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tell us how you got started in grooming

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  • tell us how you got started in grooming

    tought it might be interesting to here how everyone got started...especially for the newbies. like how did you learn..grooming school, apprentice, self-taught, corprate trained, etc....and some of your experiences along the long you have been grooming ...and where you are today.
    i bathed for several years..then i apprenticed for a couple more years with professional handlers..worked in many shops along the way, some good some not so good. i learned many things from both good and bad situiations. my boss and the handlers she sent me to were perfectionists!! people i have worked with have accused me of being one too, so that worked out well..i have my own shop now for about 4 years and am barely taking new customers (B & B and regulars only) i work pretty much alone (a bather when i can find one) so i do miss working with others! i wish i could find another groomer to help me, i'm lonely!!

  • #2
    I started as a kid. My aunt bred German Shepherds and I loved spending time at her place and spent my weekends junior handling at the shows. Then I worked at boarding kennels and grooming shops for many years, and showed dogs (mine and other peoples) on the weekends. 19 yrs later, I finally have my own home grooming business. I can't think of any other line of work that could make me happier. I want to groom dogs till I'm ninety!


    • #3
      I started because I wanted to be able to work out of my home. My husband said "you love animals why don't you groom?" There is a college in the next town that offered a part time grooming program, so I signed up. After completing the Basic and Advanced grooming I got a job at a local kennel grooming and doing kennel work. After I saved up enough money I was able to open my shop in my home. It was the best decision I've made. April will be my 6 year anniversary here!!


      • #4

        Elliemae---You bring up a good point. I am a groomer in training/apprenticeship. When I was researching grooming, it never even crossed my mind that most grooomers or a large percentage of them, work alone. I had always envisioned at least 2 maybe 3 people at the least in my future shop, but now I see that may not be possible and that makes me very sad. I am an outgoing person and I need people contact. And not just "Here is Stinkybutt and what time can I pick Cleanbutt".

        I would like to hear some feedback on this if anyone has any--not trying to change the topic, so please tell us about both.


        • #5
          Well, after graduating from college, I went to South Korea to work for 4 years. When I returned, the job market was not so good in my field (social work), and I have "bad feelings" toward the field of social work anyway, so I really wanted out of that. I took my dog to be groomed once and that's when the thought occurred to me. I used to watch our neighbor in California groom my sheltie, and it enthralled me. I got all bend out of shape when she put him in a kennel (on a warm day, outside) with a heated dryer on him. I was so worried but she told me he was ok. I know better now. Anyway, took Spike to another place to be groomed (PetCo) and I was really having thoughts about it again. Returned from a trip across the US with a friend where I had a LOT of time to think about it during the trip, and called the grooming schools THE DAY I returned from the cross country trip.

          The school I could afford said one student couldn't make it, an emergency, and I could take her spot. I did. She only takes 2 students a month, small school. I get there and ironically the other student was from Utah as well, we were her first Utah students after Lynn Carver died (that's the one school I wanted to attend), and ended up being my boss when she opened a very HUGE, NICE grooming shop here. Pixie, Raggs and I all worked there. SHe provided HydroSurge and Clipper Vacs for each groomer. There were 6 custom-made tubs of cultured marble, etc. Nice shop, always clean, nice kennels, I didn't like the heated cage dryers but they don't use them anymore anyway.

          I quit there to work at a high-end salon that really taught me a lot (I had no problem with that first shop, in fact I am grateful to how good they were to me, but I really wanted to learn more). I was at my limit. The shop I moved on to was ----WOW----very nice, classy, very well-behaved dogs, clean, upscale, and the groomer is the best I've ever seen, could easily win competitions. She had a natural knack for anything symmetrical, everything blended, no lines, nothing. Her husband was good too, he could shave down a dog in no time without a clipper vac, could get the hair off perfectly with ONE swipe of the clippers. They were so fast. That's my goal. So I learned from that but also realized I work better by myself where "I" can call the shots. That's just what I did. I sent my resume' into the animal hospital and they said, "We MAY be hiring, if you don't hear from us in a month, call us back." I was bummed, as my first phone call to them sounded much more positive. 2-3 days later I got a call. For the interview my soon-to-be-boss was shocked; I was (quote) "wearing a dress, and not a half-shirt with your belly fat hanging over." I got a laugh out of that but was glad she noticed my efforts. I groomed a yorkie (Gee, do I know about yorkies?) and got the job.

