Can Groom? Award-winning groomer Michell Evans reveals what it takes to become a show-stopping groomer.
Pet Product News: Manyofushavebeenwatchingthetopgroomers workdur-
ing the grooming contests at trade shows all year and marvel at their expertise.
In your opinion, how much of their success can be attributed to innate, natural
talent, and how much of it is just old-fashioned hard work and practice?
Michell Evans: In my experience, it takes a little of both. All talent
takes practice. Musicians, painters and athletes all have to practice
their art and skills. Some people have an eye for grooming, and
some don’t. I, for example, could practice tennis until the cows
come home, and I will never be a world-renowned tennis player. I
am just not wired that way or built that way.
Evans: Fundamentally, a grooming candidate needs a sound body
and endless patience. This is a very physical job that requires a fit,
strong body. Learning to groom is a tedious process that requires
patience and the ability to keep everything in perspective. It is
easy to get too intensely involved with a dog and its haircut. It
takes a person who can decide when a style is good enough and
when a dog has had enough.
to higher standards? Or do groomers still need to raise the bar on standards?
Evans: Today’s up-and-coming groomers hold themselves to a
higher standard because they have endless resources. Back in the
day, groomers had to learn solely from a book with drawings, from
a breeder on their specific breed, from going to dog shows or from
a grooming mentor. It was often a situation where you only knew
what you had learned from one person.
Now, thanks to the World Wide Web, groomers can learn how
to groom anything, anytime, anywhere from multiple sources with
endless options. Basically, they can check their facts. If five of the top
Glen of Imaal terrier breeders, groomers and handlers have information online about how to groom them properly, then a groomer
can combine and compare information and get a much better picture of the breed profile and what is required. They can even do the
work and then ask a mentor in Ireland to critique their work. This
was simply unheard of 20 years ago.
regulatory oversight over the grooming industry. What would you like to see hap-
pen in respect to this over the next few years?
Evans: The whole idea of regulatory oversight is a mystery to me.
I have many thoughts—some for, some against. I am focusing on
being prepared either way. I make sure to run a clean and healthy
business for my clients and my employees. I make sure that my
employees and I are certified and informed. I appreciate the work
that is being done by the World Pet Association (WPA) and others
to stay apprised of regulatory activities around the U.S. It is a huge
comfort to know that if legislation crops up in my area, I have resources for help in navigating the situation. •
Michell Evans is a multi Best in Show and Best All Around winning groomer.
She was a Groom Team USA member from 2009 to 2013. She was a member
of the handstripping Silver Medal winning team in Belgium in 2011 and the
Gold Medal winning team in Spain in 2013. Her business, The Grooming
Tutor, based in Lake Oswego, Ore., has been educating groomers since 2000.
Michell Evans was a
Groom Team USA member
from 2009 to 2013.
Pet Product News: What are the biggest upsides to taking your grooming
business on the road?
Mary Oquendo: An upside is flexibility. We don’t have to be in a
facility at specific hours. This can be really important for accommodating children’s schedules and medical appointments. My
biggest upside is having lunch at any of the various lakes and
trails that litter my area.
Oquendo: The biggest challenge is weather. In the Northeast, it’s
snow. In other parts of the country, it could be hurricanes or heat.
Oquendo: As we do not need the clientele shops do, we can niche
ourselves. Groom what makes you happy and then market to
that group only. Network with other mobiles in your area. Do
not offer any form of discount, and price accordingly. •
Mary Oquendo is a certified Master Pet Tech Instructor, co-owner of
Hands and Paws—Reiki for All in New Milford, Conn., instructor
at Pawsitive Educational Training in Danbury, Conn., and owner of
Pawsitively Pretty Mobile Grooming Salon in Danbury, Conn.