By Radhiya Hemchandra
It all started from home. I grew up surrounded with pets all my life – being the younger daughter of Ms. Yashodhara Hemchandra, an All breeds International Dog Show Judge, and Owner of India’ s leading kennels ‘Yashbans Kennels’ for the last 40 years, it is quite self-evident. I had access to over 110 show dogs and many injured and abandoned dogs, cats, small animals and birds. It was only natural for me to acquire the love for nature and conservation of the environment. Since I was a little girl, I loved nurturing and taking care of abandoned and injured animals. I intently watched my mom exhibit her dogs in dog shows and groom them. Being interested in this field, I trained and showed dogs at these dog shows as well, and began to grasp the requirements for dog grooming in terms of presentation and breed specifications.
Pet grooming was a concept that was not introduced to India at that time. However, my mother, who used to travel the world for International dog shows, acquired the knowledge of grooming from this global exposure. She would groom our dogs at home and would let me assist and watch her as she groomed them. A lot of her expatriate friends would also bring their dogs over for grooming as she was the only one who could groom according to breed standards. I would get tips from some of her clients and friends for assisting my mother while she groomed the dogs and that inspired me to learn more and work in a more efficient manner. I had a keen interest in this subject and wanted to learn to get better at this art form. This influenced my mother to start a Professional Grooming Parlour in Bangalore, called The Pet Grooming Parlour, in the year 2002.
Since I was quite young, my mother got me educated in basic professional grooming techniques, initially from the USA and then from South East Asia. She told me that if I was interested in furthering my knowledge and expanding this passion for pets into a business venture, then one day I could start a Grooming Parlour of my own.
On the First of October 2006, I started my very own Grooming Parlour called Fuzzy Wuzzy Pet Styling Studio and Spa. The inspiration for the name came from one of the first dogs I ever groomed. It was a Labradoodle (a mix between Labrador and Poodle) and I thought to myself “What a Fuzzy Wuzzy Dog!”
From then on I decided that if I wanted to be the best at what I did, I would have to learn the different requirements in grooming and how it was applicable in India and the dogs that were available to us.
Fuzzy Wuzzy also started India’s first ever Pet Grooming School where students get hands on practical grooming classes on different breeds of dogs as our school is backed by Yashbans Kennels. Practical and sedation-free grooming on cats was also taught as I had about 40 cats personally – some Persian cats and some mixed breed. We started educating others who were interested in this field to opt for a career in Professional Grooming, and do what they loved that is being associated with pets.
Fuzzy Wuzzy also offers International Pet Transportation and provides hassle-free and safe travel for pets across the globe. We have also conducted India’s first Professional Pet Grooming competition which was judged by reputed International Judges. This encouraged other groomers to explore their capabilities and motivated them to learn better grooming methods.
I knew that this was a vast field and since pure exotic breeds, like Poodles, Bichons and Terriers were not available to groom, I decided it was best to further my education and learn more grooming techniques. So, being a Professional Pet Stylist, I returned to America to study to become India’s first and only International All Breeds Certified Master Groomer.
I am proud to be on the Editorial Subcommittee of the Indian Kennel Gazette, where I contribute articles on a monthly basis to help educate dog show owners on how to maintain their dogs in prime condition. I am also on the Committee of the Rottweiler Club of Bangalore, a Member of Karuna Animal Welfare in Karnataka, Silicon City Kennel Club, Society of Indian Breeds and the Indian Cat Federation. I had also started the initiative “Be good and do good” to encourage feeding and providing water for stray animals and abandoned pets across the city.
I have personally recorded and groomed over 7000 dogs and cats professionally, other than our own pets, over a period of 13 years and continuing. I have taught over 132 students from different countries, who then went on to set up their own grooming businesses. I understood that grooming is primarily related to the requirements of Breed Standards and the climatic conditions that the pets reside in. Most pet owners were unaware of the correct and proper grooming methods that would help their pets stay safe and healthy. As a professional, it is extremely important to practice ethical and correct pet grooming techniques.
Grooming as a business was challenging as it required to equip myself with the best available education in this field and to teach pet owners why they need to get their pets groomed professionally rather than at home. Maintaining the quality of service and investing in the right products have always held the utmost importance in my eyes. I decided to charge my clients according to the skin & coat condition and the size of the pet.
As India’s premier Pet Styling Studio and Spa, we provide different services for pets that include Maintenance Grooming, Creative Grooming, Show Grooming and Corrective Grooming. The only challenge I’ve faced so far was when the pets were aggressive or difficult to handle. This behaviour has always been a result of not understanding the requirements of the pets in question. However, after spending a number of hours with pets and learning pet behaviour tactics, this hurdle was soon overcome.
Many grooming parlours have been set up since then, a lot of which are by my own students. It’s very necessary to have certified groomers groom pets to understand the safety precautions needed while grooming dogs and cats so that they feel comfortable and safe.
Sadly, there are a lot of people who do not come from a pet background and set up grooming parlours purely for financial benefits with everything strategically planned and without properly trained groomers. This could create a lot of problems for pets both emotionally and physically. However, these grooming parlours don’t survive in the long run.
Travelling the world for various grooming shows has taught me a lot, allowed me to update myself on the latest trends, and keep a check on the requirements to run a grooming parlour successfully. Procuring the best equipment and learning the correct techniques of grooming pets in a calm and safe manner were always my top considerations.
Although there are various ways of advertising and marketing, I believe that word of mouth promotion that is having your work speak for itself is the only thing that will help you improve and be successful in this business.
Being in this industry for such a long time also inspired my entrepreneurship skills and with extensive research, I started a professional range of pet grooming tools and products under the name Fuzzy Wuzzy, and a pro grooming range of pet grooming tools and products under the name Funky Furz. These brands are suitable for both loving pet owners as well as professional pet groomers to make sure that their pets are groomed safely and to perfection. These tools are available in leading pet stores and online on our website www.funkyfurz.com
We plan to expand our area of specialisation in 2020. We aim to make these grooming tools, products and educational seminars easily available to help pet enthusiasts get educated on the ethics of grooming and the pet grooming business. This will help create alternative career options with the possibility of designing and running their own enterprises. We will ensure that every pet parent in India has the best quality products and services available in a city near them.
Author is an International All Breeds Certified Master Groomer and Professional Pet Stylist. She is also the Founder and Owner of Funky Furz range of pet grooming products and India’s premier pet grooming salon Fuzzy Wuzzy Pet Styling Studio & Spa.