SelectOFALLON Business Spotlight: Yuppy Puppy Pet Spa
Yuppy Puppy Pet Spa owner Jessica Cooke has worked herself to the bone– dog bone that is. Over the past 20 years, Jessica transformed her boarding and grooming facility into an award-winning home away from home for our furry K-9 friends.
While working as a pet groomer in 2003, Jessica realized there was so much more that she can do for herself and her growing family. She knew that starting her own business would give her the freedom and creativity to work and enjoy life on her terms. The City of O’Fallon was the perfect match for her first business location and three months later, celebrated the grand opening of Yuppy Puppy Pet Spa. Once open, Jessica’s next step was to connect with the O’Fallon Chamber of Commerce and city business development staff, who were great allies from the start.
“I immediately loved everything about O’Fallon, and I know I can call the city or chamber if I have a question on anything,” says Jessica. “They are supportive advocates for business owners like me.”
In 2007 when the Great Recession hit and hundreds of businesses closed, Yuppy Puppy’s business was thriving. What was Jessica’s recipe for success? Listening to her clients. When asked about expanding her services to include overnight boarding for their beloved pets, Jessica knew exactly what to do. She contacted city staff for guidance and worked quickly through the business expansion approval process. Yuppy Puppy successfully tripled in size and received so much attention that they were featured in Small Business Monthly.
“The City of O’Fallon listened to why this change was beneficial to my business and they helped make it happen,” says Jessica.
A few years later, when lease rates started increasing, Jessica began to contemplate owning a full-service boutique grooming, boarding, training and daycare facility. She talked over the plan with city staff and worked with Paul McKee, one of O’Fallon’s top real estate developers, to find the perfect spot to build her dream facility. Just over one year later, everyone involved helped celebrate the grand opening of Jessica’s full-service pet destination. It did not take long before Yuppy Puppy Pet Spa was at capacity year-round, and Jessica added a smaller second location to keep up with client demand.
When the recent pandemic caused everyone to pivot, the city staff made sure businesses, including Yuppy Puppy Pet Spa, had proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to navigate the challenges of COVID-19 safely. Jessica and her staff continued to safely care for their clients’ pets, including those owned by nurses and first responders. At the same time, Jessica launched Yuppy Puppies Forever, a nonprofit rescue for dogs whose owners could no longer care for them. Since its launch, Jessica’s nonprofit has provided loving homes for over 1,600 rescue dogs.
Jessica’s experience and achievements have become a model for other small business owners. When asked what advice she would give to other businesses, Jessica knew her answer immediately: “You really must listen to the community and your customers. Anytime we’ve offered a new service, it’s because our clients have asked for it.”
The success of Jessica and Yuppy Puppy is now attracting national attention including being named America’s Coolest Owner by PETS+ Magazine in 2021 and Best Pet Groomer by the St. Louis Business Journal in 2023. In May 2023, Jessica was named by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) as the Eastern Missouri District’s Small Business Person of the Year.
Today, Jessica and her husband enjoy living in their 17-acre home with their three children, six dogs, five horses, two donkeys, ducks and chickens. When she’s not dreaming big about how to grow her business, Jessica is making plans to add cows, sheep and goats to the family next year.