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I am always thrilled when women-owned or mom-owned businesses reach out to me to be part of my Sunday Spotlight feature. To be able to shine the Sunday Spotlight on these businesses is always fun for me and an honor as well. The spirit, drive and determination of Minnesota women never ceases to amaze me and Tanya Swanson is one of those women.
Tanya and Mike Swanson have just opened a pet lodge near Mille Lacs Lake. Tanya is a veterinary technician who homeschools the couple’s four kids. The Swansons have also recently built a completely brand-new facility to board the pets of the Brainerd Lakes area.
Premier Pet Lodge is the result of almost 20 years of hard work and big dreams for the Swanson family and Tanya has been a Certified Veterinary Technician for 14 years. She has years of experience working in the veterinary field, including The Minnesota Zoo, The Wildlife Rehab Center of MN, the MN DNR and a variety of veterinary clinics. She also has a B.S. in Conservation Biology. Mike is a Certified Medical Coder and also has years of experience in animal care. They have four fantastic kids who are excited to help out whenever they can as well.
The Premier Pet Lodge is committed to:
- Respect, honesty and communication
- Serving God, our family and our community, both human and animal
- Making environmentally-conscious choices in our business
- Continued professional growth and training
- Investing in the dreams of others
Q: Tell us about your business. When did you start and how long you’ve been in business too.
Tanya: In January of this year we opened Premier Pet Lodge on our 40 acre property in Malmo, near the east side of Mille Lacs Lake. It was a labor of love that we began to pursue in October of 2015, when we visited the Small Business Development Center at Central Lakes College. I don’t know if we would have made it this far without their support! Once we had our business plan, projections and financing ready we built a brand-new facility from the ground up.
Q: Share what attracted you to this business, and what you like most about it.
Tanya: I’ve been in the animal field for almost 20 years. I began with a degree in the field of Wildlife Conservation and worked in wildlife rehab and animal rescue through college. After graduation I decided I wanted to have a more hands-on approach to caring for animals and became a certified veterinary technician 12 years ago, working in a variety of animal-related positions. I loved my career…and then I started having babies of my own! Four babies later, I found myself looking for a way to use my skills (which were a big part of my identity) and still be home to help my children learn and grow. I love that I’m able to pursue my passion for helping animals while providing for my family. It’s been really empowering.
Q:What has been your biggest business challenge with your business thus far?
Tanya: The biggest challenge I’ve had so far is learning to juggle all the aspects of business, caring for my home, homeschooling and finding time at the end of the day to unwind. Luckily I have an amazing husband who carries half the weight.
Q:What business goals to do you have for 2017?
Tanya: My business goals for 2017 are to put the finishing touches on our building and start to offer some new services and products that maybe aren’t readily available in other places! We love to use organic and natural products in our home and with our animals, and we try to extend that to the pet lodge as well. I have a real interest in nutrition and wellness for pets and I love to help owners find natural solutions to common health problems. Our ultimate goal for 2017 is to be busy enough that my husband can work from home with us.
Q: Which one your products (or services) are you favorite and why?
Tanya: We have a few really great organic and natural products coming for pets. I’d like to offer a small selection of really great products that I think every pet owner should have. We provide essential oil support to our guests if the owner is interested, which can help with everything from stress to pain. It’s been really fun to see the difference that can make. Like many moms, I’m a research nut.
Q: Tell us about your family.
Tanya: I’ve been married to my husband Mike for 12 years and we have four children….2 girls and 2 boys, ages 13 months to 9 years. We’ve homeschooled since pre-school and we love it. We have a fantastic homeschool “group” in our town and we spend many days learning together. We also have an amazing Bulldog/Rottweiler named Blue, a guinea pig, and two cats. All of our animals are rescues.
Q: What advice do you want to share for moms/women in business?
Tanya: My best piece of advice is to lean on the support of people who really care about you for help when you need it. I’m surrounded by women who build me up, pray for me, and support me in whatever capacity I need. My grandma has owned her own business for many years as a designer, and she’s been a great example to me!
Q: Other mompreneurs are always curious how others juggle the work/life balance and you’ve added homeschooling to the mix! Any advice/tips for women running a business and raising a family?
Tanya: I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to say I’ve got that balance totally perfected. I try to think in the long term and pray that it all evens itself out! I’m typing this I’m breastfeeding a baby who’s kicking the keyboard and listening to my 3 yr old tantrum while my husband folds the laundry. At the end of a week I look back and say, how did we do? Some weeks make me proud and some weeks make me cringe! I really depend on my girlfriends and my relationship with Jesus to get me through.
Q:What do you want readers of Mom Squad Central to know about your business?
Tanya: I would love the readers of Mom Squad to know that the pets who stay with us become part of our family. Our business is built on a desire to serve our community, and I believe we will do that in even bigger ways than I can imagine right now. Also, we do a monthly give-away of a BarkBox for one of the pets who stays with us each month!
Q: If you could pick one thing that you love the most about your business, what would it be?
Tanya: My favorite thing about our business is forming relationships with other people in our community! People love their pets so much, it’s so hard to leave them. We try to be that place where the pets feel safe.
Q:Are you on Facebook? Twitter? Linked-In?
Tanya: You can find us on facebook.com/premierpetlodge and Twitter @premierpetlodge.
Q: If you could “bust out” and do ONE crazy thing in your lifetime (with no consequences) what would that be?
Tanya: If I could do one thing, I’d pack my family up and travel the world for a whole year! I’ve always dreamed of “worldschooling” my kids and myself!
Q: If you had to choose one word that sums up your focus for 2017, what would it be?