After working for other grooming businesses, Katie Soistman’s goal for many years had been building and running her own grooming salon. Eventually, her pride in her hard work and devotion paid off. Summer Meadows Pet Spa has been operating successfully for over 10 years in beautiful rural Hampstead, Maryland as the first pet “spa” and only cage-free experience in her county.
Katie started by renting a farmhouse that she could also groom out of, but she quickly outgrew the space. She then moved to a Main Street retail space in town and business boomed. A few more years of hard work and saving, and she was able to buy her own farmhouse and property with an unfinished outbuilding which she began converting to the pet spa of her dreams. Peaceful, quiet, immaculate, safe and picturesque, Summer Meadows Pet Spa is already at capacity with a full schedule of regular clients that she just loves—and they love her.
Diligently self-taught, Katie started out bathing as a teenager. When she was 11 years old, she got her own toy Poodle. She would work off her dog’s grooming costs by bathing for the groomers for 10 years while she completed her schooling.
Katie’s commitment to hard work and saving enabled her to steadily move towards her goal. She worked to convert her new home’s outbuilding to a grooming salon, one room at a time, starting with the lobby. The formerly-unfinished building became the Summer Meadows Pet Spa, which she named for her beloved Newfoundland, Summer.
Now, at 33 years old, Katie grooms solo with no other staff. She cherishes her clientele which she describes as “truly amazing.” There is a waiting list for others in her area hoping for an opening. Everyone comes on a six-week or less schedule.
“Having everyone on a schedule is so wonderful,” Katie says, as it frees her to focus on the pets and her work.
“When I purchased the home, my shop was an unfinished garage that I slowly converted. It didn’t even have water! Now it’s a crisp and clean oasis that I welcome my clients to so proudly,” Katie continues. “Just this year, my newest project was adding a courtyard for my clients to relax in and wait for their pets if they’d like. My work room is spacious and filled with natural light and I really try to focus on the wellbeing of the pets in my care by offering a personal hour dedicated to only them.”
Katie calls herself a “small dog specialist” and stopped taking any doodles years ago, necessitated by the same wrist issues that plague many groomers. She offers “After Hours” service for those unable to wait, but charges time and a half for her overtime.
Cat grooming in a separate part of the building is one special feature of Summer Meadows Pet Spa. Katie regularly reserves cat-exclusive days in her schedule. She had groomed cats before, but finally went to school to master the craft. Katie graduated from NCGI (the National Cat Groomers Institute) in March 2020, and became a proud CFMG (Certified Feline Master Groomer). She reports that her clients tell her how hard it is to find a good cat groomer. Her cat-owning clients are kind, grateful, flexible, pleasant and good tippers.
Katie takes design seriously. Her farmhouse on the same property as the pet spa looks a lot like her shop, complete with thoughtful décor and only select pieces of furniture. Katie loves high-quality antiques and is saving to open another business, this time again on Main Street—an Antique Shop. She works one weekend a month towards building out that space, which she has already begun work on. Attending yard sales and flea markets are among her favorite pastimes.
Katie’s favorite aspect of her work is her commitment to one-on-one service for every client. In true spa-like fashion, each pet client gets a warm towel from her towel warmer and has her full attention for the entire time they are together. She has no cages and has her clients “well trained” for immediate pickup upon completion of each groom. She keeps to a six-hour day, grooming five to eight dogs maximum.
Katie’s dedication to better her own craft includes plans to become CPR and First Aid certified. She maintains a great rapport with fellow groomers in her area by hosting grooming get-togethers at her house where they enjoy parties by her pool. Local groomers come over to swim, get education and hold classes. Katie loves groomer education and usually attends three trade shows a year, including Groom Expo in Hershey, PA—close enough that she can stay at home.
Katie expresses that being a rural groomer has many rewards, including a beautiful place to work and live, great clients and a more relaxed lifestyle. ✂️