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Success Story

Callie Shackelford taught herself to groom, then started a small business that thanks to her hard work and ambition shows no signs of slowing its growth anytime soon.




Fluffy Mutt Grooming and Spa, Port Lavaca, TX

OWNER: Callie Shackelford; URL:; FACEBOOK:; INSTAGRAM:; FOUNDED: 2017; LOCATIONS: 1; AREA: 1,700 square feet indoors; TOP BRANDS: Vetnique, Hydra, Pride + Groom, Lucy & Co, Bosco and Roxy’s, Foggy Dog Bows, Bad Tags, Pet Releaf, Natural Dog Company, The Worthy Dog, Sassy Woof; EMPLOYEES: 4 full-time, 1 part-time

CALLIE SHACKELFORD WANTS to inspire others with her business success because of all she has overcome. The steep climb began with a pregnancy at age 17 and then another four years later. After government assistance and income from a minimum-wage job grooming dogs at a vet clinic covered her family’s expenses each month, she had just $20 or so left over.

But at age 24, Shackelford took money socked away from tax refunds to set up Fluffy Mutt Grooming and Spa in Port Lavaca, TX. Her 500 square feet cost $350 in rent, and she started with a used table bought online, inexpensive shears, and a DIY bathtub made from plywood and a water trough. Of the decision to turn a job learned via YouTube videos into a career and small business of her own, she says, “I’ve always had artistic talent. To me, grooming is art, and I like a challenge. I love how with grooming, no hour or day of work is ever the same … it’s just fun!” The higher income also encouraged her. “Within one month, I had made more money than I ever had. I paid my bills, got off government assistance and reinvested the rest into better equipment.”

Congratulations From Your Business Coach and Support System

That first year, 2017, Shackelford worked solo seven days a week. As the Fluffy Mutt team grew and moved into progressively larger spaces, revenue increased as well.

In 2022 with four employees grooming as many as 28 dogs daily, the business had grown 125%.

These days, groomers handle all appointments, freeing her to be an entrepreneur rather than a business owner elbows deep in a bathtub.

From left, Kristy Salazar, Morgan Blakeman, Callie Shackelford and Taylor Blakeman

From left, Kristy Salazar, Morgan Blakeman, Callie Shackelford and Taylor Blakeman

Making It Work

Shackelford defines her brand of hustle simply as hard work. “My kids are my main motivation. I want to set a good example and show them what life can be like if they work hard for it,” she says, admitting to living in “fear all the time” in the early days of Fluffy Mutt, but “Now I don’t look at it that way because I know that in the end, it always ends up working out.”

It does, though, because of her. For example, in August of 2022, Shackelford was given two months to move out of her previous location. Turning one of Port Lavaca’s oldest buildings from a saloon into Fluffy Mutt’s new home became a nightmare. After losing $10,000 to a contractor, she and her boyfriend, Remington, completed the remodeling themselves, leaving her no time for the existing salon. “It was a blessing in disguise because it made me step back and give my team more power in the business. I’m so proud of them because they just ran it.”

Fluffy Mutt gained square footage in the move, growing to 1,700 square feet that allow for a more spacious front area that makes client check-ins easier and encourages shopping. Each wall sports a different bright color, with a menu of services featuring fun graphics hanging behind the desk. In the retail area, rustic fixtures hold everything from grooming supplies and related supplements to toys and gear to treats and chews. A birthday area offers decorated cookies and all the supplies needed to celebrate at home. In the back, the grooming space remains separate from the bathing area to keep noise and distractions to a minimum for dogs on the table.


Next Level

Shackelford shares credit for Fluffy Mutt’s continuous growth with two business support groups. She belongs to Apex, a community of high-achieving, driven entrepreneurs from various industries who meet quarterly in Dallas. The group keeps her focused on getting to the top 10% of the pet industry and never making excuses. Among the lessons learned are how to create core values for her business and to reward accordingly to improve staff satisfaction and retention.

In addition to hourly pay, team members keep their tips, totaling about $300 to $400 per week. Shackelford gives quarterly bonuses based on Fluffy Mutt’s core values of reliability, quality, teamwork, growth and service.