          I've never been happier, I love my place of employment, love my job, love my clients, and wouldn't go back to social work unless I was desperate! Dogs make much better clients, and they take responsibility for their actions, much more accountable, and don't expect free government services for their lack of desire to DO something in life.

          Tammy in Utah
          Groomers Helper Affiliate


          • #6
            I was kennel manager at a boarding kennel, and one of the groomers was pregnant. I started bathing her dogs and the gradually worked into learning grooming. This was my idea of a job that could pay for veterinary school. Well 15 years later, vet school didnt get finished but I'm still grooming. Now I groom part time out of my house and get to stay home with my little girls. I have left this field many times but always seem to come back to it.


            • #7
              I got into the grooming industry when I was a kid. I was in 4-H and showed goats with a kid whose mother was an NCMG. I ended up working for her on Sundays cleaning the shop. Then I started bathing/drying on Saturdays and whenever I didn't have school. Then eventuallly it was full time. She started showing me how to do CF&F and shavedowns. But she really didn't have time to train me, then she ended up selling the shop and moving.
              After I worked there, I did some other pet related jobs for a couple years..SPCA, kennel and a vet. Then I decided to go to grooming school. Worked for a few different places...couple kennels and corp, then bought a shop from a lady who was retiring. I'm going into my 4th year and dont have any complaints/regrets about it.


              • #8
                I was a vet assistant in a high scale end of town. Loved my job. I hung out with the groomer gals on the weekends and realized thier paychecks were bigger than mine and they worked less hours. So, I asked them to teach me. They took me under thier wings and made me a bather for a year. It was part time so I was still able to work on the clinic side. After a year in training they started to teach me the basics and it grew from there. The best decision of my life.
                I have worked for 4 different salons before I opened my own. That was 6 yrs ago. I do have a part time bather and she is great. My shop is in my home and couldnt love it better.
                I'm a big believer of everything happens for a reason. )


                • #9
                  where'd the time go?

                  I apprenticed under a show/handler/breeder in 1979..I was a bather for a year sitting on a pillow on top of my lil tin trash can! LOL I own my own salon now...and have been grooming since I began. whew...very long time!


                  • #10
                    I got my start working as a tech in a vet hospital. We had an in-clinic groomer whom I would assist part of the time, since she had no helper. I learned A LOT from her. As part of my duties, we would bathe pets, mainly to treat skin conditions and to freshen up after boarding or after they pooped/peed all over themselves! We also did nail trimming and ear cleaning and plucking that were scheduled as "tech appointments". We did shavedowns on matted animals with and without anesthesia. I began studying actual "styling" on my own and began buying my own tools and practicing on the pets that came in. I had a client compliment my work and tell me I should go into the biz for myself and she gave me a tip! I said, good idea!! I used my tax return one year to get a fold up table, dryer and better tools and I began in-home grooming until I saved up enough $$ to go mobile, and also had to get a small business loan. I continue working part time as a tech and part time mobile groomer...this summer I hope to groom full time, I loooove my work!


                    • #11
                      Things move fast

                      I started in a veterinary clinic as an assistant for two years, when one day a groomer came in and asked if anyone was interested in learning. She was a mobile groomer with too many clients and was going to open a shop in another town.
                      I worked under her as an apprentice for over a year, when I finally gave up because I couldn't build any speed and I just couldn't do heads. I told her in July that it was my intention to not touch another persons dog other than my own by September, but in August she found out she had breast cancer and had to go to Duke for treatment. I told her to go and I would figure something out. It was sink or swim--I had to do at least 6 dogs a day to support the shop and her while she was away.
                      I'm a perfectionist, so I learned to do it and do it right. She was the best. I worked for her for about three more years and due to some issues that could have been avoided, I quit.
                      I went back to the veterinary clinic this time as a receptionist for a year and then opened a shop with a girl I had worked with while I worked for her, after she announced she was closing her shop. Now we have been open 2 years in July and we are pretty much maxed out. We are looking for land to build an elite kennel with grooming.
                      I love what I do, I love our clients and their dogs and now we would like to provide them with a safe, warm and clean place to leave their dogs without worry.


                      • #12
                        I ordered a giant schnauzer and when he arrived he came with a grooming video. A friend of a friend knew a groomer and I did an 400 hr. apprenticeship and have been grooming on my own for 7 months now. Love it.


