ScaleUp Success: Misty Gieczys of Designer Paws Salon

For the owner of a fast-growing business, learning to delegate responsibilities is a must. Misty Gieczys, owner and self-professed workaholic at the award-winning Designer Paws Salon in Westerville, said she’s realized the importance of stepping back from everyday operations as she looks at the big picture, which includes opening a second salon.

Opening Designer Paws Salon was a long-considered goal for Gieczys. At age 19 she made up her mind about starting her own business, and she spent the following 10 years preparing for that day.

After nixing her original idea of opening a Subway franchise, Gieczys started working as a dog trainer, and then a groomer at PetSmart. When she went to grooming school, a glance at one of their magazines cemented in Gieczys’ mind exactly what she wanted to do. There, on the cover, was a dog groomed to look like a dragon.

“I took it to my instructor and said ‘What is this, and can I do this?’” Gieczys said. “And she explained to me that that was creative grooming.”

A pivot spurred in her career’s trajectory, Gieczys entered full business preparation mode. She left PetSmart for a private company that supported her interest in creative grooming. She helped open a new store, learned how to hire and train groomers and trainers, and absorbed as much knowledge as possible on how to run a pet salon. After a decade of planning and acquiring all of the necessary experience and equipment, Gieczys finally opened Designer Paws on September 24, 2013.

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“Of course it was terrifying, because you don’t really have anything to fall back on,” Gieczys said. “It’s kind of all you.”

Since opening day, it really has been all Gieczys. The salon, holding more than 80 awards and a reputation for excellence, has grown by nearly 50 percent since last year. And, through the process of multi-tasking, Gieczys works enough to fill several full-time jobs.

Joining the Entrepreneur Exchange program was a move to sustain and assist the salon’s continuous growth. Through their program, she’s learned how to value her time. She handles payroll, HR, and social media, and makes sure each groomer and bather is booked for the week, all while competing in creative grooming contests all over the country.

“We’re getting pretty big, and I need to put more things in place so it can take stuff off my plate, so I can focus on opening that second location and more managing stuff, versus doing the everyday tasks,” Gieczys said. “So, learning how to do that is crucial in order to grow. If I can’t do that, I’m never gonna grow, because I’m going to be stuck in the shop doing every little task every single day and not be able to see the big picture and work on the big picture.”

As Designer Paws continues to grow, Gieczys is embracing her role as a business leader, training her office manager to run their current salon so she can focus on their second location. To help her along, she’s also engaged with the program’s network of fellow business owners to get answers and referrals for common entrepreneurial problems.

“I don’t know everything,” Gieczys said. “I want to talk to other businesses that are not in my field and learn from them. I never want to stop learning.”

For more information, visit

To take the next step in scaling up your business, visit to apply and learn more about the Entrepreneur Exchange Program, funded by SBA ScaleUp America.

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YMT Consultants is a microbusiness consulting and training firm providing monthly consulting and business development. We help microbusiness owners change their mindset, resulting in greater control of their business, increased revenue and bottom-line, and a strategic growth plan to achieve their “big-picture” vision for them and their business.