“A lot of people think that we just wash dogs for a living – it could not be further from the truth. We engage with people’s lives. We have people who are on their third dog now and they came to us when their first dog was just five years old. We’ve called up customers and said: ‘We haven’t seen you in a while!’ and they’ve said: ‘My husband has been ill and I can’t work and we just can’t afford to get our dog groomed.’ And we’ve said: ‘You’ve been coming to us for seven years, come in and we will give you a free groom.’ We just want to help you out.
I got into dog grooming in 2000 when we were trying to adopt a family. When you’re a dog groomer, you can book around family life, so it worked really well. We were lucky enough to adopt children and so I had planned on just having a small home business, but we grew really quickly. As I trained other people to create their own businesses and got to know and love them, I started taking them on as staff as well.
I am a nationally and internationally certified master groomer – I was the first one in New Zealand. There are only fifty nationally certified groomers across the country and six of them are my staff. I also run the National Dog Groomers Association with the founder Sheila Morris and we try to educate the whole industry and raise the standards of education and respect for animals.
Three years ago, I purchased the Posh Pooch Grooming and Daycare business in Howick off the owner who I knew quite well. We had the same ethos around animal care, respect for the animals and doing a great job for a great price. Howick is very diverse; we’re constantly visiting the shops and if I need something, I can run down to Angelique’s. I love going around Howick’s shops – I don’t normally have a lot of time to do that – but when I do the people are so lovely.
We are currently rebranding the Howick business to Angels Grooming to match our other businesses. We have three other salons throughout New Zealand: two in Auckland (Massey and Parakai) and one in Christchurch. We also now have three grooming academies throughout New Zealand to train the next generations up. Our Massey branch has student accommodation. Students can come and stay on site when they are training, which can take from one to four months. There was no one else training in the South Island so we set up a training school down there earlier this year.
We take our staff on personality and experience, and we only take on people who have the same values as us. It must be a business, but to us it’s our lifestyle and being able to portray our thoughts and feelings into the dogs and cats we groom. We have a lot of respect for the animals – whether it’s dogs, cats, rabbits or guinea pigs – we groom them all and treat them the same.
Humanity before vanity is a saying in grooming, so we want to please the customer, but the ultimate customer is the animal. As much as we would like to say that our customer is the most important thing in our world, it’s not. It’s the dog or cat that is the most important thing. It is making sure they’re taken care of first!
Grooming has given me a lot of opportunities beyond New Zealand as I’ve got into the upper echelons of the industry. I travel around the world doing public speaking, seminars, competitions and judging. Every experience – whether it’s representing New Zealand in Spain for dog grooming or grooming Joe Blogg’s cat from up the road – is equally as important to me and all our animals get the same level of care, love and attention.”