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Hidden Gems: Meet LaTonya Smith of LC’S Mobile Pet Spa & LC’S Detroit

Today we’d like to introduce you to LaTonya Smith.  

Hi LaTonya, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers?
I am a Detroit native and Eastern Michigan Graduate. I have always been told when I was younger that I was drawn to animals, some examples would be that I would bring home strays, and feed stray animals. I even remember my neighbor had a huge dog that no one liked or was scared of, and he wasn’t the nicest, but he loved me, so I would have play dates with the dog. My mom was mortified because she thought the dog would eat me. But that is where my love began, I really understood that animals have unconditional love and are pure-hearted. I then started volunteering my time after school working with animals when I was around 15 years old, which evolved into a love and passion for animals. I worked in veterinarian clinics, doggy daycares, and kennel attendants and volunteered at animal shelters and animal rescues. I have worked at plenty of cooperate American jobs and just was never completely happy. I then found joy in grooming animals, I’ve worked at various pet salons and mobile grooming salons, and me having all of this experience made me want to start my own thing and I did just that. That is how LC’S Mobile Pet Spa came about in 2012. My business niche is that I am mobile, but I do not have a van, I offer the in-home grooming experience for your pet. This all came about, because I would run into a lot of pet parents whose dogs did not like the van and would freak out or pet parents would ask me, could you just groom my pet in my house. Then it clicked, there is a need for this, and so I offer just that. It took off, people loved the idea. And here we are today, along with mobile, I now have a storefront which is LC’S Detroit in Capitol Park Detroit, located inside of City Bark. I have been on the local news, Channel 2,4, and 7 a few times to promote events that I have participated in and have partnered with the local Downtown Detroit dog parks. LC’S Mobile Pet Spa and LC’S Detroit isn’t just a grooming company, it’s a place “Where Pets are Treated as Family”. My Detroit location is so different than most typical grooming salons, my salon allows for pets to have a one on one experience with the groomer in the salon, which means the groomer grooms the pet from the beginning to end of the groom, which has worked out for the best for the pet and the owner. 

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
That is a loaded question, I would have to say that entrepreneurship isn’t smooth or easy, there are always obstacles and challenges that are faced offer, yet it can be rewarding and fulfilling but takes a lot of your time and requires sacrifice. The first few years were not smooth, and then it gradually started to smooth out some. I still feel like things are smooth, but I have learned to not freak out and try my best to adapt. The first wave of obstacles/challenges was finding the proper mobile equipment to take with me, establishing relationships with shampoo companies, and getting clients (marketing). I had to put myself out there, and do free events and appearances. The more I gave to the community, clients came, and was word of mouth as well that aided in the growth and evolvement of my businesses. I have experienced racial issues because I am African American and a woman, but I overcame that, and I believe it was because my work proved that I was more than qualified, and my race and gender doesn’t matter, my work is what is important and how I am with animals/pets and when people met and interacted with me those things didn’t matter anymore. 

The pandemic did affect me in many ways just like everyone else, but as a business, I took a hit and had to rethink the business structure and how to move forward and still do what I love doing. Here is a link to show my latest thing https://www.fox2detroit.com/video/916916 

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about LC’S Mobile Pet Spa & LC’S Detroit?
LC’S Mobile Pet Spa & LC’S Detroit is a full-service grooming salon that is dedicated to consistently providing high customer satisfaction by rendering excellent service, quality pet care, and a fun, clean, enjoyable spa atmosphere. I offer a unique approach to grooming, we have one on one type of grooming. Our salon experience allows the groomer and pet to create a healthy grooming relationship because I groom the pet from the start of the appointment to the end of the groom. This allows pets to be able to have that one-on-one attention and makes the grooming experience less stressful and less time for your pet to be at the salon. What am I most proud of brand-wise? I would have to say that my business is that I always make sure that I do what is best for the pet when it comes to grooming, I always educate and encourage clients on good grooming practices, and I have a lot of patience. 

What matters most to you?
What matters the most to me is the ability to foster relationships and affect lives. The gift of grooming has granted me the ability to do both. Grooming has allowed me the opportunity to become a part of each and everyone life that I come in contact with. Many of my current friendships were cultivated from that initial groom. With more than 20 years in the grooming industry my love of grooming started at a very young age. While growing up in the inner city being a pet lover was considered strange. However, my desire and love for pets guided me along this path. In essence, what makes me happy is the ability to make pets look and feel great and the ability to impact the lives of pets and pet parents alike. Now I get to do what I love, and never work a day in my life. 

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