“I really love and appreciate the grooming industry and how flexible this career is. People can customize their experience with it and make it work around their lives, not the other way around.” These wise words were spoken by stylist Victoria Thomas, a woman who has gone the extra mile(s) with her own career.
Thomas, owner of A Dog’s World Mobile Grooming, started out training through Petco. In 2016 she bought a new grooming van and launched a successful business in Florida.
“I was mobile for six years,” she shared. “I started to feel like I needed to step back a little bit, and my wrists were hurting. I hired an employee and I was only grooming three days a week, but I wasn’t sure I would continue.
“One day, on a trip to the Florida Keys,” Thomas continued, “I was in a store, and somehow the topic that I groom cats came up. Several people there chimed in very sincerely and told me I should come to the Keys to offer that service because there was a shortage of cat groomers. They really meant it, and I considered it. I lived several hours away, so commuting there was out of the question, but it got me thinking. It seemed like no matter where I went, people wanted me to groom their pets. I then looked up ‘Travel Grooming’ on Facebook and found some information there.”
Inspired by what she found, Thomas sold her house in Florida, and in 2021, she hit the road. That year she traveled to 15 states, grooming where she stopped. She stayed with friends and family or pitched a tent at campgrounds. She is even able to sleep in her van. At some campgrounds, she has been asked to stay a while for free to provide her service to the campers there.
Thomas normally only stays a few days at most stops, but she enjoyed the area around Yellowstone National Park so much that she stayed there for three weeks. During her travels, she has paddleboarded in the Carolinas, hiked for three days in New Mexico and explored the places she has stayed like a native. Her favorite stops were in Florida, because of all the beach time.
“Meeting people all over the country is probably my favorite thing about Travel Grooming,” Thomas says. “I get to meet a lot of the locals and get a really good insight into what each area is about. And I get to spend lots of time outdoors exploring nature.”
However, she is not alone in her adventures. Longhaired Dachshund Oskar has a seat in the front of the van, and Persian cats Hemmingway and Sherriff also tag along.
“They do great! They sleep in the tent with me, and I am working on leash-training them,” Thomas shared about her cats.
While traveling, she has grooming supplies shipped to places where she is planning to stay and does her laundry at a laundromat. As far as depositing revenue, the bank she has an account with is common in many of the areas she has visited. And she accepts cash, checks, credit cards and Venmo so she can offer a variety of options for her customers to pay for grooming services.
Thomas finds clients as she travels by social media and networking. She has found that telling people she is looking for work while she is in the area is effective.
“People want to be helpful, support a small business, and they refer their friends and family,” she shares.
Her van has a wrap with her business information, and many of her customers come to her simply by seeing her van parked where she is staying. In many ways, her plan has worked out the way she hoped—everywhere she goes, people want her to groom for them.
Soon Thomas plans to travel to California and Washington State, taking her time to get there. She is hoping to reach out to groomers along the way to network and perhaps lend a hand. The lack of stability and cost of fuel are downsides, but the joys of her way of life outweigh the negative aspects.
“I don’t see an end to my Travel Grooming,” Thomas says.
I asked what she would tell other groomers who might be interested in Travel Grooming, to which she replied, “I would tell them to follow their dreams for sure. To take advantage of the resources and people around them. Anyone can do it if they want to.”
Thomas has put her skills to work in a unique way that allows her to earn a living as she explores the country. She has, indeed, made her career work around her life—one exciting day at a time. ✂️