Four-legged friends (and their owners) rejoice! Francis Road’s eclectic mix of independent stores, cafes, takeaways and useful services has just received a fresh boost thanks to another enterprising local seeing a useful gap in the market. We met founder Ian Okulicz to find out more about his doggy dreams.
Why Puppydog? “I’ve worked in the veterinary industry for the last eight years, slowly moving into roles further away from animal contact, more training and office-based. At the very start of the pandemic I was offered redundancy or to reapply for my job with my then role.”
And so the business was a lockdown baby? “Yes, basically I realised how much I was missing my animal-filled days. I made the decision to take the payout and go with my dream. I’m a fully qualified dog groomer to a ONC level 3 diploma and thought, ‘let’s do this’. I had the space provisionally but needed the funds to get it converted and the business started. And so it all seemed perfect timing. Puppydog was put together solely on a redundancy payment, and built through the start of the pandemic which seems crazy. But I’m so excited to be living out my dream.”
What’s the USP? “I love dogs, I love people and I love my community. I saw Leyton had the need for a groomer and thought this would be a great idea not just for myself, but for everyone as it’s something I love doing. I’m currently taking appointments during evenings and weekends only, but my plan and dream is to take Puppydog fulltime as soon as I can. And I’m seeing that goal getting closer and closer now.
What is it about our furry friends? “I have always been around animals my whole life. I like to build relationships with them, make them feel safe and gain their trust. Every doggy is so different and here at Puppydog I will take time to build a personal relationship with each pup and owner to make the groom a nice and relaxing experience.”
When did you move to the area? “My partner and I came to Leyton from Hackney about two years ago, the best decision we ever made. I love the community spirit here, the amount of independent businesses run by locals, especially on Francis Road E10, and the fact we are on the edge of Epping Forest: nature at its best but on the central line, too…you can’t beat that! It’s dog-owner heaven.”
How did the hook-up with florist Edie Rose happen? “Owner Helen and I met through the Borrow My Doggy app: when I enquired about her dog Norman, we hit it off instantly spending many a night in our local, the Northcote. One sunny Sunday we were sat putting the world to rights over a pint when I mentioned my Puppydog dream. Helen had recently moved to a bigger premises on Francis Road, and offered some space out the back of the flower shop to convert, we now like to call this the south annex. And the rest is history. The salon was built through lockdown by all local trades people. And here we are, up and running. So thankful for Edie Rose sharing their amazing space on Francis Road with me.”
Finally, what else would you like readers to know? “Puppydog covers all dog breeds, sizes, ages and temperaments. Flat, smooth, wired and curly coats: we welcome all dogs, whether that be a fancy breed standard groom or a pet groom. Come and check us out.”
Puppydog Groom Room, 228 Francis Road, E10 6NQ. Phone: 07377264565. Please follow them on Facebook and Instagram @puppydog_grooming_leyton for pupdates
Love dogs? Read the touching tale of the long life of Leytonstoner founder Stephen Emms’s 16 year-old Jack Russell here.