Meet QC Pet Studies graduate (and current student), Katherine Farris. Tell us a little bit about yourself, Katherine!
I am a single, working mom carving out a healthy, positive, and stable lifestyle for my little family. I’m honestly astonishing myself as I trailblaze, and build from the ground up my own business that I dreamt of 5 years ago.
When (and why) did you realize you wanted to pursue a career as a dog groomer?
Wherever I have traveled, my love for pets has followed. I have a diverse background in several different sectors, such as:
- The Arts and Design;
- Customer Service and Sales, etc.
However, the Pet Industry has always been home base. Wherever I went while pursuing my degree, I would land a job at a kennel/boarding facility and/or a grooming salon. I then realized I was looking for a career in all the wrong places… When my true career was looking at me dead in the face!
Why did you decide to pursue your certification training online, rather than in-person – and how did you both hear of QC Pet Studies?
I actually did both. At the time that I’d just been promoted from Bather to paid training Groomer position, I also decided to enroll in QC Pet Studies.
I am very studious. While I do believe grooming is mostly a trade skill that requires visual learning and hands-on application, I still believe it does set you apart in the eyes of the client to take the extra mile to earn the certificate. Plus, I also wanted first aid training and loved that QC Pet Studies offered both!
Why did you choose to enroll with QC Pet Studies? (E.g., What was it about our school that won you over, compared to other online dog grooming schools out there?)
I really loved that all of the textbooks and videos were available online, as well as the fact that QC provided me with my own groomers starter kit (with clippers and scissors). That was a huge help! Moreover, QC Pet Studies is affordable and I loved the curriculum outline.
You’ve successfully completed our First Aid for Groomers Course. What was the biggest lesson you learned from this training?
I knew a little of the procedures from my time working in Boarding and Kennel Technician jobs, but I truthfully loved learning about CPR!
Do you believe that all dog groomers should be properly trained in canine first aid? Why or why not?
Unless one offers grooming services within a vet clinic, I do believe groomers working independently should know the basics of first aid. The probability of an accident is too high, no matter how much training you have in place to prevent those situations from arising! Therefore, it doesn’t hurt to have that training in your back pocket.
You’re also currently enrolled in QC Pet Studies’ self-paced, online Dog Grooming Course. Tell us how your experience with this program has been so far! Did you face any particularly difficult challenges – and how did you overcome them?
I definitely am back pedaling, but I am determined. Life launched me into opening and operating my own business almost right after I’d finished my hands-on training for a mobile groomer I was working for. (They’d shut down their grooming portion of the company.)
I was left trying to come up with a quick solution. Fast forward a year and a half later, and I am trying to finish my grooming certification training after the success of my business took off full-speed ahead! Becoming a certified professional groomer is a goal I’ve had for 5 years, and so I would really like to accomplish it completely.
My challenge so far is time and improvising, as I do not have a camera man. I am not a huge presence on social media – and some may even say I am technologically challenged (haha!). So, having the right lighting, equipment, and angle of the camera is my current hurdle that I am trying to overcome at the moment.
How would you describe your style as a dog groomer?
I think it is too soon to say. I’m not sure I have a style yet; it’s up and coming.
Why did you decide to start your very own business?
Without getting too personal, my toddler’s dad and I split literally a month after I’d lost my job and started my own business. That landed me in a cumbersome place. My overhead was high with my toddler in school, 3 fur babies, and basic expenditures…
I needed to embody a two-partner role and be both the mom and the dad. Not to mention, I needed the income along with a flexible schedule. As most moms know, our kiddos (especially young kiddos) get sick almost every other week. So, I also needed a safe place where I could bring my toddler to work with me.
I figured, the only way I was going to be able to achieve that was to start my own business. So, I quit the small, local job I was working for in-between ideas.
From there, I started grooming neighbors dogs. I made flyers, a Facebook page, and business cards… And within two months, I was fully booked! I’ve now grown to offering grooming services, pet sitting, pet concierge, and offering in-home grooming services.
What’s the story behind the name of your business, The Fluffy Puppy?
Honestly, I think it was a passing comment and I stopped and thought, “Hmm, that would be a cute name for a business…”
And boom! I manifested it.
