Pandemic puppies can be spotted all over Greenpoint: Frolicking through Transmitter Park, booping noses on Franklin St., and, likely more often than not, cuddled up with their humans at home. Dogs certainly had a lot to gain from our year-long-and-counting shut in, but as life slowly resumes, and leaving the house becomes more safe and feasible, petcare may become more of a necessity. Enter JoJo & Co Pet Club (6 Bell Slip), which opened in late 2020, but dates back to founder Carmen Akella’s final project for her MBA at Cornell, circa 2005.
“My passion was always to launch a dog daycare and spa,” Akella reminiscences of the business plan she drew up for an idea that she would actually pursued. The lifelong dog lover had worked in publishing for a few years, and then transitioned into advertising, working for several global advertising agencies before pursuing her MBA. After graduation, she stayed in advertising, started a family, and kept her dream on the backburner.
By 2018, the dream hadn’t faded, and Akella’s 11-year-old daughter asked her what was holding her back. “If you want to start your dog business, I say do it,” Akella remembers her saying. “Hearing my daughter say this, so young, yet so wise, just resonated and inspired me to push past the fear and apprehension.” The thought of walking away from a steady paycheck to start a business from the ground up felt exciting, scary, exhilarating, nerve-wracking, and amazing, all at the same time, Akella recalled. And JoJo & Co Pet Club was born, named after Akella’s beloved Havanese.
Now, members can visit for daycare, bed and breakfast, spa and vet services. Puppy classes will also be added soon. Though JoJo and initially planned to charge for membership, with the pandemic’s financial insecurity at play, membership is currently free. Dog, cat, and rabbit owners merely need to sign up online, provide some medical and personal details and their pet, and they’re in!
“Our service is personalized and tailored to our customers’ needs. We will engage our dogs in play and make sure they have a great time. If a dog prefers to relax or be on their own and away from group, we will take them away from the play area, and let them relax on our doggy sofa, with a blanket and let them totally unwind,” Akella said. “We play dog meditation music for our pets when we feel they need to take a brief break from playing hard. We go above and beyond to make sure our dogs are happy and safe, while also making sure our pet parents feel confident and comfortable in leaving their dogs in our care.” Pet parents are sent photos, videos, and updates of their pets throughout the day.
With so many of JoJo’s clientele being first time pet parents, Akella can tell they are both excited and nervous to separate from their pups. Humans are invited to stay as long as they need, and to also pop in and say hi to their pets throughout the day. “We build relationships with each and every one of our customers, and I think that is very unique in this space,” Akella said. “We are building a community.”
JoJo & Co’s retail shop also offers a wide range of premium quality pet food, treats, toys, coats, rain jackets and boots, along with leashes, collars, bowls, and organic pet grooming products. “As pet parents, we always wondered why can’t all, or most, of our dog’s or cat’s needs be met in one place, versus having to go to numerous service providers,” Akella said. “The ultimate goal is to make pet parenthood as easy and stress-free as possible and for our fur babies to live their best lives!”