We had the good fortune of connecting with Halle Roberts and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Halle, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Honestly, starting Heel House was a huge leap of faith. I had gotten to a point in my career where I was unsatisfied with how larger companies were running their business and treating their clients. I wanted to make positive changes not only in my own life, but also in the lives of others. When I got my first dog, I didn’t have access to the training he needed and ended up developing a passion for communicating properly, first with him, and then with my friends’ dogs. This quickly turned into getting an education, and taking notes on the things I wanted to see improve in the pet training industry. Heel House was developed shortly after that.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I love our team and our family-oriented approach to training. When I was working in a larger corporation, the dogs were being treated like dollar signs, not individuals. Because we are small and take on only a few dogs at a time, we have a unique ability to really see, hear, and relate to people’s specific needs. Businesses are always in danger of falling into the “one-size-fits-all” trap. It’s easy to do when you have a tried and true methodology, but working with smaller numbers allows us to have a more loving and individualized approach. Of course we have set programs, but I love being able to adjust those programs to fit each families’ needs, and the freedom to make the right call for each dog, regardless of how much we are receiving. Getting to this point in my career was not always easy – time, study, having an open mind to learning (and recognizing there’s always something more to learn), hard work, and support from others was absolutely key. When we were setting everything up, we focused on making connections with other small businesses, artists, and entrepreneurs in the community. Our logo, photography, website, instagram account, etc, were all started by local and solo artists. This gave us the opportunity to make great connections, support local people, and get a solid foundation to stand on. Working with dogs has taught me so much about patience, love, and understanding. Those are the key components to our success, along with recognizing that not every family fits into the same mold. Everything I advise to our clients, I’ve been through before. I treat each and every one as if they are family – I can fully relate to the struggle they are going through with their dog, because I’ve been there before with my own before I even considered a training career. There’s been a few times when it seems like a day goes on forever, but I take pride in reminding myself that what my family and I have started isn’t just a “job”. It’s a lifestyle. Our mission is to enhance relationship. Not everyone is afforded the same opportunities in life – our design is to be accessible and understanding, setting owners and dogs up for what they really need, not just what they want to hear.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
There is an overabundance of places to visit in San Diego. I love a good hike, cup of coffee, and of course the dog beaches. If I had a friend come visit for a few days, we’d likely try a new coffee spot every day, go to dog beach, do a few hikes, and get some fantastic seafood! If I need an iced latte, I love heading over to Communal Coffee off of Texas St in NorthPark. They have an amazing iced salted caramel latte, with any milk choice, or you can do a latte flight and try a few of their great selection. When I took my sister there, she ordered a floral flight – her favorite was the lavender honey latte. If I’m looking for something hot, I love The Living Room off of El Cajon Blvd. Their Chai Tea Latte is unmatched! After we’d get our coffee, we’d likely take the dogs to OB Dog Beach, and then walk over to Hodad’s for a burger if we were feeling something hearty, or for a lighter choice (and my personal favorite), go for fresh poké from It’s Raw. I love to be active, and so do most of my friends, so we’d likely go to Cowles (with the dogs, of course) for a hike or do some bouldering at Grotto Rock Climbing Gym. For a lazy afternoon, one of my favorite places to go is the arts district in Salona Beach. Dinners would include Crack Shack (if you haven’t been you’re missing out on some amazing fried chicken), Hane Sushi, or Water Bar in PB. We’d end the visit with a trip to Mt. Helix to see the sun go down over San Diego. There are so many incredible views here – coming from the mid-west, I love to be in the mountains!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My husband Scott has been my biggest supporter and the foundation our family has been built on. Any time I doubted our decision or my abilities, Scott was right there to not only encourage, but also back us up. He has been a pivotal role in our success as a business, meeting every challenge with a smile and fresh idea to help us move forward better than before. Before the pandemic, Scott was an AV Engineer (a good one at that!), and COVID really messed up a large portion of his career. I am continually impressed with how readily he was able to fully immerse himself into Heel House. He is now a full Owner with myself, and leads the staff with grace. Scott has been learning the industry with me since the day we met, but now he spends his time training the dogs in our care, and teaching others how to properly build a relationship with them. I just want to tell him, “Thank you for all you do!!”
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