It came to me after I’d finished grooming Jade, my Australian Shepherd (often times referred to as Pooh Bear on my Instagram page). She has been my inspiration for so many side projects, and she’s actually been my guinea pig in my grooming career. I absolutely love how fluffy she gets after she’s all clean and blow-dried…
The word “fluffy” just sounds so clean and glorious. It’s perfect marketing for grooming!
What were the most challenging parts about launching a brand-new business as a dog groomer, and how have you been overcoming these challenges?
Maintaining faith, patience, and commitment – because everything else is a product of having the will to accomplish it!
For example, let’s say that the bank account gets low. To maintain faith and patience, remind yourself that you will soon benefit from the fruits of your labor. From there, make the commitment to continue to grow; to show up for yourself.
Starting up your own business is challenging enough (that goes for any business). My whole life, I watched my parents start up several different businesses. Some were successful and the market welcomed them – whereas others weren’t so lucky, which was a bummer.
But I am thankful to have had those insights and advantages, in order to apply to my own business.
In your opinion, what are the most rewarding aspects of owning/operating your own business?
The most rewarding aspect is knowing my hard work is providing for my daughter. I built the life I wanted and needed: the balance and blessing of being as close as I can get to being a “stay-at-home mom”, while also being a “working mom” at the same time. I work from home and have a flexible schedule where I can earn what I need, but also take the time off and be able to afford it.
This way, I’m able to make valuable memories!
Tell us about the different types of grooming services that The Fluffy Puppy currently offers clients!
Currently, The Fluffy Puppy offers:
- Spa Treatments: Stress-Free spa package for your scared, shy pup, which includes a nail trim, ear cleaning, bath, and towel dry;
- Fluff Up Treatment: Bath, facial, blow out , ear cleaning, nail trim, and brush down;
- Let the Fur Fly: The add-on service to Fluff Up treatment (De-shed);
- Face, Feet, and Fannie: Bath, blow out, brush down, facial, ear cleaning, nail trim, face trim, paw pad trim, and sanitary trim;
- Full Groom – One Length All Over;
- Full Groom – Custom/Breed Standard;
- Doodles & Poodles Full Groom;
All of my Full Grooms incorporate the bath, blow out, facial, ear cleaning, nail trim, sanitary trim, and paw pad trim. I also charge a de-matting fee, as well as offer a nail trim ONLY service.
Moreover, I offer a pet concierge to senior citizens who are no longer able to drive. As part of this service, I go and pick up their pet, bring them back to the salon, groom them, and then return them home to the client.
I also offer in-home groom services to select clients (e.g., ranch dogs, senior citizens, family and friends, etc.). Lastly, on top of that, I offer Pet Sitting Services (both drop-in visits and overnight stays).
Pro Tip: Want to add dog daycare services to your grooming business? Become a trained and certified International Dog Care Professional™ (IDCP™) in as little as 3-6 months with QC Pet Studies’ self-paced, online Dog Daycare Course!
Sometimes, prospective clients are hesitant to hire a professional dog groomer because they’re convinced that they can groom their dog at home. Therefore, they might argue that hiring an expert is a waste of money. Can you tell us, in your own words, why you believe hiring a professional dog groomer is worth the cost?
I usually ask them, when they are grooming their dog at home, what kind of tools are they using? Are they also on the floor with their pet, holding them by the collar? Maybe the dog is on a leash and the owner is chasing them around in a circle, just desperately trying to clipper their face/body/feet?
Furthermore, are they making their dog sit and outstretching their paw with their glasses on, trying to stay focused on where the quick is? Imagine that they have a shaky hand, the dog is getting impatient, and all of a sudden, it’s a crime scene all over the carpet…
(Or heaven forbid, they’re attempting the infamous peanut-butter-on-the-head-trick!)
All this to say, my point is that a professional groomer is the safest option because it is our HIGHEST priority to keep their pup safe – while making them feel their best at the same time!
Do you remember your very first professional grooming job? Tell us about it! What did you learn from it, what went well, what didn’t go as planned, etc.?
