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Thank You!

team photoIt’s an amazing honor to receive the Barkleigh Honors Award for Website of the Year. We are thankful beyond words to be nominated among such devoted and talented people. Thank you to Barkleigh for your recognition and for the tireless work you do every day to improve our industry for all groomers and the pets entrusted to us.

Receiving this award is both humbling and inspiring. We created Learn2GroomDogs.com to help people who love working with pets become the groomers and stylists they’ve always wanted to be. We’re so grateful to be part of an industry that values education as well as professional and personal growth. Thanks to our subscribers, we’re more excited and motivated than ever to keep bringing you the tools and materials you need to make your lives better and improve the safety and well-being of pets everywhere.

This was so much more than the four of us could achieve alone. Helping people is our passion and you have always been the driving force behind everything we do.

Thank you to our dedicated team, our amazing Training Partners, and our subscribers for your feedback, insight, and support. This award belongs to all of you, as well. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for all of you. Thank you for being part of our family.


Learn2GroomDogs.com Wins Big!

Sept 19, 2015 was a fabulous night. My Learn2GroomDogs.com team had the honor of accepting the 2015 Barkleigh Honors Award for Website of the Year. This is the second time we have won the award, but this year it was with a brand new website!

Let me take you behind the scenes. Learn2GroomDogs.com started as a dream. A big dream.

I knew video content brought clarity to the learning process. We had seen it ourselves with our training program at the Paragon School of Pet Grooming. We introduced our own series of core grooming videos to the program in 2008. Those videos made a huge impact on how rapidly our students developed in the hands-on training program.

Professional pet grooming is an amazing career. Unfortunately, many find it challenging to move their careers forward without convenient access to continuing education.  Once I saw how well our students preformed after watching our video lessons, I knew I was on to something.

For two years I thought about how I could help more people with video learning. How could we make it easy? Accessible? Affordable? What would the lessons be? Who would present the training? For two years my head was bursting with ideas yet I could not come up with the ideal solution.

I firmly believe in the “Law of Attraction.”  What you think about becomes a magnet. Thoughts become things. They naturally become a part of your life.

In 2010 my husband and I stumbled upon my answer at a large equine event. I was not looking for it – but there it was. On a huge TV we both saw digital streaming videos. Hundreds of them. The company was educating riders around the globe. They were using Olympic caliber riders as their video trainers.

It was simple. It was accessible to the learner. All it took was a high-speed internet connection. And the best part – it was affordable to the subscriber! Members had unlimited access to hundreds of training lessons at their fingertips. All the lessons were taught by the best of the best.

My jaw dropped. I knew I had found my answer.

We spent the next few months learning everything we could about building a streaming video company.

For the first 4 years we partnered with that equine business as we built Learn2GroomDogs. The learning curve for my team was immense.  As we built the company and the video library, our platform needs changed.

Late in 2014 we started building our own platform to better meet the desires of our members. You know that saying, “If you knew how difficult something would be, you’d never take the first step…” That was us as we undertook the new platform for Learn2GroomDogs!

Again, the law of attraction was hard at work. We found an amazing team of talented computer programmers and designers. My team worked closely with them to create the new platform. It took almost 6 months to build the new site and many LONG hours.

It was launch time in early in 2015. Our goal was to keep the transition as seamless as possible for our members. We swallowed hard. Crossed our fingers. We all said our own silent prayers. There was a lot of information to transfer. Even though we had tested, and tested, and tested – we were all still very nervous. I think the entire team held their breath as we flipped the switch from our original platform to the new one.

We did it! It worked. Sure we had a few glitches to clean up but overall, the transition was a huge success. Learn2GroomDogs.com had a new home and a new look.

We are thrilled with how the site came out. Our aim was to make the new site as user-friendly as possible. We wanted the look to be clean, simple, and easy to navigate. The site search engine needed to be very powerful so members could find what they needed with just a few keystrokes.

Today we have over 600 pet grooming video lessons in the library (it keeps growing!).  Fresh lessons are added every week. We are fortunate to work with a wide range of extremely talented top industry professionals as our Training Partners. Currently we have over 45 Training Partners. The best of the best.

I love the fact that this platform lends itself to a wide range of industry driven topics. It’s like going to a major educational trade show but doing it from the comfort of your home.

We are honored to accept the 2015 Barkleigh Honors Award for Website of the Year. I’d also like to thank my entire team for making Learn2GroomDogs.com a reality.

