Tessa Nappi - Owner, Patter Paws Pet Company

Patter Paws Pet Company was born with the vision from Tessa Nappi of providing services for pets in the comfort of their home to allow for lowest level of stress for pets and the highest level of convenience for pet owners.

 

Troy: Good afternoon, everyone hope everyone is having a wonderful day. It is, middle of may, but already is starting to feel like the middle of the summer here in Austin last, last couple of days. But, as someone who's originally from the Midwest, I'm okay with it being hot instead of cold. So I can't complain. I definitely feel a feel better with that today. I am joined by Tessa nappy co-owner of patter paws, pets. How's it going today

Tessa: Sound good. Sound good. How are you

Troy: I'm doing well again, you know, again, beautiful, beautiful day and a little warm, but otherwise, things are going well. And so I got connected with Tessa a while back. I can't remember when we first connected through Facebook, but, some business or real estate related thing, but want to bring her back oxide saw she was, you know, kinda doing the entrepreneurial thing and sounded like kind of an interesting story, her love of pets and everything. So, again, appreciate you taking the time to jump on and do the, Austin's ballet with me. So I kind of always start each episode with trying to get a little bit about the guests origin stories. So, you know, one, so many people from Austin originally from here, so that's always kind of Where people are from and on the occasion that someone is from your originally, that's actually more interesting as well too, cause it's kind of a rarity. it feels like, so yeah, kind of tell you a little bit about your background. What kinda got brought you to Austin When did you kind of move where from

Tessa: Yeah, sure. So, I am born and raised in New York. I originally moved out here in 2017, and in September, so it'll almost be six years now. I was hired out here in Austin, at a veterinary clinic, called Austin's at care at central park. there were a clinic at the time, so they took care of like emergencies, but they also did general practice like Monday through Friday, like nine to five type things, but they always accepted walking. at that point I was in love with emergency medicine. So I was on our inpatient side of things. I was taking care of the hospitalized patients or the emergencies that came in that needed like critical care, and needed to be hospitalized. I was a vet tech for a couple of years, about three years before I moved out here. So it's been about nine years that I've been in the field. yeah. So,

Troy: So what, what obviously what got you into wanting to be a bit veterinary Obviously I'm assuming there was a love of animals and love of pets, in, in that regard, but what kind of sparked your interest in that field

Tessa: yeah, so I just, well, my passion was always be a veterinarian, not just the vet tech, with money in school debt and everything. And you know, a lot of life happenings never completed my degree, but, I just always had a passion for animals. I love, I fell in love with emergency medicine right before I moved out here. and I just want, I love just being on my toes, walking into work and just never knowing like the medical aspects of it. Like there's so much to learn so many different cases to see. and then, so I fell in love with emergency medicine and then I just, you know, being able to be that voice for animals when they're in pain and they're really sick and just being able to be like their advocate has always been like a huge passion of mine because, you know, they can't speak to us. It's hard to tell sometimes when your pet is sick or what's wrong with them because they're not going to tell you, oh, my leg hurts. You know, just being their advocate and I'm kind of nerdy in the sense where I love medicine, I love science. So that's kind of kinda mix the two, like my passion for animals and my love for medicine.

Troy: Nice. Yeah. And a lot of times animals actually do a good job intentionally of how to end me how's pets, maybe not quite so much, but right. Like especially wild animals, which all dogs and cats are kind of bred from, from that aspect. Like it was in it's in their best interest, not to show weakness and not to show because you know, that's gonna be something that gets attacked very aggressively out in the wild. And so they have to, so they're just naturally their instincts are to kind of hide it and not show that. And so it's one of those that can be, extra challenging. and you can't get across to them that, Hey, let us know about this early and we can make this better for you, or It's hard enough sometimes to get people to want to go into a doctor to do preventative medicine. So, for an animal that can, it's even more challenging that way.

