SYKESVILLE — The Sykesville Pet Salon is a family affair for the Kister family as they all teamed up to help groomer Ashley Kister get her own business started and running after graduating grooming school.
With the help of her parents, two sisters and some extended family, they all celebrated the grand opening of Ashley Kister’s business, the Sykesville Pet Salon last weekend.
Kister attended the DuBois Area High School, and during her junior year she job-shadowed her cousin, who owns Shaggy to Chic in DuBois. Once she graduated high school last spring, she made the decision to go to grooming school as well.
“Just like two years ago I thought of it,” Kister said. “It wasn’t a school job shadow, I just went and did it.”
She attended Just Four Paws Academy in Erie, which offers two programs, a 300-hour course and a 600-hour course. Kister completed the 600 course, which took four months, and certified her in both dogs and cats.
“That’s part of the 600-hour program, they would teach me how to do cats too,” Kister said. “When I was at school I actually learned to groom a cat without even having a leash on it or anything. It just sat there, and you just have to have the reflexes.”
Her parents got the location for her pet salon in July, and the whole family has put in weeks of work to get the shop ready to open in December.
“Since July, we’ve all spent weeks down here trying to fix it up and everything to get it ready for this,” said Rachel Kister, Ashley’s younger sister.
The shop used to be a dentist office, and her dad converted a dentist chair into a grooming table for her. The table uses the hydraulic from the chair to raise and lower while Ashley is grooming the animals.
He said the table works well and can handle any weight dog. He has a background in construction which helped the family to get the shop ready to open. Kister’s uncle also welded a piece onto the back of the table so she can hook the dogs to a small leash so they don’t fall.
There is also a small step stool to help elderly or smaller dogs get up onto the table easier.
Instead of cages, the shop has small holding rooms connected to the grooming room for the dogs to stay in. There are screens down lower for smaller dogs to be able to see out, and a small hole for the air dryer to be put in to blow air through if the dogs aren’t completely dry.
Katelyn Kister, Ashley’s older sister, helped with the business end of the things through the Clarion University Small Business Development Center.
“Katelyn actually graduated from Clarion a year ago in December, so she kind of took care of that part of it for us,” said Michele Kister, Ashley’s mother. “It’s really helped a lot because we didn’t know what we were getting into. All we knew was we needed a building, we bought the building and then were like ‘now what?’ so she kind of spearheaded that end of it for us.”
Rachel, the youngest of the three, is finishing high school and comes to help around the shop on work release.
The Kisters are still working on the details of the daycare offered at the shop. They have some rooms for daycare and are planning to add on to make an area the dogs can be let outside in to play.
The front room of the business is also decorated with paintings of dogs and cats on the walls that Ashley Kister painted herself. Her family described her as artistic and creative.