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Color Me Pretty

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It wasn’t so long ago that putting nail polish on a Poodle seemed quite radical and unique. Oh, how times have changed.

Jerry Shinberg, founder of the All American Grooming Show, has been credited as being the “father” of creative grooming.  It all began when he asked groomers to come up with something a little different for a grooming competition. 

The first creative grooms were unusual patterns clipped and scissored into coats, but the level of creativity has grown leaps and bounds.

Current attendees at grooming shows are riveted to see stylists creating art of the living canvas of dogs, and sometimes even cats. Three dimensional sculptures made with the medium of dog hair and decorated with intense colors bring gasps of wonder from the audience. There is a high level of showmanship involved, with each groomer displaying their work with props, costumes, backdrops and sometimes music.

“It’s very important to make sure the products used on the pets are safe,” Lori Craig, multiple creative award winner, and president of the Creative Groomers Association, said. “Even if the label says it is safe, groomers should research each product themselves. Get MSDS sheets, use the internet to search out the ingredients and make sure that nothing will harm the pet. After that, the most important thing is to have fun. Don’t stress out, even if you make mistakes with your design, it will still be eye catching and your customers will love it.”

The National Association of Professional Creative Groomers offers a creative grooming certification program, with both a written and practical exam.

“The most important things to know is that there is a lot more to know than just what looks good,” Bullet Brown, president of The National Association of Professional Creative Groomers, said. “Canine skin is nowhere near the same as human skin. Products are not magic, it’s called science. Groomers need to know the anatomy of canine and feline skin, and know how products will work with the skin.  That is our biggest concern.  We went to help groomers use the products and get good results, but they need to know the science. No groom on the face of the earth is worth sacrificing a dogs safety.

“NAPCG was developed 4 years ago to educate. The grooming industry is unregulated. Human hair stylists can’t work without a specialized education. The first thing out of pet owners mouths when they see a creatively styled dog is, ‘Is this  harmful to the pet?’  The second thing is, ‘Is the dog embarrassed?’”

Color and Glitter

For stylists who want to try their hand at making the world more colorful, there are easy steps to take.

Queen of Color Dawn Omboy was an early pioneer in the creative ring. She now offers a line of products that are easy to use for novice artists. Blow Pens and brightly colored chalks are simple to apply, and wash out easily.

If adding coat color doesn’t tickle your fancy, you can still jazz things up a bit by adding feather extensions to the pets coat, or spritzing on a little glitter.

“In the month of December, every dog gets a little spray of glitter before they leave the shop,” Liz Czak, owner, Yankee Clipper Pet Grooming and Supplies, in Maine, said. “Our customers love it, we get a lot of reaction from them when their dog comes prancing out and has silver or gold glitter frosting their coat. It is a small, special touch that has a pretty big impact.”

Even painting pets nails has gotten much easier recently, like the innovative new nail pens by Warren London.  They go on neatly, dry super fast and the pens have such fine tips that very intricate designs can be applied by anyone with a steady hand and a creative spirit.

Espree offers a line called Bark Art, which is washable art for pets. It includes blow pens and stencils, nail polish pens and regular nail polish.

Making the Sell

Marketing creative grooming couldn’t be easier.  Color your own dog and bring it to work.  Before you know it customers will be asking if you can do something similar for their pet.

Craig brings her dogs to work and says that people come in the shop just to see what their latest look is.  She also invested in a digital picture frame for her front counter.

“I have it there with a selection of feathers, booty bling and bows,” she said. “I have pictures of all my creative grooms and the frame scrolls through them. Customers love to see the grooms and the frame gets a lot of attention.”

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