Marc LaFleur: Co-Founder, Assistant Educational Resource Director, Film Director & Cameraman

Marc is my #1 supporter and husband. He also is the man behind the camera on 98% of the videos. Marc brings a unique perspective to the lens. He is a long time Certified Master Groomer, former mobile stylist, and grooming instructor. His experience with grooming and training allows him to focus in on the critical elements when it comes to pet grooming techniques as he is filming. Marc also spends countless hours behind the wheel when we travel to film with our Training Partners across the country.

Joelle Asmondy: Customer Service Director, Marketing & Sales, Newsletter Editor and Geek Trouble Shooter

Joelle wears MANY hats in this company. Her outgoing personality combined with marketing savvy, editorial skills, and techie obsessions allow her to excel in her roles at Learn2GroomDogs.com. Joelle is always there to help any of our team or assist Learn2GroomDogs members with a wide variety of needs. She is also my go-to person for all our newsletter and marketing needs. I do all the writing for Learn2GroomDogs.com – but Joelle has the eagle eye. She’s a brilliant editor!

Teresa Dreese: Customer Service Representative, Accounting & Billing Director

Teresa has been with my team for almost 20 years. She started as a star graduate of the Paragon School of Pet Grooming. She has worked her way through the ranks at Paragon from being an instructor to the school’s Director. Teresa is an award-winning pet stylists and a Certified Master Groomer. She has been the Coordinator for GroomTeam USA as well as a Board Member for that organization. Her eye for detail in the numbers is astonishing. She shines at the job most of us run the other way from – accounting and billing!

Ryan Walsh: Video Editor & Technical Support

Ryan has been our long time technical guru. His formal IT training began with his military training in Desert Storm. Today he’s one of those guys that can fix anything with a gum wrapper, paper clip, and a battery. Besides being totally “geekie,” he took many classes on photography and videography. Ryan was a part of my team long before Learn2GroomDogs.com was formed. When we needed advice on camera gear, lighting, and editing, Ryan jumped in with both feet and has never looked back. When it comes to tech support for my team and our members, there simply is no one better.

Lisa VanSweden: Artist, Assistant Customer Service Representative, Assistant Editor & Social Media Advisor

Lisa is an early graduate of the Paragon School of Pet Grooming. She went on to become an instructor at the school. She was a printed wildlife artist before she became a pet groomer. She has been able to combine her passion for art with dog grooming. Lisa has gone on to become a highly recognized artist in the field of pet grooming education with her work in Notes From the Grooming Table, Theory of Five along with many other projects headed up by myself. Lisa’s educational illustrations can be found in other pet-related organizations, as well.  Her desire to help pets and people combined with her grooming knowledge makes her a perfect assistant in many facets of our work with Learn2GroomDogs.com.

The Team at Imagination Factory: Website Creation & Development

Ted, Kate, and Mike were the front players on this team – but I know there were many more behind the scenes of this core group. It was an amazing experience working with this talented team. They skillfully led us down a very cluttered and confusing creative process. Their end result was nothing short of brilliant!

The Learn2GroomDogs.com Training Partners

I still pinch myself when I think of the phenomenal professionals we get to work with on all the video lessons. There is not a lesson in the L2GD library that I have not learned something from – and I’ve been playing in this field for a very long time! I’m thrilled and honored to work with every one of them!

Our Learn2GroomDogs Members

Nothing excites me more than to help other become the best they can be. By becoming a member and watching the videos, you are taking an active role in growing your skill set. I love that! This career path is so rewarding for those that are passionate about their job. I’m privileged to be able to help you on your educational journey.

Barkleigh Productions

A special thanks to Barkleigh Productions for managing and hosting these prestigious awards. There are many categories in which industry professionals can cast their votes.  It’s a privilege just to be nominated – let along WIN an award. Thank you for making the Barkleigh Honor Awards such an amazing industry event.

Thanks to YOU! Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and visit with us.

Happy trimming,

~Melissa


Is it Time for Licensing in the Pet Grooming Industry? – The Time Has Come to Consider Professional Regulation for Pet Grooming in the United States.

When I first opened The Paragon School of Pet Grooming in 1991, I had to be licensed by the Michigan Board of Education. Granted, it was not licensing for pet grooming – it was for ensuring students received consistent training in a safe facility. The licensing was primarily for their protection – not ours.

