How to Become a Professional Pet Stylist

Alex Martin
December 27, 2023

We dive into the world of grooming schools, the importance of continuing education, and the artistry behind being a pet stylist. Lory shares their experiences in the industry, from mentoring new students to explaining the intricacies of coat care to clients

Listen to this podcast on your favorite platform

Key Timecodes

  • (00:45) – Show intro and background history
  • (04:09) – Deeper into her background history
  • (13:41) – Understanding her business strategies
  • (19:12) – A bit about her marketing strategies
  • (25:34) – How she achieved her financial independence
  • (30:23) – How money can buy your happiness
  • (37:23) – What is the worst advice she ever received
  • (38:44) – What is the best advice she ever received
  • (40:59) – Guest contacts


[00:00:00.000] – Intro

Hey this is Sean Tepper, the host of Payback Time, an approachable and transparent podcast in building businesses, increasing wealth, and achieving financial freedom. I’d like to bring on guests to hear authentic stories while giving you actionable takeaways you can use today. Let’s go.

[00:00:17.180] – Sean

My next guest shares her inspirational story of transitioning from an English teacher to a full-time freelance writer in the finance industry. In this episode, she talks about how much she charges, how she was able to move from lower paying clients to higher paying clients, and how she markets her services. In fact, she talks about how she is pretty much able to put herself into a position where the leads come on autopilot. It’s a good place to be. This is a fun one. Please welcome Emily Guy-Birken. Emily, welcome to the show.

[00:00:47.050] – Emily

Thank you so much for having me.

[00:00:48.690] – Sean

Thanks for joining me. And just a heads up to the audience, Emily is from Milwaukee. We’ve got somebody else from the Milwaukee area. This is great. Milwaukee represent. Did not plan that. There’s just a network of people out there, a company that connected us that doesn’t even have a location in Wisconsin. And here we are, Wisconsin.

[00:01:08.650] – Emily

It’s pretty awesome.

[00:01:10.380] – Sean

Let’s get right into it. And why don’t you tell us about your background?

[00:01:15.020] – Emily

I am a personal finance writer and the author of five books on personal finance. I did not plan to do this. This was an accidental career. I’m actually an English teacher by training. I taught high school English for four years, and then I tripped and fell backwards into writing about personal finance. So I taught from 2006 to 2010. My oldest child was born in tail end of August 2010, in. And we happened to move from one state to another that summer. So because we’re real good at timing, I was not going to be able to find a teaching job because I’d have to immediately leave to go on maternity leave. So the original plan was I was going to take a year off to stay home with the baby. But then also because we’re real good at timing, we couldn’t sell our house in Ohio, where we’d been moving from. So we went from two incomes to one, two people to three, and one mortgage to two. So it was a little stressful. So because I wasn’t going to be able to teach, I thought I’ll see if I can find some freelance writing that I can do.

[00:02:29.400] – Emily

And one of the first gigs that I landed was for a personal finance website. My dad was a financial planner, so I did grow up in the industry and I’ve always been a bit of a money nerd. And I was like, oh, I can do this. And it took off. So it was very much not the intention of any aspect of my career plan, but it worked out really well, especially since we had moved from Columbus, Ohio, which is not where either my husband or I are from. We met there, but we’re both from the East Coast to Lafayette, Indiana, where we didn’t know anyone and had no family or friends when we got there. And so being able to transition into a freelancing job meant that I could be the primary parent for our child. And I didn’t have to worry about the like, oh, how do we take time off because the baby is sick? Or those sorts of questions like, Oh, we got to get the kid to the well-child visits. That is very difficult when you don’t have a network. So the intention was not for me to continue. The baby turned 13 earlier this year.

[00:03:36.480] – Emily

So the intention was not for me to continue doing this for the next decade-plus, but it turned out that it was a much better fit for both my skills and temperament and needs of the family. And I was able to relatively quickly recreate the amount of money that I was making as a teacher. And so it worked out really, really well for the whole family. So I never anticipated that I would be doing this, but I’m so glad that I did. And I feel like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.

[00:04:10.140] – Sean

Thank you for the context there, a backstory. You said you were able to match and exceed salary. How long did that take?

[00:04:17.610] – Emily

Let’s see. So we had our first child in 2010, and then we had our second in 2013. And so it was definitely after our second baby because I ended up taking some time off with our second. And in between all of that, like in that middle time, in between the two boys, the plan still was that I was going to do this and then maybe go back to teaching. And it wasn’t until we were juggling two kids and I was like, I can’t be a teacher. I don’t have two kids. There’s just no way. That I decided to really double down and focus on making sure that I was maximizing my income. Early on, I made a lot of very common freelancer mistakes like jumping at any opportunity, even if it was low pay because well, this could dry up at any time, so I got to take what I can. And accepting lower pay than I was worth, those sorts of things. I had a few clients, none in the personal finance realm, honestly, but I had a few clients who ghosted me and I didn’t get paid, those sorts of things. So once I learned how to navigate those sorts of difficulties.

[00:05:32.700] – Emily

And once I really decided to focus on I want to find higher paying clients and I’m worth it, where can I find those clients? How can I really expand? Is when things really started happening for me. It also helped. It took us about a year. The other reason there wasn’t so much pressure was it took us about a year to sell our house in Columbus, Ohio. But once we sold that house, then my income from freelancing became just like icing on the cake and was no longer like, how are we going to do this? I was clear on the fact that I wasn’t going back to the classroom that I was like, okay, I need to be able to make. My first goal was 50,000 in a year. And once I got there, I started giving myself a higher and higher income goal for the year. And my current goal, I still have not quite gotten there, is I want to outard my husband. All right. So that’s my ultimate goal. I’ve gotten close, but he’s very well paid.

[00:06:38.230] – Sean

Yes, he’s an engineer and he’s been in that space for some time. We’re talking offline about the companies where he works. So, yeah, Caterpillar, correct?

[00:06:50.160] – Emily

Yeah, he has worked at Caterpillar and he’s worked at Honda, prefer not to say where he works right now, but yeah, he’s a mechanical engineer. He is one of the few people in the country who can do what he is able to do. So the upside and downside of that. The upside is he’s always in demand and well paid. Downside is there’s only a few places in the country that needs him. So if he gets a new job, we move. Although I told him with this most recent move, the one that brought us to Milwaukee, I told him, Well, if you get another job, God speed, I’m staying here. I’m not moving again.

[00:07:25.410] – Sean

Sure. Fell in love with the city.

[00:07:28.950] – Emily

I get it.

[00:07:29.400] – Sean

Yes, yes. Long story short, we have a freelance writer here that’s going to exceed the salary of an engineer. Absolutely. You’re an entrepreneur. There’s no limitations. We may talk about a strategy and how to get you there a little bit, but this is good. I like breaking down people’s business models, and then we’ll get into some fun topics here, some of the topics you teach the people you talk to. But with your business model, is it strictly 100 % service-based? Do you do freelance writing or do you have some other, I’m thinking of, like a leveraged income product, like a course or something you sell on a website?