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Jill Swain

Jill Swain

  • Photo by Anthony Jinson

Owner, Creature Comforts of Columbia

Job description

I manage new client inquiries and meetings, scheduling, payroll, hiring, training, and also still do some pet sitting and dog walking visits.

Professional background

I graduated from MU in 2008 with a degree in animal science. I worked as a veterinary assistant for about 10 years before, during, and after college prior to opening Creature Comforts of Columbia in 2013. In 2009, I began fostering dogs and puppies, which led to my involvement with Unchained Melodies Dog Rescue, where I currently serve as the assistant director. I’m also a founding member of No Kill Columbia, which is the organization that opened The Spay Neuter Project in 2015, a nonprofit, low-cost spay and neuter clinic that serves all of Mid-Missouri.

Hometown

Raymore, Missouri.

Years lived in Columbia

16 years.

Quote you live by

“Adopt don’t shop.” 

Favorite volunteer/community activity

I love managing the puppy nursery for Unchained Melodies.

Favorite recent project

Puppy Social Hour. The isolation from the pandemic was hard on all of us, especially new puppies. Socialization with new people, experiences, and other dogs is key to helping them develop confidence and the ability to handle new situations. Last fall, I began hosting a small group of pet owners along with their puppies for “puppy social hour” at Unchained Melodies Training Center. Watching a dog go from shy and unsure one week to a social butterfly the next is so fun to witness. 

A Columbia business person you admire and why

Krista Kippenberger. We met shortly after she and Curt [Kippenberger, Krista’s husband] opened Focus on Health Chiropractic and I’ve loved watching them grow their business while growing their family. Krista is always looking for new ways to get involved in our community and she’s a tremendous inspiration as a mother and business owner.

Why you are passionate about your job

We love animals — a lot. We love our pets even more. We’re blessed to work with clients who cherish their pets as much as we do, and knowing that we provide them with genuine peace of mind while they travel or work long hours is incredibly rewarding. Hanging out with animals all day is pretty cool too.

Why you are passionate about your company

Creature Comforts of Columbia started as a side hustle. Through word of mouth and a lot of work, it’s grown into a legitimate small business that allows us to do something we love while providing a valuable service to the community.

If you weren’t doing this for a living, you would

I would probably work full-time in animal rescue. 

What people should know about your profession

It’s not as easy as you would think. We serve our clients 365 days a year and are responsible for their pets and their homes. We differentiate ourselves from the friend, family member, or hobbyist pet sitter by investing in health and safety education for our sitters, and we utilize the most up-to-date software and apps to schedule, track, and communicate with our clients 24/7. We are licensed, bonded, and insured and employees pass a criminal background check before being hired. 

The next challenge facing your industry

We were seriously affected by the pandemic due to the lack of travel and many people working from home the past year. Now that everyone is traveling again and business is surging, finding qualified applicants has been our primary challenge. 

Your next professional goal

Our current service area is limited to south and central Columbia. As we rebound from COVID, our goal is expansion. By this time next year, we hope to be able to service all of Columbia. 

Biggest lesson learned in business

Take time off.

How you want to impact the Columbia community

I would like to impact the Columbia community by inspiring people to become involved in causes they’re passionate about. If they’re passionate about animals, I would be happy to help them find the organization that fits their interests and abilities. 

Greatest strength

Reliability.

Greatest weakness

Organization.

What you do for fun

My fiancé and I love live music, great food, and lounging with our pets.

Family

Nathan and I have been together 15 years and we have a 4-month-old daughter named Amelia. Our pet family includes the dogs, Dexter, Fiona, Jackson, Nora, and Paris, and various reptiles, including our tortoise, Herbie.

Favorite place in Columbia

Rose Music Hall when Tyler Childers played for 14 people. Or Flyover any day that they’re open.

Accomplishment you are most proud of

Personally, becoming a mother. Professionally, growing my business to the point that I can provide jobs to other people. 

Most people don’t know that you

We have an 8-year-old sulcata tortoise named Herbie. We got him as a hatchling and now he’s probably 75 pounds. 

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