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Stephanie Zag

Stephanie Zag stumbled upon the grooming industry when she was working as a certified veterinary technician in 2002. Her office needed a groomer and she stepped up to fill the role – then was completely sold.

With a desire to take care of animals, and an added love of art, Stephanie found that grooming was the direction she was meant to go.

“I love it,” she said. “The groomers I know, who are artists, do a fabulous job [in this career]. There are so many different avenues you can take. It’s a constant learning process and I love it because [the industry] is so versatile.”

Throughout Stephanie’s grooming education, she found that it was difficult finding access to a grooming school in her area. Paragon’s instructional videos were Stephanie’s aid during much of her learning process.

“Finding a good school in the area is challenging,” she said. “ is so helpful. I watched my grooming improve, even going back to learning the basics.”

For a short period of time, Stephanie left grooming to pursue other interests, but said she didn’t stay away for long, “I missed it so much, I just had to come back to grooming. There is just so much in it, you can do anything.”

Stephanie wants to encourage those who love animals to look into grooming as a career, and has this advice to give:

“Do your research, you aren’t going to get bored,” she said. “Grooming is essential. This is something people more and more, want good quality. It’s no longer just shave-down a matted dog, its taking care of them and getting a spa treatment.

“There are all kinds of ways to get your education, there are all kinds of learning experiences to go through. Have fun. Reach out to some of the trade shows, seminars and keep learning.”

Jillian Anderson’s Story

Jillian Anderson’s grooming journey started 18 years ago, when her father, who is a certified groomer, taught Jillian to groom their Great Danes. Her desire to learn more kept her close to her father as she continued to soak up all the grooming lessons he gave her. She even continued grooming overseas in Israel when her family was transferred there for work. Now, she lives in Florida, still grooming and doing what she loves and taking care of the dogs.

Jillian’s education and grooming career seemed to be going smoothly, but when faced with serious medical issues, she continued to pursue her passion despite it taking a major toll on her body. What kept Jillian going were the dogs, or as she puts it “looking out for the little guy.”

“I am stubborn,” she said. “[the medical issues] are super frustrating, but I have a passion for this and would do it for free if I could.”

Despite severe heart problems, Jillian worked her way through school and became a certified groomer. She also keeps up to date on grooming techniques by watching Paragon’s video tutorials. has helped boost her confidence, refine her finishing techniques, and improve her scissor work.

“I always want to be an inspiration to others who struggle in this career,” Jillian said. “Don’t doubt yourself, if you love art and love animals, there should be no stopping you. I’m not one to preach, but I’ve managed to be successful in this industry.”

She also said that, for her, grooming is not just about the proper haircut, but connecting with the dog and their owner. She wants to make sure everyone is comfortable and has a good experience.

Now, Jillian feels like she found the area of grooming that works best for her, working at a mobile pet care business. She says she loves this business because she is able to groom dogs in their home or environment, which keeps them comfortable.

“I’ve never had this confidence before,” Jillian said. “I care about the animals, hands down. I want my dogs to look like show dogs, but I care about the dogs first, some dogs have issues (like anxiety) and I want to do what’s best for them. What’s important to me is that the dogs are comfortable.”

When reflecting on where she is today in her career, Jillian credits her father for encouraging her to pursue her passion, which involves care for animals within grooming as well as specializing in service dog training.

Stacey Deshkulkarni’s Story

Stacey Deshkulkarni said she has been uniquely trained her entire working life for taking care of animals. She has worked in cosmetology, radiography, and higher education, and all three fields meshed together to set her up for success in the most unlikely of fields – professional dog grooming.

“It’s been a wild ride,” said the Tennessee native. “I asked myself what I actually WANTED to do, so I started pet sitting so I didn’t lose my mind at home, but it kind of progressed to a point where it turned into grooming.”

