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InstaGroom Mobile Business

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  • InstaGroom Mobile Business

    Though her dog-centered business is brand new, Marie Maguire’s love of “man’s best friend” goes back decades.

    A yellow Labrador retriever, ‘Sammy,’ arrived in the Maguire family’s home on the north side of Dublin, Ireland when she was 13.

    Sammy was “a perfect yellow ball of love and licks” who would “talk” with Maguire and her four siblings on the phone when they were away from home,” Maguire, 43, a Stamford resident, recalled on a recent afternoon.

    Maguire and her brothers and sisters—Susan, Patrick, Ciaran and Roisin—considered Sammy a “fifth sibling,” she said.

    Though the beloved yellow Lab has passed, Maguire’s abiding love and respect for dogs has endured, and after eight years of laying the groundwork—with a few detours along the way— she’s recently launched her own mobile dog grooming business.

    InstaGroom—here on Facebook and here on Instagram—serves clients in New Canaan, Stamford, Darien, Greenwich, and Norwalk.

    The new business marks a sharp career change for Maguire, who in 15 years since moving to the United States has worked in restaurants. Most recently, Maguire has been serving as general manager of Napa & Co in downtown Stamford for the past nine years.

    InstaGroom owner Marie Maguire with pug clients Lola and Rosie Valente of New Canaan.
    For her, adding dog groomer to her resume is a natural progression.

    “Knowing what a person wants, and managing and delivering their expectations is key in any service industry,” she said. “Restaurants teach you to roll with the punches, manage the unexpected, and you get to meet lots of fun and interesting people. It’s not boring and every day is a little bit different than the last. I feel all those characteristics pertain to the dog grooming business. Don’t get me wrong, I have had some difficult customers, but some dogs can be grouchy as well, so I feel I am prepared for what they might throw at me.”

    Wilbur Dinan baptized the InstaGroom truck before he passed unexpectedly.

    In addition to growing up with pets and graduating from dog grooming school in 2003, Maguire has gotten plenty of practice at nurturing dogs by caring for her own brood. She and her husband of 13 years—New Canaanite editor Michael Dinan—have opened up their home in Stamford to five dogs, though they’re still mourning the recent loss of their oldest dog, a golden retriever named Wilbur.

    “Wilbur is a big part of the reason I am such a huge dog lover,” Maguire said. “He was the perfect dog—sweet, fun, obedient, trusting, lovable. [He] was everything you want in a dog and then some. I can’t mention his name yet without welling up. That’s how special he was and still is to us.”

    He also “baptized” the converted $75,000 Dodge truck where all of Maguire’s dog grooming is done by serving as its first “client” in August, days after its delivery.

    The truck will serve all breeds and includes a generator on-board, stainless steel tub, extend-able table, two 50-gallon water tanks, pumps, laundry shoot, interior lighting and electrical fittings for an array of electric razors and blowdryers, as well as shelving for scissors, brushes, shampoos and other accessories.

    Its logo was designed by New Canaan-based Nurenu and since it arrived, Maguire has worked her full-time job while building a base of grooming clients in her off-hours and days.

    A large portion of those clients are based in New Canaan, where Maguire also has joined the Chamber of Commerce.

    The chamber’s Laura Budd said the organization is “excited to welcome InstaGroom” to town.

    “New Canaan loves its dogs and demand for her services will be high,” Budd said. “We are confident that Marie will be successful based on her professionalism and her incredible love of animals.”

    After researching ways to launch her own enterprise, Maguire turned to local business owners for advice, including her husband, a journalist who launched in January 2014, and Stamford-based WAGS (Wash and Groom Spa) owner Janine McCormick.

    McCormick called Maguire “the type of person that within five minutes of meeting her, you instantly like her,”

    “She has an upbeat, positive energy about her that is contagious. This energy carries through with her love of dogs, which is a vital quality in dog grooming. Dogs need to have a bond with their groomer and develop trust in them. Otherwise, their grooming experience will not be a pleasant one. Marie’s patience and calm ways make dogs feel comfortable and along with that comes the bond and the trust.”

    For Maguire, trust also is the key to building a rapport with anyone who serves a person’s pet.

    “I want to know when anyone is dealing with my dog in any capacity—vet, groomer, dog walker, friend or family [member]— that they are caring, compassionate, and are treating my dog like their own,” she said. “I treat every dog like they’re one of my own—it’s all about the dog.”

    Or in her case, all about a house full of dogs.

    Just 18 months after Maguire and her husband brought Wilbur to their downtown apartment in 2005, they welcomed his brother, Russell.

    And after buying a house in Stamford in 2009, they adopted Louis, Marvin and Dexter. According to Maguire, Russell’s temperament is very similar to his late brother and he “only wants to fetch and please, in that order,” while Louis is the “mama’s boy,” Marvin is an “adorable terror,” and Dexter loves to cuddle.

    To Maguire, most dogs are “pure love bugs”—a philosophy that she wants to extend to all of her clients.

    One of InstaGroom’s first clients is an Australian Labradoodle named Yoda, although his owner Elissa Stein said he “looks more like Chewbacca.”

    The InstaGroom mobile dog grooming truck, with logos designed by New Canaan-based Nurenu. Credit: Marie Maguire
    The InstaGroom mobile dog grooming truck, with logos designed by New Canaan-based Nurenu. Credit: Marie Maguire
    He’s 18 months old, weighs 50 pounds, and is training to become a therapy dog. Yoda’s most recent appointment with InstaGroom took place outside of Stein’s office in Stamford.

    “Yoda is very comfortable with [Marie] and happily goes off with her,” said Stein, founder and director of The Riverwalk Group, a mental health team in Stamford. “I find that Marie’s personality really puts both Yoda and me at ease and it is very evident that she loves dogs and this work. She’s great about getting back to me and reports any concerns to me she might have. At the last appointment, she found a tick on Yoda and passed along that info so I could follow up with my vet.”

    Currently, Maguire is wearing both hats as a restaurant manager and a dog groomer, but said that despite her grueling schedule, she’s loving the new work.

    “I get to work with dogs every day, meet fellow dog lovers, which is the instant connection we share no matter who they are or where they are from,” she said. “I know it takes a lot for me to trust someone with my dogs, so I appreciate the trust these people place in me to take good care of their four-legged children. I love seeing how excited the dogs are once they are finished and they get to preen for their parents. It’s fun and rewarding at the same time.”

    Even though InstaGroom is already up and running, Maguire said that being able to turn her passion into a career still seems “a little surreal,” but well worth the wait, and she encourages others to take that leap.

    “If dogs are your passion then go for it,” she said. “It can be physically demanding. You are on your feet for long hours, you get wet a lot and maybe even bitten, but if you love working with dogs, then there is no better job.”

    InstaGroom offers its services Monday through Saturday by appointment only. Call Marie Maguire at 203-885-2975 or see the company’s Facebook page (here on InstaGram) for more information.
    Coordinators post updates to the message for grooming events, members contests, Classified Ads, GroomerTALK Radio shows and Magazine online.