“I try to give them a sense of ownership in the business so that they stay inspired and motivated,” she says. “I want them to know that they are important and have a purpose, not just a dog bather or groomer. I include them in all the decisions. We order merchandise together. We decorate together. We make changes together.”

Shackelford and her team enjoy three-day weekends every week, thanks to shop hours Tuesday through Friday. “I want my employees to feel like they have a life. I don’t want them to get burned out. Whenever we’re doing so many dogs every day, I want them to have that three-day weekend to look forward to.”

She also finds support as a member of Pet Boss Club, which provides her with ideas for events, guidance on retailing markups and markdowns, and ways to package products and services. In addition to taking part in weekly and monthly video meetings, Shackelford says, “They have a podcast I listen to religiously.”

Shackelford added retail to her salon in 2021. She also takes products to local markets on the weekend to promote her business.

Shackelford added retail to her salon in 2021. She also takes products to local markets on the weekend to promote her business.


Fluffy Mutt has a roster of 3,000-plus clients, with 95% booked as repeat business despite the fact that Shackelford charges more than other area groomers. That’s quite the coverage for a town of 11,000-plus, even factoring in visiting RVers with dogs who need baths, customers from nearby Victoria, and the 20 clients who travel from San Antonio, Houston and Austin.

She builds anticipation with intentional fun and add-ons. Of the year-round decorated tree and specials that change with the holiday or season, Shackelford says “We want to create a vibe. Our clients look forward to seeing what we’re going to do next. It’s fun and inviting.”

Spa Day, the salon’s bestselling add-on, runs $24.99 and includes additional treatments, a higher-quality bow or bandana, a goodie bag and more. It also includes a printed photo of the freshly groomed pet on a fun photo set. Shackelford says of the expense, “It doesn’t cost that much. Literally, I make everything that I spend on it back with like two add-ons.”

At least 10 to 15 clients per day book the Spa Day. That’s an extra $52,000 to $78,000 each year. Plus, the photos circulate on social media, making ad spending unnecessary.

A tree changes with the holidays and seasons, as do photo backdrops.

A tree changes with the holidays and seasons, as do photo backdrops.

The Future

Shackelford plans to open a second location in a bigger town, but says that there are “still a couple of things I need to hand off before I can,” such as payroll and purchasing. A rebrand in late 2022 she describes as “professional, fun and eye-catching” also solidified her business for possible franchising and signature product lines in the future.

Shackelford would also like to host entrepreneurial seminars for high school students in work programs. “For a long time, I was really embarrassed by my past, and I never told my story. Once I did, I realized how it impacted so many young people that are in that same position I was in, and I try to focus on helping those. I have inspired four people to start a business, and all of them have succeeded.”


Five More Cool Things About Fluffy Mutt Grooming and Spa

1. FRIDAY BATH DAYS Rather than interrupting full grooming appointments every day, Fluffy Mutt schedules quicker baths and brush-outs for Fridays. It’s more efficient and optimizes daily revenue. It also serves the needs of RVers staying in the area wanting weekly or frequent dog baths.

2. HOLIDAY GIVEAWAYS For Easter, Shackelford filled a large golden egg with $250 worth of dog merchandise, and anyone who purchased the “Mutt Bunny Spa Add-On” was entered to win it. It helped drive more purchases of the add-on.

3. COME ON IN Offering $12 walk-in nail trims and filing has added 5% to Fluffy Mutt’s annual revenue. On average, grooming assistants (or anyone with time) do five extra sets of nails each day.

4. PET ADOPTIONS Team members take the Fluffy Mutt photo set to the local animal control facility, then hang the photos of adoptable dogs and cats on a greenery wall at the salon. Adopters can then get a free bath, nail trim and ear cleaning simply by showing proof of adoption from the facility

5. ADOPT A GRANDPARENT During the holidays, the salon organizes “Adopt-A-Grandparent.” Clients can purchase and personalize a gift tag for $20 that goes on the salon’s Christmas tree. With the money, Shackelford buys gifts for more than 150 nursing home residents.




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