By Andrea Cyrill Khurana*
RUNNING A BUSINESS IS LIKE TAKING CARE OF A BABY; THERE IS IMMENSE LOVE, HEARTACHE AND LOTS OF LEARNING THROUGHOUT YOUR JOURNEY!
As with most businesses related to pets, my journey in the pet industry started because of a void that had to be filled with regards to my own pet. During the monsoon season in 2007 my slightly overweight Golden Retriever, Blip required a raincoat to make it through the Mumbai rains. I searched in every shop around my house but did not find any that fit him right. I eventually decided to make a custom raincoat that fit him perfectly, and that is how the idea of Petsburgh was born! The name was inspired from the word ‘Pets’ for all domesticated animals and ‘burgh’ meaning town or community. The idea was to have a community for pet owners where all their pet related needs would be fulfilled.
Petsburgh was formally launched in February 2008 amidst much fanfare at the Extravaganza event at Grand Hyatt hotel. I teamed up with a NIFT graduate to organise a pet fashion show. The show went off well and Petsburgh had finally set foot in the Indian pet industry.
The company started off with a website providing all kinds of products and services for pets – from food, toys, treats and clothing to finding puppies, mates, boarding kennels and trainers among many other services offered. The idea was to be a one-stop-shop for everything pet related. But along the line, we had to shed some of our excess baggage and concentrate on something that would set us apart in the pet industry. That USP would be professional pet grooming. When Petsburgh pet grooming first started to make a mark, there were very few pet grooming salons in our city. We found a gap in the market that needed to be filled and jumped right into it.
Today, Petsburgh is widely known as one of the premier pet grooming salons in the city. Our focus is not just on beautiful looking pets but humane handling techniques and a deep understanding of the needs of our clients and their pets. This was our motivation behind starting the internationally recognised, Petsburgh Pet Grooming School as well. Petsburgh has taken on the responsibility to train and encourage groomers to operate in a professional and responsible manner while creating beautiful grooms.
Our grooming course focuses on theoretical and practical training needed for prospective groomers to successfully function in the pet grooming community. We have trained and guided a number of successful pet grooming business owners over the past few years and have seen a growth in young and experienced candidates who are interested in this career option.
The most heartening trend that we have observed recently is pet lovers who have successful careers in other fields, taking that leap of faith and starting a brand new career in pet grooming. Some of these pet entrepreneurs come from successful backgrounds in law, architecture, marketing, advertising etc. We are honoured that our students have faith in our methods and are able to find success in their new journey.
While being an animal-lover was always part of my DNA, I did dabble in other career options before finally finding my true calling with Petsburgh. I graduated in Arts and did a course in Fashion Designing alongside my graduation. I then got myself a job as a fashion designer with an export house in Delhi. After working for almost 2 years, I still felt like I needed to be somewhere else. My next stop was travelling to London to study Advertising and Typography. On my return I worked with an advertising agency in Delhi, as a copywriter. I then moved to Mumbai and worked with MTV as a copywriter for a few months before trying my hand at modelling and acting. While I enjoyed all of my career jumps, there was always something missing, something that would hold my attention long enough for me to call it my career. Even being in the glamour field did not give me the job satisfaction I was looking for, though it did pave the way and my bank account for my true calling in the Pet Industry.
In 2008 I decided to go for yet another training course to Australia, but this time it was something that truly made me happy. I trained in the art of Pet Grooming and came back to Mumbai to start the very first Mobile Pet Grooming van in the city. Our competitors could not match the quality of service and convenience that we offered at the time. We had a few unfortunate attempts from unknown miscreants at shutting down our service via malicious means and bad mouthing, but we came out triumphant albeit a little disturbed. We did not let negativity bring us down and kept doing what we had set out to do.
We are truly thankful to our supporters who helped us through our turbulent times. Looking back at my career graph, I do not have any regrets, because everything that I ever studied or trained for and every experience that I have been through has helped me shape my business in the way it is today. Each experience has helped me at different junctions of my brand development.
We are truly thankful to our supporters who helped us through our turbulent times. Looking back at my career graph, I do not have any regrets, because everything that I ever studied or trained for and every experience that I have been through has helped me shape my business in the way it is today. Each experience has helped me at different junctions of my brand development. Today, Petsburgh is a brand that pet lovers can trust. We now provide world-class Pet Grooming, Daycare and Boarding services together with our pet shop in Andheri West, Mumbai. We also run an Internationally Certified Grooming School to teach prospective pet groomers the correct way to handle and groom pets.
I have visited many other educational institutions around the world to upgrade my skills as an International Certified Grooming Instructor and Show Groomer. I truly believe in education and learning. There is always room for improvement regardless of the years of experience or the number of degrees one may collect in their lifetime.
While my journey has been beautiful, there have been a fair amount of ups and downs. Finding and training staff that believes in the same ideology, retaining the right staff, dealing with government officials for permissions in a field that is completely alien to them, and retaining the quality of service that has been promised while handling other day to day issues; are some of the more obvious problems faced while trying to establish a name in the pet industry.
The other side of the battle faced by many people in our industry is dealing with family and friends that do not accept pet grooming or any other pet related service as a viable career option. Crude comments and lack of support can be detrimental in surviving this career choice. Hence, proving yourself to the world around you seems to be even more important. But all of this is set to change, as people are more aware of the importance of pets and their care. The world today is full of stress and drama, and your best friend, more often than not, is your pet! That is one of the top reasons to take care of these selfless companions, and what better way to do that than take them to a trained, qualified professional for their day to day needs.
I have been blessed to be able to withstand all the hurdles that were thrown in my path. It has made me stronger and more resilient to new challenges, and motivated me to keep moving forward. My latest endeavour is the formation of the Professional Pet Groomer’s Association, India (PPGAI) to help groomers around the country. I have teamed up with experienced groomers around the nation to form an association that offers support, education and certification for groomers who are interested in making a career in the field, and for seasoned groomers who are interested in taking their skills to the next level. The association has been set up to encourage accountability amongst professionals who have been given the task of caring for pets in a diligent, proficient and humane manner.
My dream for this lifetime is to make a significant difference in the Pet grooming industry in India through education and support. I believe that compassion for the animals in our care needs to take Centre Stage and that is only possible when there are informed professionals working towards a single goal. I feel like our industry is on the brink of bigger things. India needs to be among other countries on the world pet care and grooming stage. We have the potential; all we need is the right channels to express our talent.
* Andrea Cyrill Khurana is the Proprietor of Petsburgh. She is a Professional, Certified Pet Stylist & Grooming Instructor; and a Certified Show Groomer.