Rene loves dogs. So much that she spends most of her time surrounded by them. Rene can be found bathing, grooming, and just hanging out with dogs at Kuts ‘n Kisses Salon in Shelby Township, Michigan—oh, and did I mention that she owns the place?
Kuts ‘n Kisses is a bustling, full-service grooming salon. The front of the business contains a boutique area with outfits, collars, and leashes for sale. Behind the counter though, is where all the action is. There, dogs are bathed, groomed, and photographed. When they aren’t up on the grooming table, they’re running around playing with friends or catching a nap at one of the numerous resting areas.
Rene was kind enough to have a chat with us after a long day of grooming to discuss the dog grooming business.
AJ: How did you get interested in the dog grooming business?
Rene: Before I started grooming dogs, I actually worked as an office assistant for many years. I was laid off five years ago during the economic downturn. My husband encouraged me to do something I loved. Well, I love dogs! So, I went to grooming school, and loved it. I worked at a grooming salon for one year and then opened Kuts ‘n Kisses.
AJ: That’s awesome! Do most dog groomers go to grooming school? Are there other ways of getting into the business?
Rene: Not everyone goes to school. Some people learn by apprenticeship.
AJ: How long has Kuts ‘n Kisses been open?
Rene: Three years now.
AJ: You recently opened a doggie day camp, Barks n’ Recreation. For those of us who don’t know what that is, please explain.
Rene: Doggie day camp is a kennel free, supervised play experience for dogs.
AJ: How did you come to the decision to open Barks ‘n Recreation? What was that experience like?
Rene: When I decided to leave the salon I was working at to start out on my own, I wanted to make it a completely cage free experience for the dogs being groomed. That is the one thing I didn’t like about being a groomer—I enjoyed being with the dogs while I was grooming them, but then for the rest of the time they would be kept in cages. We opened Kuts ‘n Kisses as a cage free salon. When the dogs are not being groomed, they are allowed to play with us or the other dogs. Well, eventually we ran out of room for all the dogs running around! We needed more space so we expanded and opened Barks n’ Recreation.
AJ: What is your daily routine like?
Rene: (Laughing) All I do is work. I groom all day. Then I come home and eat dinner. After dinner I do any paperwork that is needed and I upload all the photos of the dogs from the day to Facebook.
AJ: Tell me more about the photos?
Rene: The photos and Facebook updates are two things we do that no one else does. We take an after photo of each dog we groom. We print the photo to give to the owner and we also upload it and tag them on Facebook. We started out just taking a simple picture. But, a lot of our dogs only come in every six weeks or so—so their owners would just get the same photo each time. That’s no fun! So, we started doing themes with props and everything. We even have a little area now with a background for taking the photos.
Our customers love it.
AJ: What is the most challenging part of your job?
Rene: As a groomer, nothing! I love everything about it. As a business owner, being a boss is challenging. I have never been a boss or manager until now. I am used to being everyone’s friend. It is hard to be both a friend and a boss.
AJ: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Rene: The rescue work I do. I work with three different rescue groups. I bathe and groom dogs for free for them. I also love the day camp groups. The dogs that come in every week are like our little family. We have the small dog pack and the big dog pack. Some of the dogs come in every day. I love seeing how excited they are to see us and their dog friends when they walk in the door.
AJ: What advice would you have for anyone who is interested in doing the work you do?
Rene: You have to make sure you love dogs. You can’t just kind of like dogs. You have to be a huge dog lover—you must absolutely love them.