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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Why We Groom – Groomer to Groomer

Assembly and speaking to different groomers about our shared love for this occupation is at all times inspiring. Our business is at present searching for many new keen hearts and fingers who select to care for canine and pets as their profession. So, it’s worthwhile to replicate on what motivates folks to enter the grooming business in hopes that extra aspiring canine lovers will be part of us.

I requested within the “Groomers Information” Fb group, “Why did you grow to be a groomer?” The wide selection of responses shouldn’t have stunned me. A few of these tales have been extremely highly effective and all of them have been heartfelt. Whereas there are lots of paths into our business, a typical expertise of devotion and pleasure empowers us to remain.


In recent times, I’ve had the privilege to get to know Kristina Robertson, proprietor of Barkley Sq., a stunning boutique-style grooming and retail store in Falls Church, Virginia. It was her story of why she opened a canine enterprise that made me understand this column wanted to be written.

Like me, Kristina is the survivor of a earlier dangerous marriage full of home violence. Many individuals sadly marry too younger and to the incorrect individual. It was her canine, nonetheless, that actually saved her life.

She married at solely 21 years previous and knew from the beginning—when he went out to drink on their wedding ceremony evening—that it was already headed for hassle. He drank loads, and repeatedly. At first, he was verbally after which later bodily abusive. His instability was onerous to stay with. They moved fourteen occasions in seven years of marriage. He was at all times pulling her off into some new scheme that later his medicine and consuming would destroy. She was instantly fired from her job as a supervisor of a small enterprise when he got here to her office to indicate off a brand new gun he had simply purchased.

Kristina was heartbroken. She known as her dad and mom asking to come back residence, however not reporting the beatings she had endured. She ended up shifting to Georgia by herself, alongside together with her two rescue canine, Ariel and Sheba. 

Sadly, her violent husband tracked her down and attacked her, beating her badly. At first her canine cowered in a nook of the A-frame home she was renting. She was making an attempt to guard the canine from his anger and begged to have the ability to allow them to exterior. As a substitute, he pushed her so onerous towards the big plate glass window that it cracked. As she collapsed, abruptly Ariel and Sheba leapt to her rescue, turning on the person and violently defending her. They each charged him, biting him badly, even attacking him repeatedly within the groin space (sensible canine). They held him in place so she may escape. She ran to her neighbors, and the neighbors bravely went again to the scene and safely retrieved the canine. 

Afterwards, Kristina simply sat there together with her two heroic rescue canine, hugging them, making an attempt to course of her traumatic shock and realizing that she had survived due to them. She instructed me that she had a profound second of realization, sitting there recovering together with her canine, about how a lot these canine understood; how a lot they mattered to her; how a lot they know and the way a lot they care. She noticed and understood their notion and their feelings. 

Kristina stated to herself then, “You CAN rise above! You CAN get previous this!” From that second on, she would commit her skilled life to the care of canine. 

Kristina Robertson discovered her calling in a second of disaster. Few of us enter this occupation in such a dramatic trend, however having seen firsthand the beautiful store she now owns and runs, and the fierce devotion she has to greatest practices in all issues for these canine, it doesn’t shock me in any respect to see what a hit she has grow to be. Kristina defines her success by what she will be able to do for the canine’ wellbeing, and has accomplished all of it for the love of, and gratitude for, the canine.


In response to my wanting to listen to tales of what steered folks to grow to be skilled pet groomers, some frequent threads have surfaced. In my admittedly unscientific survey, the commonest is a heartfelt love of canine and different animals. The identify of my very own grooming store is Love Fur Canines, an homage to what a rare co-evolved relationship we people have with canine.

Sherilyn Wright reported that she didn’t like working in her father’s chosen occupation, so she took a job as a bather instead, not realizing what lay forward. Then she met and fell in love together with her first ever shopper, Vinny the Australian Shepherd. Vinny was nervous about grooming however, she says, “We bonded immediately. [His mom] inspired me to follow on their pups…I knew from then on that I needed to increase my abilities so I may proceed to bond with, and work with, different hesitant pups.”

Kim Kier’s love for canine grew whereas she was serving to rescue organizations and have become conscious of pet mills and different horrible issues being accomplished to canine within the identify of revenue. She began by promoting collars to boost cash to help rescue work after which moved into grooming. She says, “I can’t consider a extra fulfilling profession selection. We assist the canine and their people to appear and feel fabulous!”


Some groomers instructed me that, after highschool, faculty simply didn’t curiosity them nor was it inside their attain financially. And, extra schoolwork was not interesting after commencement to Emily Brunn, now an ICMG and NCMG. As a substitute, she obtained her dad to ship her to grooming college the place her instructor, Jennifer Cockrum Smith, NCMG, completely impressed her. “I made my father prouder of his funding and confirmed an previous tutorial that faculty wasn’t all the pieces,” Emily shares.

