Julie Vandak, 29
Co-Owner Groom Spot
When dogs saunter into Julie Vandak’s pet-grooming salon, they are greeted by soft lighting, the scent of lavender, and a warm welcome from Vandak and her husband, Larry. It’s all part of having a relaxing environment, so the dog-grooming experience is pleasurable for her canine clients.
After previously working as a bather and groomer at another pet-grooming salon, Vandak was encouraged by many of her clients to open her own business. That happened in 2013, when Groom Spot was launched just steps away from the Crestwood Metro-North station. But it didn’t happen overnight. Having studied finance at Manhattan College, Vandak wanted to be sure that Groom Spot would be financially viable. She researched the market and finally settled on a location in Tuckahoe.
Initially, as a female Millennial, she got what she calls the “run-around” from the town board. Undeterred, Vandak convinced the board that her salon would be a community asset. Previous clients signed a petition, and some advocated her cause at town board meetings.
Fast-forward five years, and the business is thriving. “All of our clients know us, and we personally get to know the dogs and their owners,” she says. “For an active customer, for example, I’ll recommend a shorter haircut for the dog, which is easier to maintain for running.” For clients who prefer to walk on the wild side, Groom Spot even offers puppy Mohawks or pet-safe hair color.