Cosmetology taught Stacey techniques on how to handle tools and be delicate with nails, radiography familiarized her with anatomy and working as a professor allowed her to not only further develop a love for learning but also grow communication and leadership skills.

“It is different between humans and dogs, but I think it gave me a head start,” she said. “I really feel like everything has led me to where I am now, where I’m actually really happy, I wish that when I was younger that this was an option.”

When Stacey knew grooming was the direction she was going to take, she wanted to “learn from the best in the industry,” and started studying with the video streaming service, and attended the Distance Learning Program offered through Paragon.

“I’m thankful that I had the option to learn all this stuff online,” Stacey said. “I didn’t have the choice to go to a grooming school and participate in a program from a recognized school [where I live].”

Unbeknownst to Stacey, her working career has given her a well-rounded stepping stone into the grooming world, but she needed that extra push to dive headfirst into the grooming industry with confidence. Stacey said that learning with Paragon gave her that boost.

“When I was first looking to get a van for my mobile business, I called and spoke to some other mobile groomers and asked, ‘Am I crazy for wanting to do this?’ and they would say, ‘no you’re going to one of the best schools in the nation,’” she said.

“The best advice I can give is if you feel like this is the career for you, go for it,” she continued. “Do what you have to do, this is a great profession, there are a lot of choices and you can build your business the way you want it.”

Now, Stacey runs “Stacey’s Mobile Pet Spa” in Johnson City, Tennessee, and foresees grooming as her permanent career.

“I love dogs, they are my whole world,” she said. “When people say you can’t learn online, I just say ‘Watch me.’”

Michelle Smith’s Story

Michelle Smith saw a need in her community south of Traverse City, Michigan, for dog grooming. As a recent graduate of the Paragon School of Pet Grooming, she opened her own business and dove right into working. Shortly, she gained a heavy workload, and Michelle found to be a lifesaver. “Learn2GroomDogs seriously saved me big time, it saved me anxiety and stress, it was exactly what I needed.”

In the past, Michelle has worked in multiple professions, including jobs in corporate America, and owning a horse farm. She became interested in grooming because of her love for animals and a desire to work from home. She then started her profession of dog grooming at the age of 55 and opened her in-home shop, Boardman Bath and Brush. She found that the close, home-like environment also works to make the clients feel comfortable in a safe and personal environment.

“I wanted it to be more of a family feel,” Michelle said. “I’ve been booked solid since I opened in November after graduating from Paragon. People are loving it.

“Many people in my area love the home shop more than corporate shops,” She continued. “People like the smaller, in-home and clean feeling. It’s also easier to build trust. I honestly haven’t even advertised; it’s been word of mouth and recommendations.”

The Paragon graduate found that being involved with the horse community before starting grooming helped find a community of people who also loved animals, making it easier to spread the word about her home business. Through this community she found herself grooming many farm dogs and educating people on grooming needs of the many breeds who run around farms.

“Farm dogs are a big [client for me],” Michelle said. “People wouldn’t probably consider bringing their farm dogs into a groomer. Because I’m smaller, I try to go all-inclusive and take care of them the best I can. That really draws people.”

Michelle said that jumping into a business so soon after completing Paragon’s program made her hesitant to start working. However, the resources Paragon offered in their program and has eased that pressure and given Michelle a new confidence in taking care of dogs.

“I’ve gone through [] for hours,” she continued. “It is a huge reliever and confidence builder. It’s continuing education to the MAX. You can select your level of expertise, and if the customer wants something special, I have the option to learn more in depth things.”

Michelle said her favorite part of the job is the dogs. Even with more energetic clients that are tough to groom, she finds joy in loving on animals and building trust with the pet owners.

Misty Gieczys’ Story

Check out this great story from Misty Gieczy, she is a Certified Master Groomer that has used Learn2GroomDogs as her source of education since it first launched!

Misty Gieczys’ is a lifelong learner. She is heavily involved in the dog grooming and competition communities, and any chance she gets to learn new techniques or styles, she jumps on the opportunity.

