From fearing dogs to grooming them, Michelle Brice has come full circle with her business Luxury Pet Spa & Boutique in New Hyde Park.
Before opening Luxury Pet Spa, Brice was a bartender trying to find a career she could be more proud of. Brice also worked for a pet salon where she first got experience with animals. It was the pet shop’s owner who forced her to conquer her hesitation about working with dogs and sparked an interest that ultimately led to Luxury Pet Spa’s existence.
“I was initially afraid of dogs at first, so I did a lot of my work from far away,” Brice said in an interview. “One day, the owner came in and pushed me into the dog and it actually helped me. It taught me that I couldn’t operate like that.”
After bartending, Brice took her life savings to open a luxury pet salon but was met with some obstacles. After conflicts with her new space that forced her to relocate, Brice was given financial aid by community members, some of whom also offered their time to volunteer, to start fresh.
Brice then found a home for Luxury Pet Spa, which has been at the 1209 Jericho Turnpike for more than a decade. Brice said she prides herself on staying up to date on the trends in the grooming industry by attending expos, learning from others with more experience, and completing certifications.
Brice and her one other groomer will do routine care and cleansing of dogs, cats, rabbits and even guinea pigs. Along with traditional services, the “luxury work,” Brice said, includes shaving, styling and coloring the animal’s fur. Regardless of the task, Brice said, the animal’s well-being and comfort level remain the priority.
“We like to create and put a unique style for the pets we see,” Brice said. “When it comes down to everything, we only do what is acceptable and comfortable for the pet and their owner.”
Brice touted the importance of maintaining a healthy and clean pet and said owners should allocate around $100 every two months to maintain their pet’s hygiene.
Despite the difficulties caused by the pandemic, Brice noted, her business was able to offer a specialty dog food now featured on DoorDash to be delivered to clients’ homes. Brice said she also hopes for the business’ mobile service to take off in the coming months so she can meet her clients in the comfort of their own homes.
“I want my clients to know that they are an extension of my family,” Brice said. “They are choosing to come to a salon run by a mixed woman and a single mother of two well-respected young men. My relationship with the pets and their owners is of the utmost importance to me.”