Keely Mae reported that she was in faculty whereas studying to groom, however after attending Groom Expo, she realized the grooming business had a lot extra to supply her. She went on to check beneath one among my favourite groomers, former fellow Illinois Skilled Pet Groomers Affiliation Board Member Kathryn Simard, who stated she started her unintended profession working as a vet tech. She struggled with the “gross elements,” so the veterinarian inspired her to attempt grooming as a substitute. She says now, “Thanks, Dr. Flood, wherever you might be!”

4H applications are sometimes the place the place younger folks first encounter grooming, as did Martha Cronin Bolin. Others come from the human cosmetology coaching world, like Christine Herrera, who says she “discovered her ardour with pet pores and skin and coat restoration.” 

Chelsea Olivera was working at a big-box pet retailer whereas learning to be a vet tech. She tried actually nearly each job within the retailer. None have been an incredible match for her till the Common Supervisor recommended she attempt grooming. “I instantly fell in love. It was the right mix of working with animals, artistry, and customer support…an enormous thanks to the superb GM who pushed me out of my consolation zone and helped me discover my eternally profession,” beams Chelsea.

Jenna Brooks stated she opted for grooming when “being socially awkward made working with folks tough.” I assume many individuals in our business choose working with animals over working with folks.


Main aggressive groomer and fellow Chicago-area resident Nicole Hillson-Hernandez stated, at first, grooming was nothing greater than that she simply wanted a job, any job. She grew up on a farm and knew easy methods to work with animals and liked them. Whereas her dad and mom discouraged her from grooming, urging that it was not a ok dwelling, she has proved them solely incorrect. Grooming has turned out to be one thing she will not be solely gifted at, but in addition one thing that makes a great dwelling.

Kelly McKinley’s mother was a groomer, however that was extra a deterrent than incentive for Kelly. She undoubtedly didn’t wish to examine for her profession beneath her mom, so she took a job with one other groomer who skilled her, as a substitute. “Now I can’t think about doing the rest for the remainder of my life!” Kelly studies.

Lori Spiroplaus-Michelon labored within the jewellery business. Her sister was a groomer and taught her. Lori says, “I needed a job the place I may use my artistic abilities, and this was it!”


Some left different careers in mid-life that now not introduced them that means or held their curiosity. Christine Ann discovered her twenty-year profession in enterprise bored her. She owned two Bichons and a Maltese and loved brushing and styling them at residence, so she determined to attempt grooming college. Now she says, “Every day is totally different, however my drive, ardour, and super love for canine retains me going each single day.”

Robert and Cindy Leveck Orta retired after thirty years of instructing center college math. They needed to assist puppies get adopted in order that they discovered to groom. Now it’s their life.

Jennifer Miller spent twenty years working in authorities administration. Her sister-in-law had a profitable cell grooming enterprise a couple of hours away from the place she lived. So, she purchased an old-fashioned bus and discovered some onerous classes about mechanical points in chilly climate, however she says, “This has been the perfect factor I may’ve ever accomplished for myself and I’ve zero regrets. #MustLoveDogs.”


Tanya Sue Knapp obtained a job as a bather at a big-box retailer, by no means meaning to make it her profession. However she noticed a groomer doing a completely lovely profile trim on a Golden Retriever and determined she needed to have the ability to do this.

Leslie Bordelon equally didn’t intend to start out this profession. She says, “There was a job open for a bather and to be taught to groom. I wasn’t actually seeking to be a groomer, however after only one month, I used to be in love. I loved watching the grasp groomer and I liked studying. I’ve at all times been a canine lover, and on the time I used to be fostering 35 puppies for a rescue. It has been eight and a half years now and I’m so grateful that I took on a totally totally different profession than I needed. I like working with the hard-to-handle canine and puppies.”

Grooming will be for thus many, because it has been for me, a life-long love affair that we by no means wish to depart. Kelly Montfort says, “It’s nonetheless FUN twenty-two years later. I’d need to say that managing shopper expectations, setting wholesome boundaries, and being cell are why I nonetheless take pleasure in my job.”


Possibly whereas studying this you could have mirrored on what motivated you to grow to be a groomer. Contemplating the necessity we have now to develop our occupation, at all times be prepared and keen to share your story and artistry with anybody who may pay attention. One of many necessary takeaways from all these tales is that we by no means know when somebody is perhaps seeking to make a profession transfer—they might not even understand it themselves—however listening to a motivating story from somebody such as you, who loves what you do, might be simply what conjures up the following individual to enter our occupation. ✂️

Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins, MA, ICMG, PGC, CCE

Jennifer is the proprietor of Love Fur Canines in Glencoe, Illinois, and was named Finest Groomer in Chicagoland by the Chicago Tribune in 2015. Jennifer is an award successful educator and has been a Grasp Groomer since 1985. Jennifer is a retired schoolteacher who has dabbled within the canine present world for forty years, the place she discovered to groom. Jennifer based the Illinois Skilled Pet Groomers Affiliation. She is the writer of the acclaimed “Groomers Information To The 15 Coat Varieties” seminars, and a poster and guide of the identical identify. Her academically wealthy webinars will be discovered by visiting her web site at www.groomersguide.com.

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