What did you always have kind of a passion, you mentioned obviously having a passion for medicine, where did that kind of come from Was that because, you know, I feel like, I feel like on the medical side of things, like there's a lot of things that people kind of enjoy dabbling and really somebody might like working on their carpet. They don't want to become a mechanic in my, like doing some things here or there, but I feel like most people that I know who get into medicine, there's not, there's not really a whole lot of middle ground, like yes, the human body. And there's an interesting components to it. But like people who like to go into emergency medicine, whether it be a vet or into, you know, a regular hospital, like just somehow really love it to where most people don't like blood don't like to go or don't like all the stitches and stuff. And so it seems like they're kind of very opposite type of people. So what kind of, what drew in your passion or love for medicine

Tessa: I think just like the passion came from being with animals. I love animals. And I think that when I felt like I was like five, I was like, I want to be a vet. Like that is my calling. That's just what I meant to do. And just, I think that where it came from, it's just like my love for animals and how I feel as if animals are able to really they're like therapeutic for me. I have a certain type of relationship that I think that many people do have with animals, but there are certain people who have like a very, very close, bond to their animals when some people are like, well, this is just my dog, you know and for me, like my animals growing up and everything, like, they were just like my best friends. Like I leaned on them, I love them.

They brought me so much happiness. I was like, I can't live without them. And I was like, I want to be able, I guess it's just kind of how it, like I evolve. I was just like, how can I help him be around animals everyday, all day, you know, like forever. And I was like, I'm going to be a vet. and I think like my passengers comes from like, it's so hard to explain, like just that feeling that I get, like from my animals, like, there's just like my babies, you know, like there's, you know, and I understand, and I can value like for other people, like how important an animal is. Like, that's their family. That's not just to a lot of people, some animals are just animals, but to also just as many people, like animals are part of the family.

Troy: And I would say that even more and more that's the case. Like it, I mean, there definitely are uses where it's, you know, just kind of a family pet versus a member of the family per se. But, you know, even 10, 15 years ago, I would say it was probably flipped as far as the majority people having a family pet and they still loved and stuff, but it was the family pet versus the family per se. And now it seems like it's the reverse to where most people's pets are, their kids are there. I mean, it's, it's kinda crazy to, to some degree how much of a shift that it's been in that regard. And so obviously at that point, you have people that, you know, will do a lot for their pets because of all the joy and all the things that they brought to them, in their lives.

Tessa: I can speak on that working in emergency medicine. I mean, people will drop thousands and thousands of dollars on their animals, you know, and do everything possible to help them save them, to make them better. And lots of, lots of money. I mean, they're expensive. Animals are expensive. addition to family, that's for sure,

Troy: As a, as someone who has enjoyed being on the emergency bedside, how challenging is it I mean, obviously I'm assuming the majority of pets that you would see would be dogs or cats, but obviously there are a lot of other types of pets who might come in through the door that you're not necessarily expecting when you go into work that day. How challenging is that to have a wide variety of patient breeds, and different types of animals because obviously, you know, unlike going to the ER for a human, well yes, yes. The, or your injury may be different, but the anatomy of every human is basically the same. So like, if you know what the problem is, here's how to fix it, where the anatomy for animals, even getting different breeds of dogs, let alone dogs to snakes, to hamsters, to all those different things are definitely going to have some, some additional challenges that way. How big of a challenge or, you know, how, how much does that play a role in the, the emergency or veterans

Tessa: For me, it was pretty mild just cause I didn't work. Like there are certain hospitals that see exotic. So for us, like we didn't really see exotic. So if we had some, like we would refer them away to a veterinary emergency clinic that did seems that it, I will say that I have dealt with, you know, bunnies and squirrels. My favorite was with maybe Cub, but they'd been lying, that we had been hospitalized overnight. And it was just, I mean, that was like an experience you wouldn't get anywhere else. that was pretty cool. but for the most part, we didn't really handle many like pocket pets and stuff like that. we would refer them to exotic cause our doctors didn't see, any exotic like that, so

Troy: Sure again, right. Like just because it's definitely a completely different animal than,

Tessa: So you have your doctors that specialize in that, you know, I had worked at a clinic for a short period of time that saw birds and stuff like that. And it was, I mean, it's cool. It's definitely a learning curve. Cause there's like new things to learn about something. When you feel like you've mastered cats and dogs are like, oh, this is new. She was like something chat, you know, it's a new challenge, learn how to handle it, learn it dosing for drugs, how to provide me and it like something new, you know so I did have a little, I didn't dabbled in a couple of experiences like that over the years for sure.

Troy: Nice. And so then you, you know, so you were doing the emergency that tech for about nine years and then decided to transition over into owning your own, business.

Tessa: Yeah, mostly that's kind of how it went down. I had a bit of a back injury, and so I went on medical leave and at that point I wasn't paid. So, I was just, like doing my services for people in their homes and the meantime, as I was working, you know, doing chiropractic work and trying to like repair my back and everything. and I was just very happy. I felt like my quality of life was better. and so I had put my notice in my head less than just in my business. Full-time

Troy: Nice with emergency on the emergency vet side. I'm assuming it'd be the same kind of random, 24 hour on-call kind of stuff that you would have in the medical.

