Although The LaundryMutt, Wilmette's newest dog grooming salon, just opened in November, owner Melissa Morbee has already found success.
A groomer of seven years, Morbee has loyal clients who have been there from the beginning.
The Laundrymutt is a family-run enterprise, with Morbee's husband Russ as her assistant, and her son Alex as the dog bather. Her long-time friend Kim Meskill, who used to work as her manager at a pet store, does much of the prep-work, including brushing out matted hair, clipping nails, and blow-drying.
Morbee, who has worked with and shown dogs for about twice as long, has always loved them.
"It's just something I always wanted to do," she said. "Dogs see you for what you are, and I like that."
Meskill, whose aunt works in the pet industry and whose grandma was a dog trainer, has also worked with dogs for most of her life.
"I was two-years-old, sleeping on bags of dog food," Meskill said. "Plus, Melissa told me it was the best job in the world."
She said the secret to good grooming is patience.
"You have to be at peace with your surroundings. They know what's coming," Morbee said of the often-dreaded bath time. "So you have to be loving, kind and compassionate. That's why we do cage-free grooming."
At The LaundryMutt, dogs can roam freely, which lessens the stress of getting groomed.
"For the most part, dogs enjoy not being crated," Morbee said.
Dogs are also bathed with organic shampoo and conditioner. Morbee recently installed an oven so that dogs can be fed fresh-baked treats.
Rescued dogs also get one free cleanup.
"It's something I can do, on my part," Morbee said. "I'm grateful for the people who rescue."
Morbee has hundreds of dedicated clients from her time at Pet Styling by Melissa in Northbrook. When she decided it was time to change from renting to owning, some of her clients took an active part in getting her set up in the new space. Owners of an electronics store gave Morbee a great deal on a washer and dryer. One successful photographer will be donating pictures to put up on the walls in the waiting area. Morbee also gets referrals from Noah's Ark in Winnetka and Kindred Spirits Healing Arts in Evanston.
"It's so nice to see old faces who've heard I'm here," Morbee said. "I have great dogs, and that says a lot about the owners. Those dogs are loved."
A full groom is about $40 for a small dog and $55 for a medium to large sized dog, but clients who commit to regular grooming sessions can receive discounts. As her way of promoting good pet care, Morbee also offers a free session for every nine purchased.
"I don't know if its luck, I don't know if its blessings. But I have the most wonderful clientele," Morbee said. "I'm grateful every day."
The LaundryMutt is located at 729 Ridge Road, Wilmette. To make an appointment, call Melissa Morbee at 847-256-8445.