Today we’d like to introduce you to Kathey Garrett.
Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
The concept for Wagnolia Bells started at my daughter’s wedding in May 2019. She had her dog, Archie, at her wedding and unfortunately, it rained that day.
We had no one to look after Archie while at the venue, so he was bounced from family member to family member and had to sit in our cars, getting them quite wet. I realized that I truly needed someone to assist me in caring for Archie that day.
As a retired military spouse, I’ve had to shift, readjust, and adapt to new situations.
I’d been employed by Talbots for several years in various locations, so I knew well the importance of customer service and employee management. At my husband’s last duty station in 2013-2016, I worked with a great mentor at a vineyard where she showed me how to appreciate not only your employees but also to value your customers.
She also was a great events coordinator, keeping things simple but well planned. After taking business and marketing classes, getting Pet CPR certified, and acquiring all licensing, Wagnolia Bells began in FEB of 2020 – right as Covid hit.
I knew that I wanted to do three things with Wagnolia Bells: 1. Assist others by including Pets on their wedding day, offering my clients a fun, memorable, and worry-free experience; 2. Focus on providing exceptional customer service; and 3. Give back in some small way: We donate 10% of each total package to a nonprofit shelter of our client’s choice.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has not been a smooth road! We officially announced our service opening in FEB of 2020. Covid hit a couple of weeks later and the entire wedding industry literally shut down.
I stayed true to my mission in that I wanted to focus on assisting clients including Pets in Weddings. I had lived the stress of not having that ONE important vendor to care for our pet, after all!
I began a social media campaign on Instagram, and since I couldn’t physically visit venues and vendors in person, I contacted them by email and phone calls to introduce myself.
Some were very open, friendly, and receptive while others, unfortunately, literally laughed at me and said, “Good luck with that!” I laughed along with them, but I knew in my heart that the people who would reach me would be the ones who consider their pets as their family, as we do.
Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I am a teacher first! I have a Master’s in ED/ENG, and I taught English at the Jr. College level for several years. Then, as we moved throughout my husband’s military career, I started working at Talbot’s, a retail women’s clothing store. I have to be honest and say that my favorite and very last job as a mil spouse was at a vineyard in Crozet, VA.
I assisted in the tasting room and shadowed my mentor/manager as she planned numerous events. As a mil spouse I held various board positions at the many duty stations along the way: membership chair, philanthropy (fundraising), and social (events/planning).
I also was the go-to dog sitter, and I acquired the love of fostering for local shelters. I think that all of these combined jobs and experiences have led me to where I am now: a female business owner! I certainly learned that my ideal career wasn’t linear; instead, it was quite angular, meaning that there were many shifts and turns.
Adaptability and continuing to learn have been key for me.
So maybe we end by discussing what matters most to you and why?
My faith, my family, and how others are treated matter greatly to me.
Without my faith, I am and I have nothing. My family members are my biggest supporters.
Respect for others goes a long way! We can learn so much by listening to others, sharing just enough without being overbearing, and respecting that we have the freedom to treat others with dignity, no matter the circumstances.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: https://wagnoliabells.com/about
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wagnoliabells/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WagnoliaBells
SamSlay Photography, Taylor Square Weddings, Camille Leigh Photography, Dominique & Xavier Wiggins, Whitney Daniels Photography, Michelle Evans, Kate Anthony Photography, and Hollye Workman Photography