Tessa: We didn't have, we didn't have on-calls, I like the, our surgery team and stuff for stuff like that. but for me, like I was just working roughly about 50 hours a week. so for 12, and basically, you know, it's very strenuous at my first, like almost my first, like four years out here I was doing overnight work. and then the clinic I was at got purchased as corporate and we separated from that dual clinic. and I went over to our new clinic, which is right down the street of, on Guadalupe. and they did a specialty in emergency, so I stuck with the emergency because the other clinic was just strictly general practice. so I moved to that new clinic

Troy: We're in, were there many differences at all from going from New York to Texas as far as,

Tessa: yeah, the pace is a bit different obviously. So I feel like here in Texas was a little bit slower than New York, so that was a little bit of adjustment as far as like in the workforce. and just, I mean, I think that was like the biggest difference, you know other than that, you know, everyone, I guess the other big difference would be like out here. When I, when I started working out here, everybody was just so friendly and New York is a little rough around the edges, you know So like people treat you a lot, a lot less friendly with a lot less respect, whereas out here, you know, everyone was just so welcoming and so friendly and, that can be hard going into a new in the medical field. You know, there's a lot of cutthroat attitudes and stuff like that. And so, but out here everyone was just so friendly and welcoming, which is really nice.

Troy: Yeah. I feel like in Texas a pet's like an invitation to come up and say hi, most of the time, or at least say hi to someone's pet. not all the time, but like in a lot of cases where obviously in, in New York, you know, people tend to be, you know, doing that, you do your thing and everyone kind of leaves each other alone and, not, you know, more standoffish, I guess, maybe where to put it. And so which can come off as rude. I don't know that it necessarily always is that way, but it definitely is a different kind of culture vibe. and then for me personally, I've always kind of felt like one of the reasons, at least Austin specifically as well too, is it seems more inviting. Is that again, there's so many people like yourself, like myself who have had to relocate.

And so there's just more, there's the, there's a mindset of people of knowing that you were new at one point in time and you enjoy it. You know, like just getting to know new people is kind of part of that. Hey, if you were willing to travel across country to someplace you're not familiar with, Hey, then you go and kind of being a little bit more outgoing is kind of something that you have to be willing to do to kind of get, become a part of the community. And so I think because there's just all of those people from all different parts of the country, it kind of leads just to that being a little bit different vibe than again, in New York where nothing there, people that moved there, but it feels like a lot of people that are there have grown up there and maybe lived in that area for a couple of generations.

Tessa: Right, right. Yeah. Definitely a very different culture.

Troy: Well, and you mentioned was the, it's like the, the pace of stuff, obviously a little bit different, which I think most people understand even like the pace, at work and stuff like that was different or just the pace of life of needing to always be on the go or, or both,

Tessa: I would say like the actual work was slower. and I learned to like become more patient by living out here. but yeah, like actual working and moving and getting things done was a little bit more chilled and relaxed than what I was used to. but I mean, definitely not a bad thing because in medicine it's probably always better to take your time than not for sure.

Troy: And I think part of that also comes from, and are you ever seen it now as real estate prices are increasing here is like for a business that just recently got a lease where the rent's gone up 50% in the last two years, they have to do a lot more business to make that lease and that lease on that rent pay off. And so again, same thing from a vet standpoint, right Like if you're a vet in New York city and you're paying New York city real estate prices and rent prices, like you've got to get a lot of work done in order to kind of make that a Profitable business where again, if you come coming, if you're here in Austin, even though obviously prices and real estate has gone up quite a bit, they're still nowhere near New York prices. And so you don't have to necessarily go and get as many procedures done or as many as much sales done in order to kind of have a festival practice or business that way.

Tessa: Right. Right.

Troy: So, so with your business pattern, paws, pets, fun, alliteration there to try to, you know, trip up. so you started off kind of as more of a necessity with you getting injured, that way, what kinds of things do, does your company provide the pet community here in Austin

Tessa: Yeah. so when I first started off, I, and then I've had my business actually, since I was in living in New York, I just like, I branded myself like all the Facebook page and all that, but due to working in the field, I just never had time to do this full time. So I would just pets it and I would just do, different services on the side, for extra additional income. and so I had my business, I just hadn't been able to like run, run with it. I'm a hundred percent full time. so when I started off, it was a lot of pet sitting. I had a couple of clients, I was doing subcutaneous fluids for their animals that were in kidney failure. Something like your typical person wouldn't know how to do unless you're trained to like give as a technician.