Misty’s introduction to working with dogs started as a PetSmart dog trainer, but eventually transferred to a groomer. She said she was hooked ever since.

Now, nearly 15 years later, Misty is a Certified Master Groomer, owns two salons, teaches upcoming groomers and still furthers her education to become better at her craft.

“Education is my favorite part,” Misty said. “I also love being able to teach someone my skills and my passion and watch them make a living and trade out of it. It would make me giddy if they surpass me.”

Misty, owner of Designer Paws Salon in Ohio, has been going to seminars and expos to learn more for her business since 2009, has been a subscriber to since it launched. At first, the site became a tool to use for her own education, but eventually became an integral part of her own business and training operation.

“I use it for everything,” she said. “Every time we hire a new hire, I have a list of videos they need to watch before they come to me to train.”

Her passion for learning and teaching does not just extend to her business and new hires. Misty said she is a part of multiple Facebook groups that help with grooming education and consistently tells people that is an important and valuable tool for groomers of all levels.

“I always suggest people get a membership,” she said. “It’s less than a DVD per month, and we get close to 900 videos now. I push that quite a bit for people who want to get into the industry, or people who need to know what to look for. There are so many different videos that people who don’t actually groom can get education from.”

Misty said a reason she recommends educational tools to other people is because she believes it is hard to find education readily accessible to groomers to refresh their skills or learn new things without going to Expos, back to school or potentially learning the wrong technique from a YouTube video.

“I don’t think a lot of people in our industry know where to get our education from,” she said. “Some think it’s just the expos, but there are seminars right at the tips of their fingers on”

Realizing there is a need for accessible education, Misty makes it a point to host seminars at her salons and continues to spread positive quality education to groomers who are looking to get into the industry and are experienced in grooming.

Misty falls into a routine of watching videos before competitions or grooming new breeds, some videos she says she has seen a hundred times, and still seems to glean extra information that she didn’t catch before.

“With repetition, you soak it in,” she said. “I recommend to literally everyone. [ makes] it a lot easier for people to access that education.”

Misty is continuing her education by pursuing more certifications within the grooming industry and continuing to take her competition grooming to further levels.

Andrea Cyrill’s Story

Check out this great story from Andrea Cyrill, a Member! Thank you for sharing your journey with us, and we’re happy to have helped you achieve your dream.

When Andrea Cyrill Khurana started her dog grooming career, she was one of two dog groomers in Mumbai, India. Andrea had a passion to learn and take care of dogs, but to do so, she would have to be a trailblazer for the grooming industry in India.
“Grooming doesn’t happen a lot in India,” she said. “It’s isn’t a huge industry yet.”

In 2008, she attended a grooming school in Australia to get her certification and returned to India. Initially, Andrea ran a mobile grooming van in India, and throughout her business, she refined her skills by using Paragon’s video streaming service.
Today, 12 years later, Andrea runs a grooming school, salon and boarding kennel. Andrea said that she uses videos in her classes to teach her students when appropriate for the lesson.

“I’ve been a subscriber since 2008, and I keep using it,” Andrea said. “Most of the time I use it for schooling. They just have so many fun things to watch and to learn. It’s really helpful.”

Andrea said she has a desire to grow the industry and love for dogs in her area, but the education can be difficult to get, and this is why has been a valuable resource to her personal career, her students and her business.

“It’s not easy for us to go to Australia or U.S. because of money and time constraints, there is a lot of problems we face,” She said. “I’m really grateful there is a place to go and find stuff that is relevant to us. Mellissa is doing an awesome job. It’s a godsend.”

Over the last dozen years, Andrea has seen dog grooming grow, making a positive environment for groomers to be for healthy competition but also learning off each other and bouncing ideas back and forth on new styles and ways of grooming.

