Meet Paws & Pause: The Samuel Wilson’s Loan-funded social enterprise where good dogs do good deeds

Recently our young entrepreneurs loan service Samuel Wilson’s Loan Trust, supported a wonderful business called Paws & Pause. We caught up with founders Grace and Jodie to learn more about them, their journey and what their future plans are.

Thank you for taking the time to talk to us! Could you start by telling us a bit about Paws & Pause?

Paws & Pause is where good dogs do good deeds. A doggy day care using the power of animals to transform people’s recovery journey and feel empowered to work.

Paws & Pause is a social enterprise established in September 2019. We believe in a world where the unconditional love of dogs can help people learn key life skills. Our centre is a place of positive wellbeing – for dogs and the people who care for them.

How do you start a regular day?

On the days where we are working in the day care our day starts in the best way possible. Can you imagine starting a Monday morning with 13 wet noses and the waggiest tails all so excited to see you? How could you not love a Monday morning? All the pups come in and the mornings are high energy – everyone is very excited to see each other, and we start off with lots of games and enrichment activities.

What or who was the inspiration behind Paws & Pause?

While working for a homeless charity, we encountered the distressing reality of limited sustainable employment opportunities for individuals in recovery. It became clear that animal-related jobs were particularly scarce. As lifelong dog enthusiasts, we firmly believe in the therapeutic potential of animal-assisted interventions for improving wellbeing and facilitating positive transformation. Thus, we established Paws & Pause, the only social enterprise doggy day care in London. Our mission was to create a socially impactful business that could sustain itself without relying on grant funding.

We are deeply committed to bridging the gap between profit-driven enterprises and charities. By funding our social programs through our day care services, we can stay true to our founding vision rather than prioritising financial gain. We are passionate about addressing the overlooked needs of individuals in recovery and the alarming lack of adequate services for this population. It is this imperative that underlies Paws & Pause.

What is the main challenge you have faced so far while running Paws & Pause?

Working out our legal structure. We constantly felt like we were being pulled into a structure that we didn’t want to be. It was always really important to us to stay in control of the business and show that a business can do both – we can be a company limited by shares that also provides social impact. 

“It gives me great joy when I win over an animal, there’s no substances out there that can provide such a natural high!” – Paws & Pause Trainee

What would you say to other entrepreneurs who might be facing challenges?

Firstly, remember to have fun!  While starting and growing a business can be stressful, it’s essential to enjoy in the journey and celebrate the small successes along the way.

Secondly, don’t give up. Challenges and obstacles are a part of any entrepreneurial journey, and it’s important to keep pushing forward, even when things get tough. Remember why you started this journey and keep that vision in mind as you navigate through the challenges.

Finally, know that it will be worth it. As an entrepreneur, you are creating something that is uniquely yours, and that can have a profound impact on the lives of others. Remember the impact you are making on your customers, your employees, and your community. The challenges you are facing today are temporary, but the reward of building a successful business will last!

And on a more positive note, tell us a bit about your biggest wins and what keeps you going?

As an entrepreneur, there are several factors that keep me motivated and inspired to continue with my business. Firstly, the success of the business itself is a great motivator. Seeing the business grow, generating revenue, and gaining recognition is incredibly rewarding.

Secondly, I am immensely proud of the business that we have created. Building a successful enterprise from scratch is a lot of hard work, and being able to look at what we have accomplished with pride is a driving force for me. Its cheesy but the feedback we get from both the dogs and the people we support makes all the hard work worth it.

Also, the team we have is an essential part of what keeps me going as an entrepreneur. The success of Paws & Pause is a result of their hard work, dedication, and commitment to our shared vision.

Thank you for applying for the Samuel Wilson’s Loan and congratulations on securing funding for the growth of your business. What does the future hold for Paws & Pause?

After four years of nurturing the dogs and people of SW London, we are thrilled to announce the Summer 2023 launch of our new dog day care location on Peckham Road. The space, previously used as a nightclub will now be transformed into a brand new, light filled facility that will provide day care in groups of up to ten pups based on size and group dynamic.

 We will even have a group specifically for the minis! With each dog attending the same group on a regular day of the week, our staff will get to know the little things about each pup and pack in order to create the best possible experience for them. Not to mention the regularity will help to replicate the strong bonds that pups and humans have at our current site.

With this expansion, we will also be able to offer our #PressPlay social impact programme to at least twice the number of people of our current location – good deeds are done by good dogs!

“I felt like I’d always be on benefits and couldn’t see how I could manage getting back to work, but now I see a future and I’m starting a part time job after being here for 3 months!” – Paws & Pause Trainee

This is incredibly exciting for us both on an individual level and as a social enterprise, and we’ll be sharing our journey on our Instagram @Pawsandpause! Check out the page and give us a follow to see good deeds, good dogs and more Paws & Pause on our journey to taking dog and human focussed impact across London and beyond.

Our growth has only been possible with the help of the Samuel Wilson Loan Trust. It’s really hard as a small business to get funding (especially as women in business). Their loan has allowed us to take on the new site and start growing the business! Without this it would have been near impossible for us to transition from being a small business to entering a growth stage and increasing our impact and income.  They spent the time with us to understand the business and did not write us off due to the size or age of the business. 

It’s been great to hear from you, it’s so inspiring to see your success and how you’ve brought your vision to life! As a final question, what advice do you have for anyone thinking about starting their own business?

1. Ask for help! Acknowledge what you know and understand the limits of your knowledge. Get people with expertise to help with bits you struggle with.

2. Start! Whatever your idea is, start talking about it, sharing it, writing a business plan, and trialling it. Do not be afraid to turn back or adapt if it’s not working. Trial and error in going down one route and then turning back can lead to success further down the line!

3. It is a difficult, exhausting path but hugely rewarding and a fun adventure. It is totally worth it!

See more from Paws & Pause!

*We strive to do our best when supporting small business and their growth. Our business databases can give you information and data that can help you with advertising, market research, company information, and industry factsheets. If you have already taken the plunge, we would love for you to join us at a seminar, our workshops cover digital marketing, business model canvas and planning, demystifying taxes and intellectual property to name a few. Visit our events page or website for more information.

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