I have clients that I do simple injections for a monthly allergy injections vaccines because they're too frightened at the vet and they're a better can be at home. I don't provide vaccines. Of course the vet, if they're comfortable with a long-term client will provide it with their client and then I'll just hop up in, do little poke and we're done. and then it kind of started off like that kind of stuff like pet-sitting and medication and administrating stuff like that before I went full time. and then I started to groom that became a huge, there's a huge demand for it. and so I kind of learned as I go self-taught. and so I started grooming. I also took on training cause I've always loved training animals. I've trained a handful of my own, like my own dog and friend's dogs.

So I kinda just ventured into that. And one of the services I offer that I love the most because like, you know, your animals live a long period of time. Like you want to enjoy them and you don't want to be frustrated with them all the time. and there's a lot too, there's a lot of training and there's a lot of very easy, quick fixes to different behavior. So I'll do basic obedience training and also like the hate real training, barking, jumping, aggression, those kinds of things. But also just basic things. Like sometimes I have puppies that I trained sit, stay down, all that fun stuff, leave it and all that good stuff. and then pet sitting, of course, at this point I only offer it, but sending like in south Austin in my area, obviously with gas prices and like people usually want their pets checked on two, three times a day and that's only really possible if they're local to me.

I do offer pet-sitting, up north. but it is my partner, one of my other, I have two, veterinary technicians, but don't per se like work for me, but I kind of outsource, any inquiries to them. up north I have somebody near Cedar park and then I also have someone like, domain area, so that's not off limits. and then other small things like people need individual room services, like nail trims, ear cleaning. Some people just want like, you know, the dog's paws, it's just individual services. But I would say at this point, my business, majority of increased leggings for grooming,

Troy: No. Have the services and stuff kind of evolved based on what people start asking for, or was it something where you always, when you wanted to always offer kind of all these different types of things

Tessa: I always, yeah. I wanted to learn how to groom, and offer that service. It's kind of like, almost like for me, I'm a very creative person. I'm a veryhands-on like, I'm not artsy, but I'm like creative. So for me, I always wanted to learn it cause it's like you get to kind of individualize things and be creative when you do it. so that was something I always like, kind of wanted to bring into my business. and eventually I started off, and it just, you know, there's such a high demand like groomers usually have, are booked out months and months, you know and then the thing that makes my business unique is that there's a lot of dogs that are too anxious to, you know, go to grooming salons or even be in a mobile van. And then you have a lot of dolls that are aggressive that just do so much better at home.

I have a handful of dogs who are, I have clients who have dogs with in heart failure who can't be like heavily stimulated because they can have a sinkable episode where they'll they'll spank, or even worse of course, cause you know, they're in heart failure, like older, I have older dogs who can't stand, which groomers will turn away. but I'm able to kind of cater to those people that who groomers can be very particular in who they do and don't want to service because there's such a high demand, plenty of options. but me as a small business owner, you know, like I don't have a limited options and I also have a lot of experience like dealing with, you know, dogs that can't walk and elderly heart failure goals. And so I think brings it a little bit comfort in itself that I have that experience and I know like would know what to do in a situation like that. and whatnot.

Troy: Yeah. And it sounds like it's probably something that you kind of enjoy being able to provide as well too, because it's something that's not something that the average groomer provides.

Tessa: Yeah. And I mean like these animals need to be groomed as part of their quality of life and feeling good. And so like if no one's going to do it, you know, like I can take pride and say like, I'll do it. You know what I mean And I've even like helped people out who don't have a ton of money, you know what I mean Like I'm not here to turn me away and say, oh no, I won't work with you financially. Like, you know, within reason of course, you know, I have to consider like my time and my gas and so forth, but like at the same point, like these animals, like they don't have a voice, you know what I mean Like, and being clean and groomed and not mad at it. And that, that fourth, like that kind of stuff, like that's part of their quality of life, you know

Troy: Sure. Now, unfortunately I'm sure you have to pay bills as well too. So it's one of those where there'd be a lot of things it'd be kind of nice to be able to work for free from time to time. But it's like, well, unfortunately, everyone else won't let me live my life for free. So it's not An easy thing to do that. So, so what are kind of some of the goals and plans for the business going forward Obviously you mentioned that, you kind of have almost sounds like they're more like referral partners for other parts of the city and stuff too. You plan to just continue to grow, focus mostly around the grooming side of things or, any,

