Originally published in the Daily Record.
Kimberly Sperun could not have imagined herself as a small business owner just a year ago.
The 24-year-old Randolph native, who was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease when she was 10, was recovering from surgery where she had more than a foot of her small intestine removed.
She was initially unable to eat and struggling to walk but worked her way back and is now the owner of Back of the Bike Pet Grooming, which opened on July 1 in Randolph.
Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease that is characterized by inflammation of the intestines. Often, sufferers are left with severe abdominal pain, cramping, fevers and an inability to absorb nutrients properly from food.
“When I was little I was on steroids that made me lose control of my legs,” Sperun said. “When I was in the 8th grade I lost my leg function. I couldn’t walk. Even a year ago, I was on twice-monthly injections.”
Unable to handle the leg soreness associated with her injections and seeing only minimal results, Sperun decided to undergo an intestinal resection—and the 10 weeks of recovery that accompany it—in an effort to “finally feel better.”
It was during that recovery that Sperun—who had been working in public relations—decided to become a certified pet groomer.
With Back of the Bike in mind, Sperun started taking pet grooming classes at Boonton’s NJ Dog Grooming Academy on Saturdays. When she gained confidence that there was no other path for her, she left her job to attend grooming school full-time. She graduated in March and immediately began looking for a space in her hometown where she could set up shop.
“When I finally started to feel better I realized, ‘Wow, this is what people are supposed to feel like,’” she said. “After being sick for so long, that was what really inspired me to be happy every day. A year ago I couldn’t walk. Now, I am on my feet all day and I have energy. It is great.”
And, according to Joan Bonadeo, owner of the NJ Dog Grooming Academy, Kim’s decision to jump into grooming headfirst was a wise one.
“She was focused on her training, she was a top student,” she said. “She learned to properly groom dogs with an understanding that safety is an important aspect. She is ready to serve the public.”
Working with animals and being a part of Randolph’s business economy is a Sperun-family tradition. Her mother, Anita, is the owner of Randolph Pet Services, a pet sitting service. According to Kimberly, her mother’s success is a big part of the reason she decided to go into business for herself.
“I decided to open my business in Randolph because my mother also had a business in Randolph,” Sperun said. “Through her connections, guidance and support I was able to open Back of the Bike. I saw that she was able to open a business for herself and it inspired me to do the same thing.”
According to Anita Sperun, her daughter’s decision to open Back of the Bike Pet Grooming “makes perfect sense.” She said that because of Randolph Pet Services, Kim has already had years of experience working with a variety of pets.
“I am happy that she went into pets because I can’t help but think that that was inspired by me, which is kind of nice,” Anita Sperun said. “Everybody worries about their kid going into business for themselves because it is a hard time. But, Kim is a hard worker and I don’t have any doubts about her.”
Kimberly Sperun decided to name the business Back of the Bike because her location is not visible from Route 10 but it is in the back of Marty’s Reliable Cycle, which is a popular and well known store. She hopes the name will help people remember her and her location.
Sperun, who graduated from The College of New Jersey with a degree in Communications in 2012, has also been a vegetarian and animal rights advocate since she was 10.
“I have always been very compassionate towards animals,” she said. “When I was volunteering with them (at Noah’s Ark in Ledgewood) as a child, I got the idea to become a vegetarian.”
That desire to ensure the best for all animals extends into Back of the Bike’s retail section. Treats are all-natural and collars and leashes are sourced from retailers who hand-make all items.
“Everything I have in my retail section, I personally believe in the product,” Sperun said. “And I make my own bows.”
Sperun said that it is small touches like these that set her boutique-style grooming salon apart.
“Each dog that comes in here, I really treat as they were my own,” she said.
Back of the Bike Pet Grooming is located at 1164 Rt. 10 West, behind Marty’s Reliable Cycle. http://www.backofthebikepetgrooming.com/ or 973-252-2050.