggles we face daily and gets it.  There is so much he brings to the table for educating Groomers such as sales training, retail, management, customer service, employee relations and just plain old common sense.  He also has a wicked funny sense of humor! 

Brittany – Brittany is the sole reason why I can work on other business ventures.  She is my Grooming Director at Million Dollar Dog and is the person that holds it all together while I travel with eMDD.  Brittany's understanding of the operational side of running a business is so impressive.  Having the chance to manage two salons in her career has given her a unique perspective on what works and what doesn't.  Her professional drive is hard to keep up with!  She is always working on how to do things better and she will never quit in making the grooming industry better. 

This site is put together by years of experience in our industry, what we have learned from other industries that we have worked in, business coaches, mentors and lots and lots of books!  But most important, much has been compiled from things that your peers have noticed, struggled with and succeeded in.   

It has been my honor working with and learning from so many talented Groomers that have purchased their shampoo from me and shared their stories in the hope that it can help others in our field.  Meeting these other business owners and learning that we all have the same goals - to have successful businesses, make more money, provide the best for our clients and be able to retire someday with style – it is with my deepest gratitude to them that I have put together this online school to help us all accomplish our goals. 


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