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Women in Business Q&A:
Feature Tailwaggers

The Fox Valley is a great place for women in business! We’ve interviewed one of the women-owned businesses in the Fox Cities because we’re proud to support our local female entrepreneurs.

People standing in front of Tailwaggers Doggy Daycare sign

Women in Business

Some people may not realize just how unique it is to be a woman business owner.  Even though in 2015, women owned 9.4 million firms in the U.S. according to the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), overall the number of women business owners and women in leadership positions is much lower than the number of males.  It is important to celebrate the growth that women business owners have had, but also important to recognize that there is still room to grow in regards to breaking cultural norms and stereotypes related to women in the workplace.

Introducing Tailwaggers

Tailwaggers is a doggy daycare owned by Kristin Schlosser & Tara Morey.  Kristin & Tara, two sisters originally from Neenah, are partners in the business. Since 2005, Tailwaggers has been offering top-rated dog daycare, boarding, and grooming for beloved pets in the Fox Valley. 

When opening their business, Tara & Kristin did a lot of research and developed their own original ideas of how to do things. They are expanding with franchises and have a new location opening in Ohio.  They own two locations directly (Greenville & Menasha) and 3 franchises in the area.  The franchise locations have to follow their business model but they all have a little different layout. 

Q&A With the Owners of Tailwaggers

What inspired you to start your business?
Our love of dogs!  I (Tara) had 2 golden retrievers and always wanted to take them to work. Golden Retriever’s are extremely needy and I wanted to have them with me all the time.  It’s our way of loving dogs and having all the kinds of dogs in the world without actually having to own them!  Kristin had a yellow lab puppy and was always looking for options while working.  We found a doggy daycare but thought that we could do it better.  We started researching for a couple years and then it just sort of came together!

What struggles did you face early in?
It was really scary for me (Tara) at first.  I was quitting an occupation that I had gone to school for and had been good at it but was burning out at the same time.  Everything was a process and a getting started was a lot of work, but we didn’t focus on the little things.  We wanted it so badly we just kept driving towards our goal.  When unexpected things happened, we tackled them. 

When and why did you really start to grow?
At the beginning, it was extremely scary to get started.  Doggy daycares have come a long way.  We started with a couple of dogs, and as the weeks and days progressed we gained more customers.  Word of mouth was fantastic and the pet owners are great – they can see how much we love their dogs as well and treat them like their own.  In 6 months we had grown by leaps and bounds.  It just snowballed and within 2 years we were bursting at the seams.  Kristin decided to get in the business and we decided to create the model and opened another location 5 years later in Greenville – which is now our biggest location and is the model location. 

Working with American National Bank

What brought you to American National Bank? 
Mike Sanders has been our banker for 12 years – he worked with us before Tailwaggers even started.  He’s really easy to work with, very communicative, and really wants to see businesses succeed and makes sure that they have the best products to help with their businesses.  We didn’t know much about ANB – I’ve always been more of a credit union person. I’m a frugal person and always thought they had the best rates.  When I approached Mike about reducing rates he was more than happy to help. 

What services do you use? 
The loan services and online banking is great and we’re looking at checking & savings. With a place like American National Bank, you expect it to be nationwide – not one location.  With everything online, it makes it really easy to work with them.

How has ANB helped solve financial challenges?
Finances have always been a challenge – I don’t like debt at all.  ANB has helped me feel a lot more comfortable managing debt.  They are super easy to work with and offer really great rates – and we can set up automatic payments.  It was an easy transition to make from our previous financial institution.

Do you feel a banking relationship is important? 
Yes – we’ve been so fortunate & blessed to be as successful as we have been but I feel like if we ran into a situation where we needed some extra help – I have no doubt that ANB and Mike would step in and help, which would ease our worries. 

Being a Woman Business Owner

What’s it like be a woman business owner? 
I (Tara) never gave it a whole lot of thought.  I’ve always been a very determined person and very driven.  If I wanted something I just went out and did it.  I never looked at the gender thing – but people always think my husband owns the business.  He’ll always say, “no – my wife owns it!”  A lot of people assume that the male owns the business – but I’ve ignored a lot of it and just push forward.  I hope I’m a good role model for a lot of women.  Taking care of dogs is a great business – and you’re helping people too.  We strive to gain and keep people’s trust.

What advice would you give to young women who want to succeed in the workplace?
It’s important if you have a goal or dream to drive towards it.  It’s scary but don’t give up on it and do your best.  Also, know that you need to do your research – have your facts and ducks in a row.

Do you think women feel intimidated in business?
Yes – fear holds people back a lot but if you just put your head in the sand and don’t let that stop you. 

How do you achieve work-life balance?
It’s really hard – there are choices along the way, as far as work vs. personal life.  I do have to work at night a lot – making calls and doing the books at night.  I try to manage home life with an 8-year-old, but it takes a little bit of sacrifice.  As business grows and becomes steady – and as long as your family is supportive, it becomes easier.  There are a lot of hours to put in when starting a business, but if you hang in there, it pays off and you’re able to spend more time with family later on.