Get Your Bling On
The extremes of creative grooming may be too much for the average pet owner, but a little bling can go a long way in attracting new grooming clients and encouraging added services.
Go to almost any professional grooming competition these days and there will be a creative styling class. Dogs of multiple breeds will be chiseled with clippers, colored with chalks and shaped with scissors into entirely different animals. Sometimes, they are even transformed to represent other-worldly themes—westerns, SeaWorld or The Simpsons, for example. Groomers and pet owners are increasingly accepting this type of extreme grooming, and it is even becoming popular, especially as it gains attention from the media.
How does this benefit the grooming industry, including groomers who do not necessarily look at a Schnauzer and immediately see The Old Man and the Sea? In a word: publicity.
Abe Geary, founder of Pet Paint, recalls having to defend the use of color on pets when he first started his company. However, he says, the stigma is waning. Pet Paint, a company featured on the television show Shark Tank in November 2013, offers colored pet-hair spray and stencils to create what are essentially temporary tattoos. “These are perfect for people that aren’t sure if they like it or not,” says Geary.
Pets adorned with colored flowers, small hearts or stars, or a seasonal pumpkin can also be great free advertising for groomers, while not being offensive to people who are uncomfortable with dyeing pets’ coats.
“When I developed these [sprays and stencils], creative grooming was something [that groomers] did just for other groomers,” Geary adds. “I wanted to make sure that color was in every groomers’ toolbox.”
Pet Paint offers several colors, ranging from Basset Black to Pug Purple, along with dozens of re-usable stencils. Even dark dogs can be decorated by spraying a white base followed by color. He advises groomers to “paint your own dog and enter it in a local parade, and word of mouth will do your advertising for you.”
Kendra Otto, an international pet styling consultant for Andis Company and co-owner of The Upscale Tail, in Naperville, Ill., understands the value of word-of-mouth advertising. Her salon provides unusual accessories to her clients at no charge. “Someone might come to your salon because of bling—they’ve seen what their friends bring home,” she says. “When you are an upscale salon, you have to follow through with the finishing touches.”
Ties, flowers on collars, and temporary tattoos created with Bark Art blow pens and stencils from Espree are all part of the salon’s signature service. Otto and her grooming friends also have “bling parties” at which they make their own unique accessories using items from craft stores or Goodwill. “You can get two ties and three bow ties out of one tie from Goodwill,” she says. “And we always go the extra mile with safety, making sure everything is breakaway or loose, or tied with Velcro.”
Cat Opson, a major player in the creative styling arena around the country and owner of Capistrano Beach, Calif., salon Estrella Pet Grooming, uses a little bling for her customers as well. Although she has been known to transform a Maltese into a tiger in orange, green and blue, and a Havanese into a panda—both are good advertising—few of her clients want that level of creativity. “I do a lot of feather extensions,” says Opson. “Mostly Pup Feathers. They are not the cheapest, but the feathers are nice looking, and already made up.”
For Standard Poodles, she uses longer feathers from the human cosmetic industry. Sometimes, she’ll add bling in the form of rhinestones between the eyes and down the bridge of the nose. Every dog leaves with a bandanna for boys ands a bow for girls, but extra bling is up-charged. Sometimes she’ll do the first feather free for a holiday or birthday as an introduction, but she charges after that. “It’s a little extra income and only takes five seconds,” says Opson.
She also believes in safety first. She buys bolts of fabric to create bandannas, but cuts them with pinking shears to avoid the risk of fraying. Any bling must be sized for the dog so that choking is not an possibility, and only safe, water-soluble craft glue is used for attaching rhinestones.
Bows and bandannas have long been the mainstay for finishing touches on groomed dogs, and Bardel Bows has been providing groomers with inexpensive, well-made bows since 1989. The company’s assortment includes small bows to place on ears, hips or tails, as well as larger collar bows and butterfly-shaped bows. Bardel also recently introduced six-inch streamers called Bow Fascinators, meant to be added to other bows or worn alone. Bardel understands bows as marketing; the company’s website has an entire page devoted to school-color bows. A salon’s clientele can declare their team loyalty with their dogs’ bow, sure to create talk and attention for the business.
On the high end of accessorizing is Orostani Couture, whose designs are seen from St. Tropez to New York and have been featured in the New York Pet Fashion Show. In addition to pet clothing for all sizes of dogs, owner Olga Yuditsky offers elegant hair bows, clips and headpieces. “Customers are more likely to return if you decorate their dog and may be interested in seeing what other designer options are available,” says Yuditsky.
Bow Wow Bling specializes in offering groomers add-on accessories for their customers. Bow Wow Bling’s Fur Fun Chalk Sets contain a dozen brightly colored chalks that can be used for quick color accents on ears or other areas. The chalk can be used to create any number of designs, such as zebra or leopard patterns, or custom temporary tattoos.
The company also offers Swarovski Elements Crystals to weave into long coats, brightly colored glitters and a handy point-of-purchase display meant to be placed next to the cash register. Founder Lori Roberts has thought out the process of what groomers need, down to offering just the right tweezers to hold crystals while gluing them on, as well as Bling It On! Glue Tubes, a safe, latex free, non-toxic glue safe for use on pets.
Many groomers have experienced the frustration of the pet owner who, although they insist on a bow, does not remove it between groomings, resulting in one large, knotted mat next time the dog is seen. Cathy Tucker, owner of KTW Wraps, LLC, adopted a Maltese show dog and found that she and rubber bands didn’t get along. Using an easy-to-apply silicon tape that sticks to nothing but itself, Tucker developed the Knotless Hair Wrap, which does not break, knot, damage or pull hair, to solve her problem. The wrap is available in colors to match favorite bow colors or in clear.
Products abound to help groomers accessorize and complement their artistic grooming on pets, helping to market the business and show customers how very special their pets are.