Cut & Print is a local dog grooming service, created by Stephen McGuire and Brock graduate Jessica Sweeny, both practicing artists and avid animal lovers in St. Catharines. They not only offer grooming, but also hand drawn or painted portraits of pets. The website also notes that they offer makeovers and private portrait sessions “to celebrate everything that makes your pet special and beautiful” as well as “doggy day care” for puppies that aren’t ready to be left at home alone. The website also promises to take in your dog and treat them like a member of the family. I was able to sit down with both McGuire and Sweeny in order to discuss the shop, the gallery night and what their goals are for the future.
Q: What is your part in Cut & Print?
Jess: There was hardly any work around here, so we were trying to brainstorm what we could do with this random skill set, and we came up with grooming dogs and then taking their pictures afterwards when they’re looking all pretty. That was the idea and then it all came together – not easily, but worth it.
This has been in the making for a year and a few months. Last June, we officially opened. It was crazy, just trying to establish a client base and I was still finishing up at Brock, while Steve was starting this. Then I graduated and a few months later my son was born. So, it’s been a crazy whirlwind the whole time.
Steve works really, really hard, and I do what I can here and there. I remember, I was eight and a half months pregnant and just loving life – it was great. I love these dogs, they’re the best and this is the best job ever.
Q: How is business going?
Jess: It comes and goes. Back to school was kind of slow because everyone was pretty busy. We have a client base now of almost 300 dogs that we’ve groomed. Whenever we have a new dog, we try to take photos of them.
It’s nice because in around the spring the local MP came, he was talking about a local business tour and reaching out, and he came and personally thanked us for helping out with local business. That was really neat. It’s really nice to feel like you’re building something for yourself and you’re in this community where people know who you are and are trying to support you.
Q: What is it like to paint things that will become cherished items in peoples’ homes?
Steve: When I start, I do feel a certain pressure. There are expectations that you might not live up to. When you’re in the middle of it, the only thing that exists is the struggle to paint the image. When I’m in the middle of it, during the grunt work, I don’t think about that. Later, when the form is laid out and recognizable, and you’re just adding the fireworks and things like that, then you start to think about it. If it’s going super well, you can’t wait to give it to them. Sometimes, when things are not going so well, you cringe at the thought of having to give it to them. They might not like it.
Q: What was the inspiration for the gallery night?
Jess: We do a lot of custom work and we wanted to show people that it’s available. Our whole philosophy is that we want to make it as affordable as we can, because we think that everyone should be able to afford to take care of their pet. It shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg for something that’s going to improve their quality of life.