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Hidden Gems: Meet Rene Hernandez and Yanely Milanes of Wag n’ Swag

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rene Hernandez and Yanely Milanes.

Hi Rene and Yanely, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
We (Yanely and René) met back in 2017 while working for our old dog grooming/retail company, Healthy Spot. I (René) worked as the Lead Groomer while Yanely worked as the salon manager. Together, while taking advantage of the responsibilities and capacities that came with our positions, we were able to create an environment for our team and the clients that was unique in its application, compared to most dog grooming salons in the industry as well as within that company itself. After three years of running a successful salon in a variety of challenging scenarios, we felt confident that we had created and maintained something special. The feedback from our team members and our clients was also evidence that the way we ran things was unique and efficient. I suffered a severe knee injury on February 10th, 2020, that, in my opinion, at least for me personally, was the first event that would eventually lead to Yanely and I starting Wag n’ Swag. Being disabled for about six months gave me the time and perspective that led to where we are now.

While I was off work, Yanely had her own epiphanies as she witnessed changes in the company that she didn’t necessarily agree with. A few having to do with actions during the initial stages of the pandemic. Yanely and I had always briefly mentioned to each other, in passive form, the idea of starting our own mobile grooming service, however, a series of fortunate events led to us being able to open an actual physical location. Things seemed to line up for us and we quickly ran out of excuses to not go for it. There is no question that she and I would not be where we are now without the amazing support from our friends and family. Yanely’s boyfriend, and someone I consider a great friend, Christopher Lemus, has been instrumental not only in terms of psychological support but also in a variety of practical instances, from the construction of our “vintage” wooden counters to our most recent bathing room renovation, he has been willing and able at a moment’s notice any time we need support.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It has definitely been a bumpy road. In general, Yanely and I have mostly had to navigate the business-owning aspects of the salon on our own. From general permits and licenses to payroll for our new hires, it’s all uncharted territory for us so there is a meticulous approach on our part. Not being able to pay ourselves for the first few months was definitely a daunting instance both psychologically and physically. Recently, Yanely had to have surgery on both of her hands due to an intense form of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. This had her out of work for about a month which meant I was at the salon without her physical support for a few weeks. Luckily, Chris was able to help us out by coming in a few days after her initial recovery. We anticipate many more hurdles, but we both feel that with each obstacle we overcome, we gain more experience and become that much better at managing our business.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
We provide grooming services for dogs of all sizes and breeds. We offer a variety of styles to compliment the most common breeds. At the core of our services, we stand by our belief that caring about the pets in our care and listening and acknowledging the concerns and notes our human clients provide leads to a grooming experience that cannot be found very easily. The evidence of the effectiveness of this practice is that the majority of our clients continue bridging their pets back to us after their first visit. We have always felt that having the financial (profitability) aspect of the grooming process as a secondary goal to a positive and comfortable experience is the best way to ensure the prioritization of the pets in our care.

Pricing:

  • Spa (baths) start at $35
  • A la carte services range from $5-$20

Contact Info:

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