“You know, Laurren, there are other ways you can serve and work with animals without being a vet,” said Professor Tom Hennigan, associate biology professor for Truett McConnell University’s (TMU) Pilgram Marpeck School of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). He was speaking to a young woman who was determined to become a veterinarian. This was the beginning of a different path God would have for Laurren Segraves, a 2015 alum of TMU.
A New Life in Christ
Having grown up in the small town of Cleveland, Segraves wanted to explore life outside White County. “I was going to study pre-veterinary medicine,” she said. “I wanted to specialize in small animal surgery. I knew exactly what I wanted to do and had everything planned out.”
Within a few short months at TMU, she accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior, which completely changed her life for the better.
A New Path
Hennigan’s words of wisdom and the advice from family, friends, and other TMU faculty caused the college student to pray and allow God to help her determine her goals and plans. When speaking with a local veterinarian, who was her supervisor at the time, she was encouraged to learn more about business. He said, “There are some people who are awesome vets but are terrible business people.”
Because of this advice, Segraves earned a BA in Business Administration in 2016.
Not only did her career path change during her time at Truett McConnell, but Laurren also met her now husband, Chantz. She fondly remembered how she met him, saying, “My best friend was dating his best friend. We got married in my senior year and bought a house.”
Her newlywed years were a little stressful as she began her job in the tax field. When her first tax season hit, Segraves had a frightening moment of realization: “I cannot do this for the rest of my life.”
Nacoochee Poochie Opens
Laurren’s mother had spent several years showing poodles in dog shows. Growing up around dogs taught Segraves to groom dogs. She thought to herself,
“Let me just see if there is a market for me to start grooming as a profession.” And was there ever! Segraves said, “I pursued my county and state licenses, and we opened the grooming business in Cleveland. I was grooming dogs during the evenings and weekends while trying to manage my regular job. In the first week, it absolutely blew up. I made more money grooming than working two weeks with taxes and overtime at my regular job.”
She named the new business Nacoochee Poochie, which expanded exponentially. Shortly thereafter her side-job became her full-time job.
Segraves said, “Nacoochee Poochie is a place for grooming and boarding, and it has a boutique. The business is unique because it is an upscale environment that caters to our customers and minimizes the amount of stress placed on the pet. We were the first American Kennel Club (AKC) certified S.A.F.E salon in the state.” Even now, there is only one other AKC-certified salon in Georgia.
Growth and Expansion
The business has grown tremendously in the two years since its opening, starting with just around 150 clients. “We are now at over 1,300 clients, and a lot of them have two, three, or four pets,” Segraves explained.
In fact, the company has grown so much that it had to move from its first commercial building into one that was more efficient and built more appropriately for a grooming salon.
In addition to running the business, Segraves professionally shows poodles. She enjoys managing the business as well as traveling associated with dog shows.
“My primary goal is to continue growing, hiring more staff, and taking on more clients,” she said. Only time will tell what other adventures the Segraves will get to experience as Nacoochee Poochie continues to expand.
Jordan Haney is a 2018 TMU Graduate and Communications Intern.
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