Leave the room, your pet's got to groom

Leave the room, your pet's got to groom

Pet-parents, read on to find out how a pet grooming service in Mumbai can take a huge responsibility off of your hands!

Imagine a service which washes away one of the items on your to-do list: bathing the dog! Pet-parents know that this is hugely helpful as bathing a dog also includes cleaning the bathroom after it, wiping the floor the dog has ran off on post-bath and probably also changing the bedsheet on which the damp mischief-maker has jumped up on!

The past few years have seen a remarkable increase in the number of pet-parents turning to professional dog groomers to wash and beautify their floofs. Team BarkButler reached out to a prominent figure in this industry which is worth almost Rs. 100 crores in India. Here are excerpts from the conversation with **Ms. Poonam Thaval **from **White Collar Pet Spa **in Mumbai.

**Team BB: **Tell us a little about the events that lead you to this field of work. **Poonam: **I had been doing a corporate media job for about 8 years when one day, I decided to leave that life behind. My husband asked me what my one true passion was. My answer instantly was “dogs”. I had a retirement plan in place, one of owning a house in Goa one day that was filled with 30 dogs- one for each day of the month! My husband was of the opinion that I needed not wait till I retire to be with something that I loved. So, veterinary was not an option since I am a commerce graduate and I have an MBA. Pet training and boarding services did not fascinate me as I am artistic and creative. I gravitated to dog grooming like a moth to a flame and enrolled myself in international certified courses almost immediately.

**Team BB: **What were your first steps into this industry? **Poonam: **I found myself a mentor in this industry- Janvi Apte Kothari. I took my first steps in dog grooming here and then travelled to Thailand, China and Taiwan where I studied pet grooming. I also won international pet grooming competitions. Currently, I am waiting to complete my A-Levels education in grooming in Japan which will make me eligible to judge grooming competitions globally!

**Team BB: **Could you shed some light on your pet salon (The White Collar) and how business has grown over the years? **Poonam: **I started The White Collar in 2013, after having worked with Janvi and gotten education in the field. I have noticed that the pet care market has grown by more than 20% over the past 6–7 years. While the pet industry in India has grown to a 1000–1200 crore one, pet grooming alone has come to account for almost 100 crores out of that. I have been seeing a heavy and consistent growth in the spa’s footfall over the years.

**Team BB: **What would you attribute the growth of this industry to? **Poonam: **The main reason why the dog grooming world is expanding in India is that the number of dog-pets has been steadily increasing. This has been happening because of the rise of veganism and animal welfare, as well as couples opting for family structures that include a dog in it, as opposed to a human child. With education and exposure, couples such as my husband and myself believe in the freedom of choice of every individual and we are comfortable having just a furry baby. With this the case, a truth also is that everyone is working really hard and is always on-the-go. This is where us pet groomers come into play and it’s why this profession is booming.

Team BB: What is the procedure that is followed once a dog comes into the spa?** Poonam: **We first take the details of the dog from their humans. We as if they have any skin/shampoo allergies and ask the clients if there are any concerns that they want to share with us. After that, the dog goes into the spa, to our head bather. He has an experience of 11 years in this field. He recommends a shampoo for the dog depending on his/her skin. The dog is then passed on to whichever bather is available to give the dog a bath. Post this, the junior-groomers come into play, who dry the dog. Then, senior-groomers give the dog regular hair trims or stylised haircuts. The clients’ word comes first here, but we too make suggestions of what is needed to be done when we inspect the dog.

**Team BB: **What other services do you provide along with bathing and hair-cutting? **Poonam: **When we bathe a dog, we also do teeth brushing, ear cleaning and nail cutting. A special we offer is therapeutic massages for dogs where we use essential oils for issues like joint-ache, skin issues, anxiety in dogs, anti-tick massages. We use different essential oils for different remedies. We also do temporary and permanent hair colouring.

**Team BB: Can you shed some light on basic pet grooming for different breeds? Poonam: **In India, unfortunately, not many groomers know how to groom exotic breeds. I’ve had owners of a Chow Chow who had once gotten their dog completely shaved, on the recommendation of a groomer. And you should NEVER completely shave a Chow Chow as they can get an autoimmune illness. Then, there is something known as a Standard Breed Groom. For example, a poodle is supposed to look a certain way. In that as well, there is a Continental Groom and a Stand Breed Groom. I specialise in grooming Chow Chows, Poodles, Yorkshires and the more common breeds.

**Team BB: **What can customers expect to pay to avail this service? **Poonam: **The cost of our services start from Rs. 1300 and go on to Rs. 4000.

**Team BB: **What are some of the obstacles you face in this field of work? **Poonam: **People don’t understand the skill of this job. It might look like we bathed a dog and returned him/her to the owner. But this also includes proper shampoo selection and implementation of proper bathing and drying techniques. Our country, unfortunately, isn’t used to luxury spending yet and this poses a hurdle as we have to keep justifying our charges.

**Team BB: **How often do you think dogs need bathing? **Poonam: **In Mumbai city specifically, because of the humidity and high pollution levels, I recommend a bath every week. In a European city, once a month would do. And every hairy dog (shih tzu, lhasa apso, cocker spaniel, golden retriever) should get a basic groom every 15 days. Their hair under the paws and in other areas needs to be trimmed so that they can live a comfortable life.

**Team BB: **Have you been in business during these COVID-19 times and what precautions have you been taking? **Poonam: **Yes, we have been working non-stop in these times. One thing to mention first here is that dogs cannot get COVID-19, but they can be carriers. So we do not accept anything that comes with the dog- their leashes, collars etc. We take the dog in with our own leashes. This is to maintain the contactless transfer. We have made a bath mandatory before any grooming begins, as we don’t know where the dog has come from. Our goal is to keep our clients and our on-ground team safe.

**Team BB: **Finally, what do you see in the future of The White Collar? **Poonam: **Opening more branches in Mumbai and outside.


_Poonam’s Contact Details: +91 8080402627, +91 9930402627 Instagram: _ @thewhitecollarpetspa