Well, hello there.
Yes, it is my very first ever blog post and I never thought I would be doing it. I never thought I would not be doing it either, so here I am. Hello again.
So, many people ask me how is it that I decided to choose a career in grooming and not just any grooming, but FELINE EXCLUSIVE grooming.
Well, it started, heck, a long time ago. I switched careers from a sales and marketing executive at a diagnostics company to…yes, believe it or not, to a feline exclusive groomer. What in the world?!
Sales has been such a dirty word. Believe me, no one ever wakes up in the morning and says, ‘today, I will be the best sales rep in the world’. No one. I graduated from college with Microbiology and Virology. I had great dreams. My mom had bigger dreams for me, and yet, my bills were paid for by a sales job, for nearly 20 years.
Anyone who knows me will tell you I am a perfectionist and I take pride in all that I do. I did so with sales and marketing. I made it my life’s work to study the science and art of sales. Being as competitive as I am, I wanted to be the best. I was the best. I won awards and accolades. I won trips and money was good, but I wasn’t good. I compromised. I compromised myself mostly. On every level. Some of the best sales reps are introverts and I am one. I would rather bury my face in a book rather than speak to someone and yet, my life was focused on speaking to someone and everyone. Selling meant seeing people. Winning awards meant seeing people. Going on trips meant seeing people and well compromising yourself in many other ways. Drinking when everyone else is drinking whether you wanted to or not. Partying when others were whether you felt like it, desired it or not. One compromise after another, as most things in life are, compromises, but this was a special type of compromise. You can only compromise yourself for so long and then you start to wonder why. Why do I do it? What is it that is so enticing about being someone I am not? Change was coming. Two decades later but change was coming.
After a lovely stint with a terrific company and a product I will also remember as the best on the market, mostly for saving my child’s life, I needed a change. I lost my motivation, my desire to win. I refused to believe I was a person who could undermine another and be, not competitive, but cut throat. I would not do well in the reality show called Survivor. So if I didn’t leave, I would be voted off the island. You know that time when you would just rather walk out of the room and never look back. Yup, it was here. I separated. I left. Those people I called friends and colleagues…nada. Not a call, not a text, not a lunch date, hug. No support. I was no longer part of their world and I was no longer needed. That was now my past. I had to find myself.
For a while I thought I could pick back up at a different company and every time I felt like a charlatan. A fake. Everywhere I looked, I saw what was wrong not right with organizations and pay structures and customer service and on and on and on. How could I ask someone to buy from me when I hated it, the process, the product, people I tried to work with?
Soul searching, that was next. I spent long hours, days and weeks writing out pros and cons. Setting an LLC and really throwing darts at the wall to see what would stick. I have a great family, kids, dogs and cats and they had all been lovely and supportive. I had been breeding Siberian cats for a while and showing these lovely creatures took me in a path where I needed to bathe them for shows. Some of my kitten parents asked me to help them with proper coat care, so I was doing some house call grooming where the bath and blow dry happened in the kitchen sink or bathroom. Nothing fancy, weekends mostly.
Still soul searching and one day this lovely, handsome man I am fortunate to call husband, bursts through the door with a bottle of wine in one hand and a grin from ear to ear. Note, my hair is in a pony tail, no make up. Not ready for celebration.
He’s ready to celebrate! ‘To freedom!’ he says. ‘I know exactly what you should do.’
OK, I am all ears. What came next, floored me.
‘You should be a groomer!’ he said.
You know that scratching sound the vinyl album makes when it is ripped off the gramophone/turntable? Insert that here.
For those of you who do not know what a gramophone is, click on the link above.
Not what I expected. I think he is kidding. No maybe he is not kidding. No he is not, as he launches into why. Apparently, standing in line, waiting to pay for the bottle of wine, which is looking way too small for tonight, the lady at the checkout counter was busy complaining that her dog groomer was booked 8 months out. Yes 8 months. Imagine that. Her dog won’t get washed for 8 months, unless she gets in the tub with it and washes that long, matted, dirty hair down the drain. She will have to call Roto-Rooter, because the drain will be plugged. Her back will hurt. She will smell like dog. Fun times!
I don’t think I want to smell like wet dog. That is a special kind of body odor I do not want.
He says, ‘You can do that! It’ll be great. You already wash cats.’
Pause. The things that make you go hmmmmmmm.
It’s like someone just turned on the light. Wash cats. Not dogs, but cats. Yes, I already do that. But that means a lot of things. I have to do it really well. I mean I have to be the best. I have to figure out how to do it efficiently without waste of time or product. So much to do, to figure out pricing, travel, payment. My mind was racing. I hadn’t felt like this in a long time. Excited. Alive. Motivated. More excited. I don’t think I slept.
A lot of research followed.
A lot of practice followed.
I spent the next few months perfecting technique and improving my house calling process. House callers are a fantastic breed of people. Able to work in an environment not suited to their processes and yet most have excellent results. More power to you. Hick up…not for me.
That is when I realized that in order to be awesome at what I do, I needed training. Professional training and I needed to commit. Commit to either mobile or brick and mortar.
Mobile. Yeah I kinda like that. Convenient too, for the owners and the cats. Mobile it is.
So plans were set in motion.
Logo, mobile vehicle, website, payment plans, receipts and on and on and on.
Training. As many will say, there are more ways than one to skin a cat or to bath a cat. I settled on NCGIA. The National Cat Grooming Institute of America. That was my next stop. I liked the process. I liked the discovery, the conversation, the webinars, the clarity and the support.
I have passed tests and courses that would intimidate some folks. I learned to pronounce words many can’t say. For some reason I was nervous about going to school for grooming. I was worried about not passing the written exams. Then I was worried about not passing the practicals. Look, I’ve washed a ton of cats at this point, by my miniscule point of reference. Some mine, some not. In my home, not in my home. Shaved cats. But I never had to pass a practical exam. OK, lab exam. But your hands perform a task and the results and the process of your hands performing the task, that is being judged. By someone else. That task, that art, your hands are being judged. By those who are better. Better that I.
By the way pet owners…~95% of all groomers out there, dog and/or cat, never went to school for grooming. They do it out of love of the animals. I wanted to be that 5% who went above and beyond. I love animals but quality was something I could not pass on. So NCGIA.
July 2, 2016