Groomer Story
The Road To Mobile Grooming Success: Tracy Jervis' Story
by Jen Phillips April
Photos provided by Tracy Jervis
y phone is always ringing. My biggest problem right now is finding a place on my schedule to put the dogs,” says central-Virginia-based groomer Tracy Jervis.

After years spent as a homemaker and now in her 50s, the new groomer took a leap of faith in opening a mobile grooming business in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, but luckily it’s paid off financially and emotionally.

However, the seed to pursue dog grooming was planted decades before when Tracy bred Maltese. “I’d take them to PetSmart for grooming and would see 20 dogs coming in, plus 20 going out,” she shares. “I started doing the math, and I could see the potential of making a good income doing something I didn’t mind doing. I was thinking about being a cosmetologist, but thought dog grooming would be awesome, too.”

a photo collage of Tracy and her husband, her grooming van, and a freshly groomed dog
In between grooms, Tracy cared for the puppies’ coats at home with the help of her husband, Willie, who would hold them while she groomed. “At the end of the day, we absolutely adored our pups and felt proud of our work,” Tracy says. “We work great together. I’d ask him to help me start a grooming business, but he always said, ‘Where will you get the dogs from, Tracy?’”
Before her career in grooming, Tracy got experience dematting dogs, too. “Sometimes, our neighbor would bring their matted dog to me to groom,” she shares. “I recall thinking that I could save the coat before I even knew what dematting was. While grooming that dog, I was already feeling proud that my neighbor was going to be shocked to see how cute her fur-baby would look. In the back of my mind, I thought I’d really like being a dog groomer. It never dawned on me the money I’d make until later.”

As a dedicated domestic engineer, Tracy knew she wanted a career when her children grew older. To prepare, she attended cosmetology classes at the local community college. “I worked for a while at Wal-Mart cutting hair during my internship program,” she shares. “I felt nervous all the time, and it was hard to enjoy working in public and being responsible for how the person would look or react.”

Eventually, Tracy quit because she wasn’t comfortable. Then, she attended dental assistant school and worked as a dental assistant and office clerk in two separate locations for nearly three years. But when the pandemic hit, Tracy found herself laid off from the dentist’s office.

a photo collage of Tracy and her husband actively grooming different dogs of various sizes
Unemployed, she returned to the dog grooming dream she’d nurtured for so many years, which is when she noticed there was only one area groomer and a lot of demand. With pandemic relief funds in hand, Tracy Googled the average groomer’s income and came across Wag’n Tails “Putting Your Dreams in Motion” video. This was the proof she needed to get her husband’s buy-in for her dream!

“Right away, I took the video and showed him,” Tracy explains. “To my surprise, he said, ‘Well, if this is what you want to do, then we better go all out! Go find what you want to do—shop or mobile.’”

Tracy discovered mobile groomer Jessica Adorno’s Facebook page and says, “Jessica continues to inspire me and is available for Q&A. I went to the Hanvey site and KNEW this was it! It was a huge step for us, as I had no formal experience in dog grooming other than my little home hobby of breeding and grooming. It was risky.”

Tracy found a 2017 Mercedes-Benz Van in Kentucky, which fit the timeframe for Hanvey to convert. While waiting on the van conversion, Willie and Tracy brainstormed business names. “I thought Scrubs and Loves would be fitting,” recalls Tracy. “No one wants to love a dirty dog; the name was fitting.”

Knowing she needed more than just a van to build her business, Tracy went to work on acquiring everything else she needed: “I used my unemployment money to buy all my grooming shears, clippers, blades, etc., and saved some for my decals on the van,” she shares. “But most importantly, I used some of the money for my online grooming class to get my certificate from” 

However, an online grooming school doesn’t offer hands-on grooming, so Tracy found other programs to join, too, such as, Paragon School of Grooming and Groom Haüs.

a before and after comparison of Tracy's mobile grooming van
With her newly-converted van and growing grooming skills, Tracy took to her driveway as an internship. “I went online to my Facebook page and posted about our new business and asked if anyone would like to give me a try,” she shares. “I groomed dogs for free as I worked on doing everything I learned. Good people still tipped well, but I never asked, and everyone knew it was practice for me.

“I worked for several weeks grooming all sorts of dogs,” Tracy continues. “At the end of my course, I sent in three pictures and aced my test! I was happy to print off my certificate and happily display it in my van today.” 

In August 2020, Tracy officially opened Scrubs and Loves for business. “I couldn’t believe I was finally grooming and owning my own business,” she shares. “I was really doing it, and it felt great! It came so easily to me. I absolutely get an inside rush of pride every time someone says to their dog how beautiful they look. It’s a good feeling, and I’m so blessed to have this wonderful career.” 

Since then, Tracy continues to learn from different groomers and websites. Of course, some techniques are more difficult to master.” Tracy says, “I struggle with Asian fusion-style grooms and Poodle feet, and I struggle to get both sides of any dog’s face the same.” 

Always the researcher, Tracy found a tool for men’s beards online that solved her problem. “One day I was online ordering products, and I saw a neat little tool for men who had beards, and right away got a bright idea. So, I bought that Beard Guide and tried it out. My struggles with getting the face the same on both sides were over.

“Sure, it took some time to learn how to hold it just right,” Tracy continues. “And not all dogs want to give me a minute to hold it there, but it worked. So glad I discovered it! I can use it around feet, too.”

Eager to immerse themselves even further into the grooming industry, Tracy and Willie attended their first Groom Expo in 2022. “I will never forget that day,” Tracy shares. “We walked in, and both our jaws dropped. It was absolutely fantastic. The lights, the music, the people, and all the products. It was like walking into a secret world of dog grooming—a members-only type thing. I’ve never felt so proud to be part of something so grand.”

Willie even took the Brusher Bather Certification Course at Groom Expo, and now helps Tracy out in the van on Saturdays. “He said it is his downtime from work,” Tracy explains. “It clears his mind, and he enjoys talking to the people and seeing everybody’s smiling faces.”

With business booming and the money coming in, Tracy is working towards finding the right balance of the “perfect-fit” dogs. “I have been grooming nonstop since I started,” she shares. “If I allowed it, this business would have me 24-7, so eventually, I would like to slow down and do just a few dogs a day—weeding out any dog that makes me stressed or feel uncomfortable. This opens the way to take on other dogs that would be a good fit for me.”

a brown poodle getting its face trimmed
Always the researcher, Tracy found a tool for men’s beards online that solved her problem.
Slowing down in her business will also allow Tracy to continue to invest in her education and work toward her future goals. “For now, I’m working on Breed Standard grooms and improving them by watching as many educational courses as I can.  Later, I would like to open a school for new groomers in our area.” 

To conclude, Tracy says, “Each person needs to explore their own value and priorities. If you believe it, then you can achieve it. I know it’s hard to do it if no one is backing you up—and you can’t do it alone—but if there is a strong will for it, then there will be a way.”