Wednesday, 17 August 2022

Brazilian takes the lead as new owner of dog boutique

Brazilian takes the lead as new owner of dog boutique

A DOG grooming parlour in Henley has changed hands.

Aspen Weatherburn has sold Naughty Mutt Nice to Karole Robertson, who has run her own grooming business for six years.

The shop in Reading Road is currently closed for refurbishment but will re-open on February 20 with a new wet room and bath, flooring, tables and reception area.

Mrs Robertson will keep the name and will offer advanced grooming techniques, holistic spa treatment and ultrasonic teeth cleaning packages. 

Ms Weatherburn, 39, of Albert Road, Henley, will continue to be involved part-time until the end of next month to ensure a smooth transition.

She plans to take some time off to spend more time with her five-year-old daughter and help her partner, Alistair Cooper, launch his wine consultancy business in Henley.

Mrs Robertson, 36, lives in London Road, Ruscombe, with her husband Struan, who works in digital marketing, son, Milo, three, and their 10-year-old West Highland terrier, Brian.

She launched Paws 4 Applause in June 2011, which she ran from a workshop in her garden.

She has built up a database of about 200 customers and felt she needed more space to be able to grow the business.

Mrs Robertson said: “The limited space and workshop setting was no longer cutting it. For the past eight months I’ve been searching for the ideal location and am happy to tell everyone that I’ve finally found it. A lot of my customers are excited.

“I am going to be dedicated to this 100 per cent and you’ll find me in the shop every day. I’ll be grooming, managing the bookings and choosing exciting new services and products for pets.”

Originally from Brazil, Mrs Robertson moved to London in 2003 to help improve her English.

She worked in hospitality and hotels but because animals are her passion, she began training at grooming salons in West London.

Now she is a member of the Pet Industry Federation, the regulatory body, and the British Dog Groomers’ Association.

Mrs Robertson said: “I have a passion for dogs and pets and have had dogs and cats since I was a child.”

After meeting her husband at a rock concert, she decided to move out of London to start a family. She was prompted to launch a grooming business after struggling to find anywhere to cut Brian’s hair.

Mrs Robertson said: “The business has grown really well and is very healthy. I have very loyal customers who keep coming back for the treatments that I offer.

“Now I am prepared to take on a shop. I thought it would be nice to have a bigger space and be able to sell some pet accessories as well.

“The name Naughty Mutt Nice is very well established so I’m going to work with it.

“I just want to carry on the good work of Aspen, offering something a bit different but with the same values. I am looking forward to meeting all of the Henley dogs — but also cats as well. As a family, we really like the town. We come over for the weekend as we like the restaurants and the shops. It is a very lovely, charming little town.

“We have come every year for the regatta since 2011 as my husband used to row and we love watching the boats.”

Ms Weatherburn launched the business in 2009 after working as a journalist in London.

She quickly built up a good reputation for her groomers’ work and launched the Henley’s Top Dog competition with the Henley Standard, which is now in its eighth year.

She said: “I never thought it would be as successful as it has been as I was a magazine journalist with a love of dogs moving back to my home town.

“But it did capture the imagination of the Henley public. The support of those people, those dog owners, is the reason why I am still here today.”

Ms Weatherburn said she had been thinking about selling the business for some time but was anxious that it went to someone suitable.

She said: “I had quite a few people who were interested but Karole was the only person who I thought was perfect to take Naughty Mutt Nice forward — and she is a great groomer.”    

Ms Weatherburn said she would miss her customers’ pets. “There are dogs I have washed who came to me as puppies and are now coming up to eight years old,” she said.

“I have had to say goodbye to a lot of dogs and I’m really going to miss them.”

Now she is looking forward to trying her hand as a small business consultant using her skills as both a journalist and entrepreneur.

Ms Weatherburn said: “I get really excited about starting new stuff, creating the brand and marketing it.

“I am going to take a couple of months off to spend time with my daughter and then I am going to be helping my partner with his wine consultancy with marketing and PR.”

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