Jules Martins had a deadpan response when asked how long she’s groomed animals.
“I usually tell people I groomed for Noah on the ark,” she said.
Martins and Mary Kathryn Kent opened up All 4 Paws, a dog and cat bathing and grooming center, at 1467 Atwood Ave. in Johnston in January. Martins said, in reality, she’s been grooming since 1978.
“I just have always loved animals,” she said. “I think I started rescuing animals since I was 9 years old.”
Both Martins and Kent started showing their love for grooming at a young age. Kent, 21, started grooming with Martins at just 14 years old. They’ve been working together through multiple businesses, including Martins’ Village Paws in Greenville.
When the time came to open up another location, it was a no-brainer for Martins to ask Kent to join her.
“She’s young and has lots of energy, and I don’t,” Martins said with a laugh.
“Her first grooming shop was in Foster, and it was at the top of my road, and I used to walk up to the top of the road and go hang out there … I had horses and she had horses, too, so that’s just kind of how we met. And then she said, ‘Do you want a job?’ So I used to just walk to work every day,” Kent said.
Currently, the pair does double shifts between Village Paws and All 4 Paws, working mornings and afternoons at the former before coming over to the latter. That arduous schedule hasn’t hindered future plans, though. Martins said they will expand the business to add dog daycare in May.
“We’re going to specialize in small dogs right now, and then if the need arises we have available space to expand if we want to,” Martins said. “Right now we’re going to start small.”
Kent said they have received numerous calls inquiring about daycare, and Martins added that their service will be unique compared to others.
“A lot of them, the ones that are local, turn big dogs and little dogs out together and that makes a lot of dog owners feel uncomfortable,” Martins said. “So we’re going to specialize in the littles for right now and the seniors and just give the community what they want.”
Martins lauded Kent as “super organized” and business savvy. Kent already operates a wholesale jewelry company of her own, which succeeded to such a level that she was able to leave her 9-to-5 job at a law firm.
That was when she started to take on grooming full-time. It’s ironic, as Martins remembered Kent questioning years ago whether she wanted to make a life out of grooming.
“[She’s] the girl who said to me, ‘You know, I like grooming, but I don’t know if I want to make a career out of it. So now she owns a business,” Martins recalled.
“I started grooming every day and I think just as I got more experienced and everything I really did fall in love with it,” Kent said.
Their passion is born of a love for animals and desire to help the community. Whether it’s holding charity dog washes or offering discounts to seniors, the disabled and veterans, Kent said the two do “all that we can to give back to the community.”
“We’re both just passionate about animals,” Martins said. “We both ride horses, we live on farms. We love animals, we love animal people.”
Martins said she also plans to restart an initiative she ran at one of her former stores, the Kibble Closet. The program provides free dog and cat food and litter to owners who are experiencing financial difficulty and cannot feed their pets.
“We’re actually opening up [a] wall because there’s another 8-foot-by-32-foot space behind there and that’s probably where we’re going to use the storage,” Martins said, gesturing to the vacant left half of the building. “Most of our food is donated by the public and/or Pet Food Experts in Cumberland.”
While the packed schedules and daily travel remain the same, Martins said that every day is different at All 4 Paws.
“For us, it’s more about dog grooming. It’s just a community,” Martins said.