Tessa: I personally would like to continue to grow. I would like it like to get to a point where I can hire somebody to do the grooming. not that I dislike it, it's just, it's hard on my back still. and I have other, some other plans I am hoping to in about June or July, I'm hoping to launch a new service where I offer like start to finish party planning for dogs, birthday, where like you kind of just pick a place and I essentially plan now create the invitation, set up, clean up, or he just show up with your friends and your dogs. And, I'm working on the business plan now kind of just like what type of packages I want to offer and what they're going to include and all that good stuff. So I'm hoping to like, of get that ball rolling by like June or July.

And kind of, I would love to get to a point where I can pull away from grooming and hire somebody to do that part and then focus on that. And then I'm also hoping to launch like my own homemade, pet treats and then kind of evolve into like, you know, pet treats with purpose, like CBD treats, dental treats, stuff like that. so those are kind of my goals moving forward. but you know, I'm still wanting to offer all my services the way I do. And I think having most of pretty much all of my friends are at tech. So having that is really nice because, you know, I think that makes people more comfortable when they have somebody watching their pets, especially if they have past medical issues or thinking medications. I have clients who that Kappa needs know insulin injections twice a day and stuff like that.

And so, that kinda, you know, and every technician I know knows how to just CPR, stuff like that. So I kind of use people with pet sitting and just even when green, when you're grooming there's times where I've, Hey, your dog has a mask like our lump I'm concerned about. Or, I didn't eat a winter session and I found a polyp on the dog and I was just like, Hey, you should probably get this checked out. You know, like, just like those types of things that like maybe your average consumer would be like, oh, that's where, you know, but like I'm able to kind of gauge like, is this important, you know, stuff like that.

Troy: Yeah. You have the, you have the experience, not the necessarily diagnose it, but you have the experience to know, Hey, this is something that you should definitely go get checked out or get more information about versus I'm just thinking this is something that's normal or

Tessa: Right.

Troy: Yeah. Or yeah. Or not realizing it that's, you know, if I was grooming a dog, I just wouldn't even realize that that's was, it was a thing at all. All

Tessa: Right.

Troy: So, what are some of the best ways that people can get in touch if they have more interest in either the grooming services or any of the other things that you offer

Tessa: Yeah. So Facebook is a huge platform for me. obviously when I started my business off, I didn't have a website. I do at this point, I have a website, but my website is like, I'm kind of reconstructing it at the moment. but once it is back up and running, it'll just be powerball@petco.com. but Facebook is really my biggest platform. I do have an Instagram, I don't seem to get a lot of business from Instagram, but I kind of just, I like to post like grooming pictures and stuff. A lot of clients are like, Hey, do you have any pictures of, you know, doodles you've done or Malteses, you've done. And I'll just kind of send them to my Instagram. so I just kind of post my clients there and I like to show happy animals at home comfortable, like during the grooming or when their parents are out of town, stuff like that.

And just kind of, you know, obviously the whole purpose of my business is for it to be low stress for pets to be comfortable in their own environment. and it's also convenient for owners and just for owners also to feel comfortable as well, be able to like watch or sit by, you know, a lot of my, a lot of my regular clients, my owners, like they're working from home. So they're like another room and I'm just grooming. But like a lot of owners are like, you know, like I think my dog has been traumatized at the groomer, which is very possible. I'm like, you're welcome to stay in here and watch and you can chat and, you know, you can give your pet treats and pet, pet your pet, whatever you want to do, you know but I think as far as my platforms go, I think Facebook is probably my best way to reach me.

Troy: Yeah. Very nice. Yeah. I wouldn't have necessarily thought, but I'm sure there are some pets that, you know, again, just the way people don't like going to the dentist that some pets don't like go into the groomers and so this way, having it in their own home and having their owner to be able to be there, if they need to can probably be reassuring.

Tessa: Yes, I think so.

Troy: Very nice. Well, I really appreciate you taking the time to jump on the Austin spotlight and chatting about it again. It's, it's always interesting to hear just all the different types of businesses and business owners we have here in, in Austin, Texas, and, and their stories because each one's unique and a lot of the businesses are super interesting. So I really appreciate you taking the time.

Tessa: Thank you so much.

Troy: Hope everyone out there has a wonderful day.

Tessa: Bye.

 

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