Shampooches. I was a bather and given the opportunity to be a groomer’s assistant. This was back in early 2019, I had never groomed a dog before. In fact, I was just starting to polish my bathing techniques and solidify a thorough foundation for the bath process.
I was really excited! I started with advancing tasks from baths, to all the prep work required before the groom, sanitary trims, paw pad trims, ear cleaning and plucking, nail trims., etc… And then it came crashing down.
I accidentally cut a dog because they moved their leg mid-cut. My mentor said to take a break, but to come back and finish the dog. I was terrified that I was going to cut the dog again. I initially thought I wasn’t going to touch him again, but I did it anyway.
My mentor said, “If you let fear stop you from progressing forward, it will ruin your career.”
And she was right! The truth is, ALL groomers – no matter age or experience – have (at least) cut a dog at some point in their career. But it does not speak badly about the groomer. We are working on hyper, energetic, happy (and maybe not-so-happy) pups.
The likelihood of cutting a dog is bound to happen… Which is where learning first aid became a priority for me!
What are your business strategies when it comes to: finding/attracting clients, marketing/getting your name out there, networking, etc.?
My strategy… Honestly, I’m not that analytical! I’m blessed with starting up a business in an up-and-coming town. At the time, there was a high demand for groomers, and honestly, I still believe that to be true.
I will say, though, that knowing the right people is a huge help. Specifically, having great connections with other business owners to pass out your business cards to and get referrals from. Oh, and social media, too!
You’re located in Georgetown, Texas – a relatively large city with a population of over 92,000 people. In light of this, how are you (1) making The Fluffy Puppy stand out from the competition, and (2) attracting your target demographic successfully?
Word-of-mouth has built my business. I am not joking when I say that! I’m astonished and so blessed.
I’ve had people tell me they heard about me from a friend-of-a-friend, a review on their friend’s Facebook page, a veterinary clinic that I had never heard of before… I’ve also been blessed with great connections for networking.
I created two flyers and posted them at local stores that receive a lot of foot traffic. Then I gave my business cards to a friend who owns her own high-end dog and cat feed store. Also, I groomed a friend’s dog that was highly involved in community relations and networking within Georgetown.
Seriously, word-of-mouth is a priceless marketing platform!
What do you love MOST about working with dogs?
Dogs are the best therapists and coworkers!
What’s your favorite grooming service to offer and why?
Silhouette Trim with a De-shed treatment (specifically on Aussies). My art professor once told me I am very linear-brained – meaning that I love structure and definition. Creating sharp, clean edges and being able to pluck the dead coat out like cotton candy… Talk about overly satisfying!
We know it’s practically impossible to choose – but do you have a favorite dog breed? What about this breed makes them your top fave?
Aussies, of course! But I’m just being biased.
What advice would you give to other dog groomers out there who dream of starting their own business?
There will never be a “right time” for anything. Trust yourself, show up for yourself, give yourself grace, and enjoy the process. Just when you feel like quitting, take a break (and maybe have a good cry – don’t worry, your furry client will lick those tears away faster than you can make more of them.) Smile and keep going, because this world/ life doesn’t stop for anyone!
Why do you feel it’s important for dog groomers to have professional certification training?
When I was struggling with this question in my life (to be certified or to not be certified), my mentor looked at me and informed me that it’s not a requirement for groomers to be certified… But that doesn’t make it right not to have one.
There have been too many fatal accidents in the industry that have resulted in the injury (and even death) of dogs. Because of this, the grooming industry might one day start mandating that we all go back and receive properly certified, accredited training. After all, our society has married education and experience together as a requirement for most careers.
So, I might as well get as much education as I can!
As a QC Pet Studies graduate, would you recommend QC’s self-paced, online certification training to others who dream of a career in the dog industry?
Yes! I proudly and highly recommend QC Pet Studies!
To date, what do you consider to be the proudest moment for The Fluffy Puppy so far?
For the last year, I have had a steady flow of clients and have been fully booked for several months in advance. That is a HUGE accomplishment, especially since my business is so young!
What’s in store for you and The Fluffy Puppy this year and beyond?
First, earning my International Dog Grooming Professional™ (IDGP™) certification with QC Pet Studies. Second, I would like to make bigger, better upgrades… But that will be a surprise!