Young Midlothian lady’s business has gone to the dogs
“I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me, they are the role model for being alive.” – Gilda Radner (comedian from “Saturday Night Live”)
Says local 19 year-old Midlothian native Gracie Cleveland, “My family has always had dogs. I’ve always loved them, and other animals. My family and I happened upon a pet store when I was about 10 years old. At that moment on, I loved to visit any store that would allow me to love on and play with their fur baby friends.”
Gracie relays, “My first pride and joy (dog) is named London. I got her my senior year while I was a student at Heritage High School, when she was 6 weeks old. She is now two and a half. London is supposedly an Aussie Doodle but actually looks and acts like a Golden Retriever." Since then, Gracie says she has added her Yorkie, named Gizmo or “Giz”, who is almost 2 years old, and a Lab Retriever, Dozer, who is 6 months old and weighs 80 pounds.
Gracie rescued Dozer, along with his mother and 10 other siblings when they were only five days old. "I fostered them and then found them amazing, loving homes. I was fortunate to get to keep Dozer for myself," she said.
Gracie has her sights set on establishing herself in the business community in her hometown of Midlothian. Her “doggy” dreams are starting to become a reality.
Step 1: Walking and sitting doggy clients
Gracie says she began pet sitting about a year and a half ago to make money while attending college. "I loved the connection I had with all the fur babies and their families. Between that and the way I love spoiling ‘my’ dogs to all types of treats and celebrating them on their birthdays and holidays, I thought it would be great if I could open a doggy boutique for humans that love to spoil ‘their’ fur babies as much as I do," she added.
Gracies dream is to expand into a doggy hotel/resort someday. However, for the time being, she says she still has her dog sitting business and also makes porch signs as a "side gig" to help her earn extra money while still living at home with parents Bobby and Jennifer Cleveland.
Step 2: Opened online doggy business
While this 2019 Midlothian Heritage High School graduate is still attending Texas A&M-Commerce online, Gracie has already set more of her business plans in motion. She launched her new “Doodles Doggie Couture & Cafe” this past month.
Less than a month later, she says, “I have 43 customers that have purchased from my online boutique since starting my website in mid-February ... Many of those are already repeat customers. It’s not a huge number of customers right now, but everyone has to start somewhere." Gracie is very grateful for the support she's received so far, with hopes and prayer that her clientele will continue to grow.
Currently, Gracie's online dog boutique has some dog clothing, human t-shirts and
caps (for the dog lovers), collars, leashes, toys, dental goods, grooming items, and all kinds of treats. "I am constantly adding more goodies and taking special requests and suggestions from my friends and customers, to enlarge the inventory in my online store in the future,” she added.
Step 3: New opportunities abounding
Gracie's business is growing through her efforts on social media and by also becoming a visible community vendor at several upcoming events. She is excited at the opportunity to show her wares at the Ellis County Stock Show & Rodeo, The Wine & Arts Festival of Midlothian, as well as other activities planned in the months ahead.
“I have put my heart, soul, passion, and savings into this dream of mine”, says Gracie. “I know that I am only 19 years old, but I believe that I can do anything that I desire to do. I won’t know if I don’t try. I am a hard worker that is determined to become a young, successful businesswoman. I ask that everyone check out my website and visit my booths at upcoming events. Please shop small, and support local businesses.”
Step 4: Taking the next steps and expanding the businesses
Gracie is transitioning from a college student, as she completes her Bachelor of
Science degree in marketing in her final two semesters of online classes, to being a young entrepreneur leading her own company. She says, “I am hoping my dog-related businesses grow into something long term and become something even bigger than I’ve ever imagined."
"My fondest futuristic dream is to turn my online boutique and cafe into an actual store front in Midlothian that will also include a resort-style hotel for boarding pets," she added. "I want to work with families that love their fur babies just as much as I do.”
For more information, contact Gracie online at: www.doodlesdogcouture.com or on Facebook at: Doodles Dog Couture & Cafe.