Michele Sisk, owner of Tiki Tails Dog Salon in Auburn, got involved with Main Street Alliance this spring, when she shared her health care story with her member of congress in a meeting with small business owners. After years spent working in corporate America, Michele wanted to make a more direct impact on the lives of her employees and community, and opened her small business. It’s clear seeing all the wet noses and wagging tails of her happy customers, that her work makes a difference in her local community. We talked to Michelle about Tiki Tails, and what it’s like to run a small business.
Business: Tiki Tails Dog Salon, located in Auburn, WA
How long have you been open? 10 years
Tell me what your business does: “We offer high quality dog and cat grooming, and do-it-yourself dog washing stations. We provide all the stuff you need [to wash your dog], and you get to leave the mess! It’s excellent for big dogs because it’s hard to give them a quality bath at home. We also have a retail section.”
How did your business get started? “I was working 15 years in a large corporation, working up the ladder. When I reached a certain point though, it just felt like they were taking advantage of the workforce, and I didn’t want to be a part of that, and put other people through that. I just wanted to play with dogs! [Laughs].”
What is the best part of running your business? “Definitely because my previous career was in a huge corporation, problem solving was always hard. You don’t have the same independence to make decisions. Now it’s much quicker and easier. It’s very fulfilling to see a problem and be able to fix it! Whenever you can do that, it’s very rewarding.”
How is your business different from the competition? “We’re grooming and self-wash and retail--most are just one or the other. Also, the shop is very open, so you can see what we’re doing as we groom. I used to joke that we were the “Shakey’s” of dog washing, because you can watch as it happens. Only people from Washington will get that, [laughs].”
What’s the hardest part of owning your own business? “Everything falls on you, every aspect. No one can be fantastic at all part of business, so your weaknesses can end up being the business’ weakness. The upside is that the accomplishments are your own; the downside is the failures are your own too!”
What values drive you and your business? “We seek to surround ourselves with employees and customers who value kindness--who always come from a place of kindness. And ‘I don’t do business that doesn’t make me smile.’ That’s a Grateful Dead quote; I can’t take credit for that, [laughs]!”
What do you want people to know about your business? [Michele asks her husband and co-owner of Tiki Tails, Mike, to chime in]
Mike: “We’re a local, family-owned business. And we’ve won best groomer in Auburn the past nine years--we’re waiting to hear about 10 in a couple of weeks!”
Michele: “And we are crazy about dogs!”
Want to visit Tiki Tails Dog Salon, and support a small business with good values? Find them at www.tikitailsdogsalon.com, or call 253-288-1199.