Continuing to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8th, at Entrepreneurs Connect we have asked local women from the Barrie & Surrounding areas to share their stories. Today we are proud to introduce a young entrepreneur, Ainsley Drake. Herself along with Everett Morrison co-founded Alliance Pet Care.

Ainsley Drake, Co-Owner of Alliance Pet Care & MEAT HEADS


What got you interested in working in your industry? What was your trajectory to get to where you are today?
My main interest in this industry is obviously my love of animals. Their impact on my life before and during this time has been immense. I’m so happy to give back to them, even if it’s a small amount of what I feel they do for us. My path, getting to this place, was basically dedication and perseverance. I truly didn’t know where it would take me when I began. I learned a lot of what I know today by starting Alliance Pet Care and I’ve been applying that and learning more with our latest project MEAT HEADS. I didn’t have a set plan of action. I had goals and enough support from my loved ones to carry me to where I am today, and I thank them for that.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of your career? What has been the most frustrating?
The most rewarding aspects so far has been how much I’ve learned about myself and other people. My job and the various roles I have within it have taught me self acceptance as well as acceptance of others. There are many great benefits to being around all animals, and if you’re open to letting them teach you, they will. That being said, it’s definitely not always easy and this could also be the hardest part too. Getting to know yourself and really opening that door can be very difficult, but well worth the frustration.

What is the biggest challenge you have overcome in your career?
One of the biggest challenges I’ve overcome is realizing everyone has to start somewhere, and what that really means. It’s easy to want to give up, especially if you don’t think other people believe in your ideas or value your work. Luckily, I have an amazing support system and I’m able to push past that and realize, it’s a wonderful journey and I should be proud of the big steps I’ve taken but also appreciate how they’ve grown from the smallest ones. If you believe in something, there must be a reason for it.

What advice do you have for other women (or men) who would like to get into a career like yours?
This job is not for everyone but it can be. Working with animals really begins with unconditional love and gratitude. I believe this is what animals give to us, so if you have lots of love to give, just go for it! One of the best parts of this industry is there are SO many avenues; grooming, dog walking, running, nutrition, home care, natural medicine,  retail, you name it. It’s also something a lot of people could do on the side, or even as a hobby! Remember, our pets never ask for reimbursement for the work they do for us! The pet industry definitely has it’s challenges, but like I said you’ll probably learn a thing or two about yourself by being a part of it so really what do you have to lose?

What piece of advice, or tip from a mentor, do you think about often that has helped you make decisions about your professional life?
I come from a family of business. My granddad, Mike Harris, was a major part of starting a company called Gully Company that is now internationally known as Gullco. My dad, Rick Drake, took on his role in the company when Mike passed away. I didn’t so much get tips from them, but just observing the overall attitude and dedication helped me with this venture. My dad let me make my own mistakes as well, which I think is so valuable. So, I guess what I’ve learned from them is: Planning, perseverance, communication, friendliness, integrity. I’m sure there is more to it than that but I know from their work if you make a point of including these aspects to the essence of your business, you too can go global 😉 No doubt these qualities make me a better person in my personal life every day, thank you Mike and Rick.

Can you walk me through a typical day?
My days are varied quite a bit. Because we have 2 businesses, I could be scheduling, walking dogs, doing meetings, going to our store, talking to customers, or all of the above and more! No two days are the same and I really enjoy that, also excited for things to get even crazier when we have our baby in July. Some things that are consistent: Smoothies for breakfast (sometimes lunch too!), supplements/omega 3’s for total health, relaxing/tiding before starting work for the day. Then after work: Try to cook a nice dinner every day that includes a salad, cleaning or doing other chores if necessary or just chilling by listening to music, hanging out with our pets (3 budgies, 2 cats, 2 mice and our dog!) Netflix, books, walking etc.

If you could spend a year studying something, what would it be?
I would probably choose something to do with women’s studies. However, since becoming pregnant I’ve also been very interested in potentially becoming a midwife at some point in my life.

What hobbies or passions outside of work currently occupy your time? Or what project(s) are you currently working on?
Definitely starting a family is my greatest passion at the moment. Thankfully, that genre encompasses so many subjects. Renovating and changing spaces is also a hobby and love of mine, which we have been doing a lot of to accommodate our soon-to-be new addition! I also love being outdoors (go figure). The things I would love to do more of that would be singing, writing and art! And spending even more time with the amazing people that are in my life!

What advice would you give your fourteen-year-old self?
Wow, that’s tough. 14 was definitely a really hard time for me. High school being hard for all those teenage-angsty reasons is cliched, but for me it was beyond hard. Not accepting who I was, or even knowing, made those years very difficult. The one piece of advice that I think would have helped me then seems so obvious now; take care of yourself. I mean this physically, mentally and emotionally. If I had have learned to love and care for myself, I could have shown myself and my peers, family members and friends the same love and care. This, definitely would have changed a lot of things and saved me from a lot of pain. I knew the basic principle of this during that time, but I wasn’t able to understand what it meant fully or how to actually accomplish it. So I guess instead of telling past me, I would have to show the past me everything that was possible, and that I truly do deserve that love and care.