Before she was an entrepreneur, Katie Kenton worked nine to five as a dental assistant.
Today, she has what most would consider a dream job—she hangs out with dogs all day. Kenton’s inspiration for her aptly named at-home pet sitting, walking and grooming business, Katie’s Kennel, started when she’d watch her friends’ dogs when they were out of town. Her own German shepherd husky mix, Ghost, also played a huge factor in her decision to quit her job at a dentist’s office to start her business.
“When I’d travel, it would always break my heart to leave him somewhere or kennel him,” she says.
Katie’s Kennel’s sunny branding, active social media presence and strong sense of community and relationships has brought in hundreds of clients in its two-year run so far, including high-profile furry friends (eagle eyes will spot tags of @steel_silver_mahomes on their Instagram). And with the influx of animals adopted during the coronavirus pandemic, her business is bound to bring in more furry clients in the near future.
What was the biggest struggle in getting your business off the ground?
I think the hardest thing was just figuring out how to run a business. It’s very scary to quit your full-time job only to have the uncertainty of making any money. Figuring out how to build a clientele was probably the biggest hurdle I’ve had to overcome. I think what has made us so successful is having a big presence on social media.
What was it like building that social media following and brand distinction?
The brand has definitely grown over time. When I first started, I knew I wanted to utilize Instagram. I always say that a picture’s worth a thousand words. And when owners can see their dogs going on walks or having fun on a house sit, it kind of gives them that special feeling like their dog’s a celebrity. Our Instagram story is something we really try to hype up.
As far as my overall branding goes, it’s come a long way. When I first started, I had some business cards I made on Vistaprint that weren’t very pretty. I wanted to make my brand stand out. I would definitely recommend having someone in place to help with marketing and design—it’s definitely taken my brand to the next level.
What has been the biggest milestone of Katie’s Kennel so far?
I think probably our one-year mark last year. We had a little get-together and had such a great turnout with all of our clients. It just felt so rewarding. I just felt like, “Wow, we really made it.”
What brings you joy in your work?
It’s so fun to see a dog build confidence through a walk or a playdate. That’s the most rewarding thing to me. Everyone always says that I have the best job. I can’t lie, I really do. I get to hang out with dogs all day!
Katie’s Favorite Kansas City Things
The Peanut: I served there years back and it is still, to this day, one of my favorite restaurants in the Kansas City area. Of course the wings are wonderful, but you always see a friendly face
Bar K: I think Bar K has been so fun, especially for our little community. They have created something so very special and we’re lucky to be able to use their facility and work with them. Every Friday at Bar K is Frenchie Friday and a handful of our Frenchie clients show up.
Kansas City Chiefs: I mean, who doesn’t love the Chiefs? Especially after their Super Bowl win. That game was so, so exciting.