Tell us about your pet grooming background.

Since I was a young girl I have always loved dogs and cats. Here is the journey that has led me to where I am today: My first job in the pet grooming industry was when I was 14 years old. I was hired as a dog washer for a local groomer. Fast forward 10 years and I own my own home based pet grooming business.

Here is a quick peek at what happened in between: A few years after my dog washing job I discovered a love
of graphic design and worked in that field until I was 19 years old. When my family moved to Grand Rapids,
MI I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. The next logical step would be to take graphic design classes at a local college. The week before I was going to enroll I drove past Paragon School of Pet Grooming and was reminded of everything that I loved from many years before. Within two weeks I had enrolled and started a month later.

I loved working with the dogs at school. However, when they asked me if I wanted to groom cats I said “of course.” I loved my cats growing up but never thought you could groom them or knew that they needed grooming, because “cats groom themselves” right? Wrong! Unfortunately, during school I was only able to groom a few cats as opposed to a multitude of dogs. After graduating I got my first grooming job at a pet salon and worked mostly on dogs. I only groomed a couple of cats but wasn’t allowed to wash them, as that was the salon’s policy. After working at the salon for almost a year I felt I wasn’t reaching my potential due to the fact that this salon (which is now closed) didn’t have good leadership. I was able to learn a lot of things that I didn’t want to do when I started my own business.

I started my own home based salon from the bottom up, starting slowly, with a lot of time on my hands AT FIRST. I was very thankful for my graphic design background as I created my own business cards, website, and marketing materials for myself. When I wasn’t grooming I started going door to door, attaching first groom discount postcards to people’s front doors (with a little help from my grandma and mom). I loved all of the compliments that I got from people: “this is the best my dog has ever looked,” and similar comments. I made this work to my advantage and started offering a $5 referral fee to my clients. My business grew more month-by-month and I fell more and more in love with grooming each day.

My business was growing and, after being in business for 6 months, I started receiving more and more calls for cat grooming.
I groomed a few but wasn’t very confident as my experience in grooming cats really wasn’t that vast. I wasn’t happy with my results or my confidence level. The cats were quite a challenge for me, and I had quite a few battle wounds. I had heard rave reviews about the NCGIA and decided to check out their web site. I was hooked. I wanted to become a Certified Feline Master Groomer and signed up for classes starting October 2012. I loved the course and felt my confidence grow by leaps and bounds. I was confident enough to start advertising my cat business as heavily as I did my dog business. I love grooming cats now as much as I do dogs. My Soft Paw business is a hit, and I not only offer them for cats but have added this as an option for dogs also.

In 3 1/2 years I have grown my business from a few clients to over 500 clients, grooming 6 days a week with a majority of my business being dogs and approximately 2 – 4 cats a week. I love what I do everyday, and I am so happy I made the decision to groom both cats and dogs.

What led you to attend the National Cat Groomers School and what month/year did you graduate?

I heard about the NCGI through Paragon School of Pet Grooming in Michigan after grooming a few cats on my own and feeling unsuccessful in both the quality of the cat grooming work and my horrible handling skills. I knew I wanted to be the best I could be, and I wanted to grow myself and my grooming skills. I did just that and graduated a CFMG in October 2012.

What did you do with your NCGI education once you returned back home after graduation?

After returning from the NCGI I came home and purchased all of the necessary equipment that I needed to be successful. I then added cats to my website and went to vet offices and handed out my cat grooming information. While dropping off my information at one of the local veterinary offices, I connected with a vet who now refers cat clients to me for their grooming needs on a regular basis.

What skills or knowledge did you find the most helpful in your endeavor?

For me knowing how to handle a cat successfully without injuring both the cat and me was huge. I have definitely saved myself from many bites and scratches because of it. And knowing different positions of how to groom cats in certain areas has made grooming so much easier and enjoyable because I know what I am doing.

What are your future plans or goals for your cat grooming business?

My plans by next year are to grow and expand my cat business by having a separate area just for grooming cats. I would love to get to the point of having cat-only grooming days in the future.

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