From the ground up
FDSH alum credits DECA, Jaeschke for early business success
PHOENIX — The foundation to what would quickly become two successful businesses for Liz Illg started in the halls at Fort Dodge Senior High.
Illg, a 2005 graduate of FDSH, is the owner of five pet grooming businesses in Arizona along with her own consulting firm for small businesses.
“DECA was the perfect program for me,” Illg said. “I wanted to go out into the workforce early, which is what it allowed me to do. Amy Jaeschke was understanding, compassionate and met people where they were. I also connected with Jerry L. Schnurr III and his law office and worked there within the program.
“I’ll never forget those days where my work foundation all started by answering phones, filing and greeting clients.”
Illg earned her bachelor’s degree in business science from Arizona State University and obtained her master’s in education from Northern Arizona University. She started a corporate career, but felt the itch to do and achieve more.
That’s when Illg purchased her first of what would become five Puff & Fluff Grooming and Pet Sitting businesses.
“Of course, no path to success is all sleek and sunshiney,” Illg admitted. “In fact, before I built my pet-grooming business from the ground up, everyone told me that I couldn’t do it. I was denied loans from friends, family and all banks save for one. I struggled with people who reminded me of my lack of business ownership experience, but I didn’t quit when I heard the naysayers because I was determined to make my dream a reality.
“I kept going and going and going until I heard ‘Yes.'”
From there, Illg decided to help all those other small business owners who might need the added encouragement by doing consulting work.
“My consulting business is doing great,” she said. “It’s still hard work each and every day, but I’ve learned so much, and it’s now my time to share my knowledge with other small business owners to help them succeed. I pushed forward knowing I could do it, and I did. I really did not have an option because too much was on the line.
“Knowing I’ve worked really hard to get where I am to have the best life has been so memorable. There are still moments that are hard, but it makes it more rewarding. Growing from shop-to-shop is very fun and so memorable because it represents different phases of my life over the last six years, which is fun to look back at.
“The emotional moments are when we try our very best as a business, but it might not always look that way from a different eye. It’s also hard from the pet business to see pets age and have to say good bye to them after bonding.”
Illg serves clients in both the United States and Canada in regards to her Liz Illg Consulting business, adding, “It’s a true honor to connect with other business owners.”
“Helping them build their dream lives, I always say, ‘I’ve been there and I’m excited to show you what I did to grow my business,” Illg said. “Owning my businesses has been a true honor to my life, a life that I dreamed of and was able to create. I take great pride in that.
“Being a business owner is not easy, as there are good and bad days, but I push forward being the visionary of both of my brands. Inspiring others to grow and succeed is one of my greatest passions.”