We had the good fortune of connecting with Jessica Roberts and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jessica, what’s something about your industry that outsiders are probably unaware of?
One of the most common responses I get from outsiders when they find out what I do for a living is, “Wow, working with pets sounds like a dream job! I wanna do it too! How do I get into it?” To which I respond, “If you are serious about pet sitting, are you ready to make work/life sacrifices i.e. work 24/7, weekends, holidays and give up last minute vacations or nights out so you can make a decent living and keep clients?” That’s when most people realize pet sitting might not be the dream job they imagined. Another thing that most people don’t realize is taking care of other people’s pets is very serious. You really do need to be a conscientious pet lover and treat these sweet babies like the treasures that they are. I love animals more than people, so it’s an easy job for me. I also love working for myself, being outdoors all day and I enjoy my varied schedule, so making certain sacrifices is really worth it for me. I also love my unpredictable work schedule. Some days I get to sleep in until noon, and other days I’m booked solid walking dogs and burning calories all day. Yes, sometimes I have to give up my social life and holidays with family, but through the years I have learned how to work around that. Now I plan my vacations in advance (I always make sure my time off works for the clients), but most of the time I book my fun spontaneously whenever I have a free day or week. What I will never do is cancel on my clients if something else comes up (like a weekend to Cabo with the girls). My work always comes first, and this is why I have excellent client loyalty. Another “no no” that outsiders don’t understand is client privacy. I never invite friends or dates over to my client homes, and all of my walks are done solo. I take great pride in devoting 100% of my attention to keeping my client homes and pets safe.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Here’s a perfect example of, “If you can dream it, you can do it”: Before I started my pet sitting business, I worked in a talent management office for about 18 years. While I was great at that job (clients adored me/my boss depended on me), I was rather unfulfilled and never really felt like that career was my calling. So, one day I made a commitment to reinvent myself. As I brainstormed ideas, pet sitting kept calling to me, mostly because I desperately wanted to work with animals, but I also didn’t want to go back to college (i.e. veterinarian school). Starting a pet sitting business, with no overhead, seemed like a small risk to take. By 2015, by some stroke of luck, my talent management job turned into a work from home situation, so I gleefully jumped on the opportunity to build my pet sitting company on the side. I had always wanted to quit my former desk job, but I had to earn a decent living as a single woman, so my only option was to continue to work for that company while building my pet sitting empire on the side. That’s when I discovered that being an entrepreneur aligns better with my personality type! Wow, I often think, if I had never started pet sitting, I would never have known this about myself. I also discovered that I enjoy being creative and found that working solo is a better environment for me. As for my creative side, I came up with my brand and designed my website, then I hired a logo designer and ordered business cards. Once all of that was in place, I hit the streets and self promoted like crazy! I was literally working two jobs 24/7 for 3 years! Financially, it was amazing, but mentally and physically it took a toll on me. However, I kept my nose to the grindstone, and by 2018 my pet sitting business was fully established. I was finally free and able to phase myself out of my other full time job. Was it easy? No. Was it worth it? Hell yes! Working 24/7 was hard, giving up my social life was hard, having zero dating life sucked, but I was determined to get my dream job/dream life and now I have it. I think the moral of this story is, if you are unhappy in your career, I’m proof that perseverance and imagination can get you the dream life you desire.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Sunday: Rest and relax, walk around Fairfax District and enjoy my historic neighborhood. Find a great place to grab coffee and a treat (Haute Mess or Cake Monkey). Walk to Pan Pacific park and enjoy the scenery and all the dogs. Attend Ecstatic Dance LA (bi monthly event that weaves together world class DJ’s, immersive sound journeys and free form movement. It is substance free). Maybe catch a late night sound bath at The Den Meditation on La Brea.
Monday: Drive up the coast for a scenic view of our beautiful coastline. I’m a huge fan of stopping off at Point Mugu (dogs are allowed) or Oxnard State Beach Park (also dog friendly, huge park to run and play, plus huge sand dudes to perch on overlooking the ocean). On the way back, hit up Malibu Seafood ( I love their shrimp cocktail) and hopefully catch a beautiful beach sunset.
Tuesday: Sleep in, lazy morning with coffee, then drive to Santa Monica Beach parking lot (I like the one closest to Ocean Park Blvd because it’s far away from tourists), throw on roller skates or roller blades and enjoy an easy, flat, smooth, bike path skate. I usually head north and skate for about 1.5 hours (round trip). The view of the beach while skating is really refreshing and lovely. Sometimes Ciao Bella Granitas will be set up along the bike path (must get one of her Italian ices). After the skate, head to the water for a few hours of sunning and swimming and then finish the day with dinner at In and Out burger.
Wednesday: Grab the dogs, pack a picnic and our hoops (hoop flow arts) and spend a few hours at Lake Balboa Park in Van Nuys. Note: Must drive the scenic route over Laurel Canyon. Lake Balboa Park is a huge recreational park with a large lake. It’s a beautiful setting and a lovely way to spend the day. In the evening, plan to catch a show at one of the many comedy clubs or Improvs in Fairfax/West Hollywood. I love the Laugh Factory, The Comedy Store & The Groundlings. Enjoy a late dinner of sushi or Thai food (Nubu, Sugarfish, or my fave Thai place Si Laa).
Thursday: Sleep in again! You’ll need to after a late night out drinking at comedy clubs. Hike Temescal Canyon Loop in the Santa Monica mountains. It’s about 2.6 miles, very steep up hill climb, with a huge payoff of an ocean view at the top. Get ready for amazing photo opportunities, especially during golden hour when the sun is just starting to set. Dogs are not allowed on this trail.
Friday: I’m a huge techno and house lover, and follow a lot of the local LA DJ’s and residents. Let’s go to Deep LA (founded by Marques Wyatt) and then find an underground Burning Man party. LA’s night life is dope AF. We can dance til dawn and Lyft home at sunrise. There’s something magical about sunrise in this city, I can’t quite describe it, but it’s special.
Saturday: Rest day, recovery, pick up sandwiches from Potato Chips Deli and Chocolate Chips cookies from Haute Mess and drive to Venice Beach to participate in the Venice Beach Drum Circle. This event happens every Saturday and Sunday afternoon/evening. Dancing, chanting and banging out communal songs at this gathering is a must do while in LA.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My shout-out goes to my dog, Annie. I owe a huge thank you to Annie (the love of my life) for being such a trooper and tireless helper. Annie is sweet, loving, gentle, kind, patient, polite and it makes me so proud to show her off to clients as she also represents my company brand. When clients meet her and see how friendly she is, they often request that she tag along for walks and overnight pet sits. I mean, when you think about it, it’s a win win for everyone! Doggies love dog friends to play with, and I get to have my best friend by my side 24/7. Annie is also great at making introductions to other dog owners at parks or on the street, which often leads to exchanging information about my business. Thank you Annie for being the best little co-worker/business partner a dog mom could ask for!
Instagram: @micasaespoochcasa @lastusernameever_ @jessica_anne_allthethings
Other: I recently started a YouTube channel called All the Things. It’s very new, I have 1 follower, LOL. My content is mostly reviews of products and things I’m interested in, all inspired by quarantine life. I’ll be shooting a series about pet grooming supplies and how to groom soon, so keep an eye out for that.
All photos were taken by me, except for the vertical photo with Annie in the backpack (taken by Teresa Roberts).