ASBTDC Success Story: Hound Town LLC

Luisa Santos
Luisa Santos worked with the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center regional office at Arkansas Tech University to launch her dog grooming business.

Luisa Santos wanted to create a space for grooming where dogs can be dogs.

With the assistance of the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center regional office at Arkansas Tech University, she now owns and operates such a business.

Hound Town LLC opened Aug. 24, 2021, at 411 N. Elmira Ave., Suite 2, in Russellville.

Santos has groomed dogs since 2017, starting as a dog bather and working her way up to professional groomer.

“I get to know each and every pup that walks in the door, and we build a relationship that is more than just a haircut,” said Santon. “It brings me such joy to have a returning canine client walk right in and make themselves at home. My salon is a place where dogs are seen as individuals, not as numbers.”

Luisa came to the ASBTDC in June 2021 with the goal of leaving her groomer job and opening her own business. The center helped her assess the financial viability of her project, and she received step-by-step guidance with the business startup process.

“The most meaningful assistance the ASBTDC provided for my business was guidance,” said Santos. “I was overwhelmed with where to even begin. Ronda (Hawkins) was like a fairy godparent I could lean on, listening to my concerns, reassuring me that I was on the right track and bringing my attention to the parts of starting a business I never knew about. Knowing that I have access to that fountain of knowledge has taken a weight off my shoulders.”

Like many businesses, Santos encountered difficulties trying to open in a pandemic.

“The main obstacle I experienced opening a business during a pandemic was supply shortages,” said Santos. “It took weeks to get a grooming table, professional tubs were out of stock with back-order dates months out and shipping was delayed. While it wasn’t my first choice, I was able to find a grooming table that would arrive by my target opening date. I designed my own tubs and had them custom built. I did my best to forward plan supply orders so if a one-week ship time turned into two weeks, I could continue operating smoothly.”

For many dogs, a trip to the groomer is stressful. Her full-service grooming salon aims to make her canine customers and their humans happy to return.

The owner is happy to be there, too, and glad to be running her own business.

“I have often daydreamed about working for myself, but I never thought I would actually start my own business,” said Santos. “I am so thankful I decided to gamble on myself and go for it. The more I learn, the more learning I realize I have to do, and I have a new hunger for knowledge. While at times clumsy, I continue to take strides forward and I cannot wait to see where this adventure leads me.”

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Editor’s Note: This article was written and submitted by the ASBTDC at ATU staff.