Women’s History Month is very important to me. not only because I am one of the squirrliest of pisces but also because I am a woman! Duh! So, for the remainder of this month, I want to put the spotlight on a few girl bosses that really inspire me.
Sophie Phillips owns a pet shop on 53rd street called Sprocket & Stone: A Paw Shop, that specializes in natural dog and cat cuisine, healthy treats and cool toys, gear and fun accessories.
I happened upon her small shop one day by happy accident as I walked past it on my way to the deli next door. I am always eager to shop local and pet shops are basically cap nip to me! S. & S. has all the products I love like Fromm Family Foods brand for food and Fruitables for treats but her selection of natural bones and chews is also very impressive. Honestly, I have never seen a kneecap before!!
Q: You have such a knowledge of animals, their behavior, health and dietary needs. Did you ever attend vet school?
A: I actually have no professional background as far as study or work or anything like that. I worked in the hospitality business most of my life. I grew up in the restaurant business, my family, we are small business owners mostly in the food industry. It was always something I felt like I could take with me. When I first moved to New York I got a job in hospitality and when I came to Chicago as well.
Q: How did you get your start working with animals?
A: The building where my husband worked at the time had a lot of pets and residents that trusted him began asking us to watch the cat or walk the dog. I have always loved animals and always had pets so I started thinking how I could combine my love for pets and make a living. So I started a pet care company.
Q: What kind of services did you offer?
A: Mainly cat sitting, dog walking. The company grew very well but it was a little too much for one person. My goal was to hire people to grow the company but along the way I got very close with my customers and their pets and they started trusting me with little pet issues here and there. Because I also have pets with health issues (allergies and sensitive stomach), I did a lot of research and work on my own for my pets. I had some knowledge that helped customers. One day a customer suggested to me I open my own pet store and I just started laughing. I had no knowledge of opening a brick and mortar. I was looking at crazy overhead, rental fees etc. etc…
Q: What changed your mind?
A: In December of 2014, I was working my restaurant job and walking dogs and one day it was so cold and it snowed all day and I just thought to myself, you know what I am just going to do it. That’s how it all started.
I found the location. There was another space I was considering but when I walked in here I just knew this was it. Then I started reaching out to distributors and food lines and figuring out my concept and what I am trying to provide.
Q: What do you see for the future of Sprocket and Stone?
A: I am pretty happy with this location. We haven’t reached our maximum potential here and there is still a lot of room to grow. If I expand or move into another location I want to make sure I am doing it right. Because once you start offering things like grooming you get into another area of the business because you have to get different insurances, you have to pick a groomer that is not only kind toward the animals but has talent and will grow with the company and not leave after six months. There is just so much more to consider. So only if a perfect opportunity presented itself. But right now I am pretty content here.
Q: What are some of the challenges and rewards of being a small business owner in hyde park?
A: I haven’t found it to be too challenging, except not really having personel time for myself or my family, but I have just gotten very lucky and fortunate that everything kind if put itself into play. I didn’t have to do too much hard work to get us up and running. But I am not ready to hire anyone so I work six days a week and on top of opening hours there are a lot of responsibilities before and after like putting in my orders, researching products and doing deliveries.
The freedom of having time for myself to take a vacation with my family is not there yet but the reward is amazing. You get up everyday and you come to work on your own business. You put the key in a door of your own business. You have customers that are here to buy something but end up staying 30, 40 minutes to chit chat. We have become a destination for many of our customers. It’s my neighborhood too so its awesome to be able to serve the people I am surrounded by.
My son goes to Ray and I know a lot of the parents that come to my store. It’s just really awesome to open my doors to the community. Not just a shopping destination but somewhere people enjoy coming to and meeting other people, talking to each other. It’s extremely rewarding.
Q: Are there any new pet care trends on the horizon?
A: There is a new trend in CBD, which are cannabis oil edibles for pets most are derived from organic hemp. They are cannabis derived products without the THC so it doesn’t make your pets high or anything. It’s making its way into different treats and oils, which can be beneficial for pets that suffer from anxiety, fear, arthritic pain, seizures.
Q: Is there anything else you would like readers to know?
A: If you have an idea and your are motivated and you believe in it just go for it. The challenges are much lower than the rewards you get from doing your own thing and working for yourself.
Spoken like a true boss 🙂
Sprocket and Stone is located at 1013 E. 53rd Street in Chicago, IL 60615 you can reach them at 773. 966. 4777