“All the groomers love animals, dogs or cats,” Andrea said. “We are bound together for our love and passion for animals. We all have something in common, we all are following our hearts.” Andrea now has founded the Professional Pet Groomers Association of India (PPGAI) in order to regulate grooming standards and build up grooming in the country.

“There are many groomers now who have not gone to school for grooming,” Andrea said. “(The PPGAI is) So we can support our peers, educate our clients, support system to see this through,” she said. “We take pride in this, we educate ourselves, spend money, time and energy educating ourselves, and some people (who aren’t educated groomers) mess it up for everyone, that’s not right.”
Andrea hopes to see dog grooming expand in India, as well as see the PPGAI grow in order to ensure the dogs are safe and healthy and to continue expanding positive care for dogs across the country.

New Groomer Learns New Tricks with

Annette Tucker learned new professional dog grooming tricks from membership in Learn2GroomDogs.comGrowing up, Annette Tucker loved dogs, but also dreamed of becoming a hairdresser for women. At the age of 50, those two passions are what spurred her to make a career change into the dog grooming industry.

After spending 20 years working in 4H youth development, Annette said the stars aligned and she took the leap into an entirely new career path. She attended dog grooming school, which set her up to hit the ground running for her new grooming path.

“Some days it’s super hard work, physically hard work,” Annette said. “But the days I’m building fabulous relationships with pet parents, and the dogs are looking great and the people I work with, it’s all fulfilling.”

Annette said that the career change has been exciting and rewarding for her, however, it does come with certain challenges. She has had to face many adjustments in her grooming education, including the age differences with her colleagues.

“For me, what has been interesting and a challenge in my own mind is that a lot of people start grooming at a young age,” Annette said. “I had a full-time professional career longer than most young groomers have been alive. [We are at a] different generational level in life, which is challenging in an environment where my coworkers are significantly younger than I am.”

During her education, Annette utilized Paragon’s books to study after hours, to better refine her understanding and skills. She said that she is a lifelong learner and soaked in as much information as possible when she could.

“Learning on my own was a natural thing to do,” Annette said. “Having a resource like that has been amazing.”

After her schooling was completed, she was hired at a daycare boarding facility, becoming the sole groomer at the company for six months. She said this further drove her to learn as much as she could on her own, which is why she subscribed to Paragon’s video streaming service.

“It’s a fantastic resource that all dog groomers should continue to learn and use,” she said.

Annette also said her desire for further education stems from the importance of having a trusting relationship between a pet groomer and a pet parent. She said this is because both parent and groomer seek to give the best care possible to the dogs, and it can be scary giving a pet into a stranger’s hands for care.

“It’s really key for a parent to trust their groomer,” Annette said. “As we continue to work with the pet and their parent, we solidify what they are looking for in their pet. I’m really enjoying that component, working with the parent and their pet. We are a team of loving their pet together.”

Now, Annette works at Bark Me Beautiful Pet Grooming Inc., where she works with experienced groomers and continues her lifelong learning journey. has also helped Annette further her education on her own and helped her prepare for certification with the National Dog Groomers Association of America in the sporting and nonsporting groups.

“I’m investing in myself and my further education as a groomer. It’s a fantastic resource that all dog groomers should continue to learn and use,” she said. “I’m fortunate to be working where I am because we all desire to be high quality for our customers.”

Diane Chalmers Russell’s Story

Check out this great story from Diane Chalmers Russell, a Member! Thank you for sharing your journey with us, and we’re happy to have been part of the picture.

What a crazy day and exciting two weeks. A couple of weeks ago I reached out to a local salon owner to inquire about getting started in grooming. I had researched my options of going to a chain store, full-time grooming school, online classes or finding a mentor. She agreed to mentor me and hired me as a bather. I have been watching the videos as my training and applying it at this shop. So far so good. I have been armed with enough knowledge to perform my bathing, drying, brushing and nail trimming tasks without much assistance.

