Dog owners of Acton will no doubt already know Carina Madrell, owner of the Bark Club on Churchfield Rd.
Carina, originally from Sweden and has lived in Acton for 46 years and opened Bark club in 2013. We caught up with her to find out more about her and her life in Acton.
Hi Carina, tell us more about yourself?
I’m originally from Sweden. When I first settled in London, my husband and I lived in a rented flat in Kensington, which I though was an ok area. Little did I know that it was going to be downhill from then on. Circumstances led us to having to move at a very short notice , and some friends were vacating a flat in Poets Corner, which we took over. I just could not believe what an dump of an area we had moved into. Instructed my husband not to bother connecting the phone or doing any home improvements. We were NOT staying. However, it soon became clear that Acton had something very special to offer. A most welcoming community. Well, 46 years later and I’m still here!
When and how did you start up Bark Club?
I opened the dog grooming salon July 2013.
My daughter had bought a Cavalier King Charles, named Noodle, which soon became my dog upon returning from a year running a guest house in Tuscany. I needed to find a job that enabled me to keep her with me during the day, hence I enrolled in a dog grooming course. Passed my City & Guild diploma. Started to look around for premises on Churchfield Road. There were quite a few empty places for rent but I had my eyes set on the little kennel shaped building across the railway. At the time it was an art/jewellery gallery that seldom was open. When I first saw a light inside the building, I quickly approached the owner. However she was not interested in renting out. A few months later I tried again and this time there was a slight wavering, I had planted a seed. She wanted to know what my plans were but I wasn’t ready to reveal my ideas. On my 3rd and what was to become the final try, she had just gotten herself a puppy. Ha…I got her. A deal was struck, with a promise of free grooming for her pup which I have honoured. Just wished he hadn’t grown so big.
Location is key. With the park entrance right opposite, every dog owner has to pass my place.
I had an unrealistic vision of me sitting outside, cup of tea in hand, chatting to all the locals, but it took off from day one. Its been an on going success with over 1100 dogs on my books to date, and rising….
What do you love about your business?
Although it is an extremely physical job, I get such a kick out of seeing all these wonderful doggies transformed, from what can sometimes border on neglect. Mostly though, the vast majority of dog owners are so loving of their pets, making it a brilliant environment to be part of. I have also met a whole lot of new different people, whom would normally not be in my circle of friends. And that is an extra bonus.
Any funny doggy moments that that you can tell us about?
About a year after opening up, I was in full swing grooming a dog. I could hear some commotion outside, looked out, and saw a couple of women running shouting towards the entrance off the park. At the same instance, in the corner of my eye, I spotted the tip of a tail in my reception area. When I looked over the counter, there were 3 dogs standing there wagging their tails. Somehow they had decided to leave their owners in the park, to come and see me. Most flattering. Luckily the train barriers were down, so no moving traffic. Phew!
What do you love about Acton? Where do you hang out? Places you love to eat.
Acton is a fabulous place to live. People look out for each other without being too interfering. There’s been a lot of newcomers into the area of late, all wanting to establish some sort of improvement.
Place we love to eat? For the extended family…..The Rocket Pub
For a good curry…Balti House, up on Horn Lane (take out)
What type of improvements you are against and what improvements do you think are needed in Acton?
To be able to support what is already there, a cap on doubling/trebling similar outlets (nail bars/hair dressers/cafes) is needed, and new ideas implemented. Come on, we have so much talent in this neighbourhood, surely something exciting can be found. However, Acton is special because of its resistance to major change. Over the past 40+ years, I’ve seen many businesses come and go. Churchfield road and its surrounding area is unique. Let’s keep it that way.
And for goodness sake DON’T call it Chiswick Village/North Chiswick….It’s ACTON!
How has COVID been for you?
So far so good. As a sole trader dealing with dogs (not carriers of the virus) nothing much changed for me. Extra precautions such as not letting people enter the salon, sterilising of equipment and the general increase of cleaning has been tricky but manageable.
Of course, apart from all the obvious hardship etc that many has suffered, a change was needed. About time we were all forced to slow down. To now have all this reduced road and air traffic is a blessing. The other day, I thought I heard mice in the kitchen. Turned out to be the birds singing outside the window
It hasn’t really affected me personally. I live a quite modest life.
How do you feel about the future?
If I’m lucky to be part of it, bring it on 😊
Any big plans or changes ahead?
I want to open a rescue home for dogs.