The Ground Floor: Young entrepreneur opens pet salon on Ellis

Groomer wants to lend hand in bringing back Cedar Rapids neighborhood

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The biggest obstacle Natasha Conner has faced as a new business owner is people not taking her seriously because of her age. But the 23-year-old said she’s ready for the challenges of running La Bella Pet Spa, which opened this week.

“I have a lot of ideas about how to approach things,” she said. “I want to show people what I can do.”

Conner grew up helping her parents with their businesses, which include a cleaning company and real estate rentals. She found her own calling at age 18 when she took a job as a grooming assistant with a national pet supply retailer and trained to become a groomer.

“I absolutely love being around dogs,” she said. “I love getting to know them one-on-one and helping them out.”

With four years’ experience as a groomer, Conner began looking for a location to open her own pet grooming business. As soon as she stepped into the bright, open space at 1200 Ellis Blvd., formerly a brake and alignment shop, she knew she had found the spot.

“I wanted the building because of the windows,” she said, noting the storefront’s big plate-glass windows will allow customers to watch their pets being groomed. “From outside the building you can see everything that goes on.”

The business opened its doors Wednesday.

A pet day care and kennel is located nearby, and Conner envisions possible synergies between the two pet-focused businesses.

“A lot of people like to take their pets in for grooming after boarding them, and this is a convenient location,” she said.

The Ellis Boulevard neighborhood was hit hard by the 2008 flood, and Conner anticipates becoming involved in the Northwest Neighbors Neighborhood Association.

“I want to help Ellis get back to what it used to be,” she said.

  • Owner: Natasha Conner
  • Company: La Bella Pet Spa
  • Address: 1200 Ellis Boulevard NW
  • Phone: (319) 450-4546
  • Website:

Know a company in business for less than a year that would be a good fit with “The Ground Floor”? Contact business editor Michael Chevy Castranova at

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