                        • #13
                          I started as a bather/brusher in high school (that was 1988 to 1990) when I gradutated from high school I was all set to start college to study Interior Design when my parents said "We want to move out west, we are selling the house, buying a travel trailer, pulling your two younger sisters outa school, and you can stay here for college at the dorms or come with us!" So of course I went with them, and while we were spending the winter in Longview,Washington (near my Aunt) I was tossing around the idea of attened the local college when I found a grooming school in Portland, Or about 45 mins. away and the course was a little under 6 months long. So I went, and I had a blast! I learned and learned and developed a bad scissor addiction ,which requires me to buy latest, greatest,new expensive, scissors when ever I can! and I even got to travel to Osaka, Japan, to represent the school in their partnership with a grooming school there. Well after I finished grooming school my family decided we really werent cut out for western style winters and headed back home to the south. I moved to Atlanta, Ga, got a job with a wonderfull lady who encouraged me to compete and keep learning ( I even got to teach at her school for a while, and while Im thankfull for the experience, I got my fill of the I just want to play with the puppy types, and it made me sooooo very gratefull to my teachers at my old school in Portland). Now Im opening my own shop and i cant wait! Im even thinking about competing again.
                          Hope this trip down my memory lane wasnt to boring!


                          • #14
                            My dog died.

                            My beloved Russell passed away. I had him since he was six weeks old. I will try and post a picture when I get into the shop on Monday. He was a big black lab my wife fell in love with.

                            At the end of his days (15.5yrs.) she was his Floence Nightingale and never left his side. When he passed she couldn't eat or sleep like she lost a child.

                            I asked our Vet if Beth could come in and be a Vet Tech. He promptly advised me that a Vet tech had to go to school but his groomer needed a bather. So I convinced Beth to take the job. She could always quit if she did not like it but she would be around alot of pets. She agreed.

                            Well after bathing 18 dogs a day for minimum wage Beth would return home each night happy, smiling, singing, energized a different person. She had found her lifes dream job/lifestyle/vocation she loved.

                            So I said to her. Beth instead of earning minimum wage and busting you butt every day for someone else why don't you go knock on doors and tell them you are a groomer and make $25 to $30 a groom, this was 20 years ago.

                            She told me, YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND, you have to go to school to be a groomer. Different cuts, etc, and that the groomer she worked for would teach her. Heard that one before. This groomer has a bather busting her hump for her for min wage she is not going to change a thing. I was right.

                            So, we borrowed $5,000 form Beth's Dad for school and Beth graduated in three months. Great teacher, her name was Iris Paulis and owned A VIP Kennel and Grooming School in Absecon, NJ. She was one of the original Board Members of The National Dog Groomers Association of America.

                            So, again I said Beth instead of earning 50% and busting you butt every day for someone else why don't you go knock on doors and tell them you are a groomer and make $25 to $30 a groom.

                            She told me again, YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND, I can only groom one dog a day and need to work for a good groomer to learn the ropes and get my speed up.

                            So Beth went to work for another great lady who was a one person grooming shop and just happened to be eight months pregnant. After a month of training she left Beth to open, close, bath, groom, schedule and do everything while she had her baby.

                            Well after three months Beth had her speed up and was Grooming like a trooper. Eight to ten dogs a day by herself plus doing everything else at the shop and she still loved it. Nothing like being baptized in fire and brimstone.

                            So again I said Beth instead of earning 50% and busting you butt every day for someone else why don't you go knock on doors and tell them you are a groomer and make $25 to $30 a groom.

                            Well she said again, YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND, I cut her short this time and said, NO You don't understand, I just bought us The Pet Salon we are working tomorrow! That was almost 19 years ago. I became her bather and she eventually taught me how to groom.

                            Beth is an NCMG. We have a Team of 13 dedicated and happy employees and we still love it. Beth says she would rather groom because she wants to rather then because she has to but I have gotten her enough help (another full time groomer) so she can relax a little.

                            Her passion became mine and I invented and developed The Groomers Helper at the shop. I would not trade any one of those years it has been great. We love working together every day and every day is a miracle. Thanks Russell we miss you.

                            Attached Files
                            Last edited by Chuck; 02-05-07, 09:17 AM. Reason: Typo


                            • #15
                              I graduated from high school in May of 2004. The last week in August of 2004 I started grooming school. Then on Dec. 17 I graduated and on the 20th I started work. I rented a grooming area inside of a pet store with a girl I graduated with. So we are co-owners!! She also graduated from high school in 2004. She is from the city we work in and I am 20 min. away. We have been open for 2 years now. We hope to open a boarding, grooming and daycare facility in the near future!! I can't wait.