Well, today I arrived for my scheduled plan of 7 dogs to bathe & brush. I was greeted by a panicked receptionist advising me that both groomers called in sick for the day. The only groomer was the owner who was on light duty due to an injury. So, armed with my knowledge and a good mentor, I was able to put clippers to my first dog! Sadly, a very matted Golden Doodle. But, together we got him done.

It’s been a long day. I am ready for a Calgon moment myself. But, excited that I was able and capable to get the work done. I bathed all my bath & brush dogs, bathed all of the clip & trim dogs, and got to shave down the Doodle. Phew…

Thanks Melissa for the good instructions.

Brittanie Eggerding’s Story

Brittanie Eggerding grew up in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, with a passion for animals. She regularly watched her mom groom animals and was determined to make a career that cared for animals.

“I’ve always grown up in the grooming world,” She said. “I always looked up to my mom and her being the groomer.”

As she got older, she mentored with groomers and learned on the job, also gaining instruction from the video subscription to help build her knowledge base.

With the knowledge of how to groom, but looking for her certification, Brittanie decided to leave South Dakota in 2015 and move to Grand Rapids to attend school. She enrolled in Paragon’s educational services that helps groomers with prior experience hone the skills they need to improve before being a certified groomer.

“I used the school as an excuse to move across the country,” She said. “I needed to focus on the aspects of grooming that I needed to improve. I’ve learned a lot and continue to learn.”

Brittanie says that the grooming community overall are people genuinely passionate about animals, therefore they want to help anyone who cares for animals be as well-equipped as possible.

“The community brings together the people who care about the wellbeing of a pet and doing it for the right reasons,” she said. “Everyone is so nice and will build you. It’s a tight knit community of people who want to better their services.”

Now, 28, and recently married, Brittanie works at Whiskers Resort and Pet Spa as a stylist in West Michigan. She said the best part of the job for her is cultivating the culture of love and care for animals through things like styling and grooming.

“When they come in dirty, or matted and scared, sending them home clean, stylized, and comfortable is so rewarding,” she said. “I love seeing the owners that don’t know what to expect and seeing their faces when we are done too.”

Misty Cox’s Story

Misty Cox, a professor teaching professional pet grooming at Greenville Technical College in South Carolina, has used the videos and Paragon books in her curriculum for nearly 7 years.

“It’s a wonderful tool,” Cox said. “Hearing it is one thing, seeing it is another. I’ve been teaching for 14 years, and I have taught the classes with other types of videos, but they weren’t as thorough with the limited amount of time. The videos have been very helpful in my classes.” has become an important tool within Cox’s classroom and curriculum. She said that some students consult YouTube, and that make her cringe, “Anybody can put anything there,” she said. The tools Paragon supplies meet industry standard, making them reliable resources for the students.

“I get the thrill out of teaching the proper way and seeing people succeed,” Cox said. “Most people come in with zero knowledge and its rewarding seeing people succeed.”

Cox said a big problem within the pet grooming industry is that there are no requirements for certifications in order to care for animals. She said the resources provided by Paragon are helping educate people and are invaluable to her classroom.

In addition to, Cox utilizes books Paragon offers as resources to her students.

“Notes from the Grooming Table was the first book that I purchased and what introduced me to Paragon,” Cox said. “I’m thankful for the books, you can see detail and pictures with the instructions, it completely changed the way we teach.”

The pet grooming community within Greenville, South Carolina is growing due to the program within the college, and it is important to Cox to fill the community with quality pet groomers over quantity. The students not only get lectures and video examples, but also have access to a grooming lab for practical application.

The program graduates 24 certified pet groomers a year. These students are equipped with the tools needed to be well-rounded in a field that is largely unregulated. Currently, there is a waiting list to get into the school.

The passion for grooming dogs started with cox almost 16 years ago when she took the program at Greenville Technical College herself, and looking to the future, she is excited to continue spreading that passion for animals by teaching students the proper way to care for them.

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