A dogged determination to follow your dream can come with lots of licks and wags. Ask Geetika Nigam, a jewellery designer-turned-MNC operations head-turned dog groomer.
Nigam spent much of the last decade juggling careers. When she turned 28, panic set in. "I worked on US-timings in a Gurgaon MNC. I didn’t get to see the sun for days, and realised I had to start something I really wanted to do before hitting 30,” she says. And what she really wanted was to be a vet. "I had studied commerce in school, so decided to repeat my Class XII with sciences. But no school wanted to take me," she says.
So Nigam, who used to bring home "chickens, piglets and pups" as a child, did the next best thing: started Paw Prints, a professional residence-based dog-grooming service, spurred by her experience of growing up grooming five dogs at home.
With an initial investment of Rs 3 lakh on pet clippers, shampoos, ear cleaners, lotions and shears that her cousins sent from abroad, Nigam found her first client in June 2006: her mother, who had six dogs. “At first, it was hard to educate people on the concept of pet grooming, as they thought bathing your pet was enough.”
But with each wagging dog she groomed, word spread of her services. Nigam now employs three people to help her groom nearly 70 pooches a week — primarily in Delhi’s embassy area. She broke even ten months ago, with her client list growing ten-fold in a year. She recently invested a lakh on a dog dating website.
“It’s so much more fun working with dogs than with human beings. I get paid for work I would love to do for free,” she says. But there is a downside to working with dogs. “It’s hard to date a guy who is scared of dogs,” says the lady who stays home alone with her four dogs.