Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, as many as 800 businesses across the nation have closed every day, according to a study conducted by Yelp. Despite these circumstances, one Selah woman recently decided to pursue her goal of owning a business.

On Feb. 16, Jazmyne Schmidt opened her dog grooming business, Diamond in the Ruff, at 11 N. First St. in Selah. In spite of the struggles faced by many small businesses, Schmidt feels that her new venture will not only survive these challenging times, but thrive.

Schmidt first began grooming dogs five years ago, working at other grooming establishments throughout the Yakima area.

“I’ve worked with animals my whole life and have been very passionate about them,” Schmidt said.

This winter, seeking a greater degree of independence in her work, Schmidt made the decision to open her own grooming business, offering grooming services such as hair cutting, bathing and nail trimming to dogs of all breeds. While the business does not offer its services to cats, Schmidt says she does groom small animals such as guinea pigs.

Additionally, Schmidt’s friend and fellow groomer, Morgan Sigler, rents a space at Diamond in the Ruff to offer her own pet grooming services.

“I love grooming. I love making people happy,” Sigler said. “Some dogs come in matted, and it can hurt. So I like being able to reformat that dog so it feels better.”

With so many small businesses struggling to remain afloat in the midst of the pandemic, Schmidt did have a few reservations about her business venture, but decided to proceed.

“I’m a little concerned. But I’m just trying to have faith,” Schmidt said. “If you keep waiting for the perfect moment, there will never be one.”

Nonetheless, Schmidt is overall optimistic about the success of her new operation for a variety of reasons, among them the ability to adhere to COVID-19 safety protocols.

“We do a lot of contactless stuff. We don’t have to be in contact with a lot of people,” Schmidt said, pointing out that she, as a dog groomer, is in contact with animals for a much longer period of time than with other people.

Schmidt also attributes her optimism to an increase in the number of dogs being adopted and purchased. Her colleague, Sigler, who breeds dogs in addition to grooming, has seen this trend firsthand.

“Being actually in the breeding market, I can say that all prices are going up,” Sigler said. “People are going to want their puppies to come and get groomed.”

Schmidt and Sigler also feel that the relationships they have formed with clients through their previous work experiences will draw those clients to the new business.

“Dogs get to know their groomers more than you would ever think,” Schmidt said.

It is these strong bonds with animals that make dog grooming so rewarding for Schmidt.

She is hopeful that with an increased demand for grooming services and relationships with previous clients in her arsenal, Diamond in the Ruff will outlast the struggles of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the near future, she also hopes to add additional groomers to her team.

Meanwhile, Schmidt remains grateful for her work.

“Grooming has given my life meaning in such a way that I never thought was possible,” she said. “It just feels like family.”

Natalie Keller is a sophomore at Selah High School.