A lot can happen in a year, just ask Newstead local Tori Smith.

Back in March 2016, Tori was referred to PeoplePlus Ballarat and her primary goal at the time was to secure full-time work and be self-sufficient.

“I was working casually as a cook. I enjoyed my job but it wasn’t a job I was excited to go to everyday,” she admits.

Tori has also always had a love for animals and knew whatever career path she chose to pursue, it would have to include animals as they are her absolute passion. It was during her job search that things quickly took an unexpected turn, thanks to a distraction from her father.

“My dad sent me a text one day with just a picture of a mobile dog grooming van.

“After looking at that photo, it was the first time I had ever pictured myself in a different job. I rang him straight away and within the day, I had enrolled myself into a Dog Grooming course which was to be held in Melbourne.”

Tori then began to work closely with our NEIS Coordinator, Wendy Winzar who referred Tori to the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS) program. With the guidance of PeoplePlus and our NEIS services, Tori decided to turn her passion for animals into an exciting career, which she admits to having progressed very quickly.

“I knew that from the moment I started the program, I was set on this being my life, my job, and my new passion so I bought a trailer and began working towards opening my own business.

“The NEIS program was exactly what I needed to open my own business. I am very thankful to have participated in a program where your dreams are not only encouraged, they are shown to be reachable.”

Having opened her business, Tori’s Pooch Parlour back in June 2016, Tori has since been servicing the demand for dog grooming across Central Victoria, with a purposely fitted trailer complete with hydro bath and all the equipment required, with plans for a second trailer current in the pipeline.

“I had never thought about opening my own business, so I had a lot to learn.

“What stuck with me the most was the favourite phrase ‘do what works’, from my mentor at PeoplePlus, who has been very helpful for me.”

August 2017 is also shaping up to be a very successful month for Tori.

Last week, she was awarded the Mount Alexander Shire Microbusiness Award for 2017 and has also been nominated as one of the three finalists for the Best New Business category at the National NEIS Association Business Awards which will be held tonight. The winner will be announced by the Minister for Employment, Michaela Cash.

PeoplePlus would like to congratulate Tori on her recent award and upcoming nomination through NEIS, and continued success in the future.