Homegrown entrepreneurs: Katelyn Carlson

RANGELY | The long-term survival of any small town often hinges on the desire of young people who were raised in the community choosing to either return to or stay in their town, finding a way to make a living and contribute to the community. Over the next few weeks the Herald Times will spotlight a few young entrepreneurs who have opted to do just that, building their lives and businesses and developing their passions in their own local hometowns.
Katelyn Carlson – Owner, Country Bandit K-9 Services
Katelyn Carlson, 23, graduated from Rangely High School in 2012 without a clear idea of just what she wanted to do. She did, however, know that she loved animals and eventually, following the tragic loss of her dog Bandit, turned that passion into a business right here in Rangely.
Q: What did you do after high school?
A: After high school I worked for the school district as a custodian/maintenance person. During that time I also went to school at the Animal Behavior Institute to become a certified dog trainer, dog behaviorist and dog nutritionist. After a couple of years working and going to school, I saw that PetCo in Vernal was hiring a dog groomer apprentice, and I decided it was time to follow my passion for animals. I applied for the position and ended up getting it. After working at PetCo for a year I became a certified dog groomer. Then after about three years there I decide it was time to give back to my community and open a business in Rangely.
Q: Did you know at the time you would want to return to your hometown?
A: At the time I really didn’t know if Rangely was the right place for me. I was young and just wanted to fly the coop you could say. But in the end, I knew Rangely was my home and I would always come back.
Q: Tell me about your business
A: Country Bandit isn’t just a grooming service but also a dog training service. I am hoping to eventually sell dog food and leashes and much more. I want to be able to help all dogs put their best paw forward.
The Bandit part of my business name means the most to me. This part of the name is from my old Shetland Sheep Dog, Bandit, who died in 2016.
Q: What keeps you here now?
A: My family, friends and my amazing business and clientele. This business wouldn’t be running without my amazing customers and their dogs.
Q: What is the biggest challenge to starting a business here?
A: The biggest challenge when I opened my business, and still somewhat to this day, is the financial aspect of getting started.
Q: What’s your vision for economic development? What do you think the town/county can do to bring young people in?
A: Something I think that could help keep younger kids here is to show them that there are people out there that will help them with questions they have about small business. I didn’t know that there are places in town that will help point you in the right direction for starting your business, such as the Small Business Development Center, until after I had opened. That would have been nice and made it so much easier to understand what I was doing.