Was the set-up process challenging? Absolutely! We had to prepare, complete, and comply with all required:

  • forms
  • regulations
  • rules
  • fees
  • documentation
  • inspections

It was daunting, to say the least. To make it even more challenging, we have to renew our license annually. Each year we have to jump through all the hoops again.

I found the entire licensing process tedious. Frustrating. Annoying. Intimidating.

But you know what? In the long run it made us a much stronger business and a better school. It forced us to pay attention to details I might have missed. Those details could have put our pets, students, employees, and clients at risk.

Today, more than ever, I feel licensing is necessary. Regulations and licensing are put in place to protect the health, safety, and well-being of the consumer. They also set acceptable standards in each field.

Today, there are hundreds of occupations and businesses that are either licensed or regulated.

  • accountants and CPAs
  • real estate agents
  • appraisers
  • architects
  • builders
  • carnivals
  • childcare
  • collection agencies
  • cosmologists and barbers
  • engineers
  • funeral directors
  • landscape architects
  • medical doctors
  • chiropractors
  • post-secondary schools
  • ski areas

…and the list goes on and on…

So why should professional pet groomers be any different?

Professional pet grooming is similar to two other industries: cosmetology and childcare. Both are heavily licensed and regulated.

...And for good reason.

Licensing and regulation isn’t needed because things are going well. They happen because problems exist that need to be corrected.

The idea of licensing within the pet grooming industry is not a new one. I still remember the efforts of Gregory Krisp and Kathy Rose 20 years ago. They were backed by the late Sally Liddick and Barkleigh Productions. They formed the Groomer Licensing Founders Committee in 1996. They were on the forefront of the licensing issue in our industry. Unfortunately, they were way ahead of their time. Their efforts fell upon deaf ears.

But some people were listening. Voluntary certification organizations were stepping up to the plate. They created comprehensive education and testing programs for groomers and stylists. Many states had strong professional groups that were hosting educational workshops. Ways to strengthen our profession were being developed from within. Voluntary licensing, testing, and continuing education were building in intensity.

I fully endorse setting mandatory regulations, standards – and ultimately licensing – for the pet grooming industry. But it needs to be on OUR terms, not by well-meaning individuals with no knowledge or understanding of what they are attempting to regulate.

Ideally, pet industry leaders and professionals would work closely with individual states. As they work together, they would create regulation guidelines for professional grooming establishments that are realistic and attainable for any competent professional.

Carelessness has created situations in which dogs have been injured – or worse – in grooming salons around the country. Owners are up in arms… and they should be. If it was my pet – I would. If it was your pet – my guess is you would be, too. Wouldn’t you want to do something about the safety and well-being of pets left in a pet professionals’ care?

The State of California tried to pass licensing for professional groomers. That bill was not written by industry leaders. It would have been devastating if it had passed because it was drafted by people who did not understand our industry. Teri DiMarino and Judy Breton, acting with the newly formed California Professional Pet Groomers Association, Inc., won a Barkleigh Honors Award for their extraordinary work in getting that bill defeated. Texas, New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts currently have bills in the works. Licensing for professional pet groomers is just around the corner for many states.

Luckily, we have a group on our side. Recently, the Professional Pet Groomers & Stylists Alliance was formed. According to a July 21, 2015 press release, “The PPGSA was created to harness the experience and expertise of the three major national pet styling associations, IPG, ISCC, and NDGAA to develop industry wide best practices.” They are working together with other industry leaders, associations, and major retailers to develop a set of suggested Basic Industry Standards. These standards could be presented to each state as licensing moves forward.

The primary focus of the PPGSA is on pet safety. Subject areas include:

  • animal housing
  • handling
  • equipment
  • products
  • facilities and safe operations
  • attentive animal care

The PPGSA will not offer any form of certification, testing, licensing, or regulations for our industry, but they are our voice. In other words, they have our backs when a bill hits YOUR state. They will be there to guide industry leaders – in each state – as bills are introduced. The Basic Standards will guide future legislation. It has been created to be used by any school, organization, or certification program. It can be enhanced to fit their unique needs and goals.

Regulations and licensing is definitely a challenge for any business. However, the time has come to seriously consider professional regulations for the pet grooming business in the United States.

If a bill is introduced to the State of Michigan to regulate professional pet grooming, I’ll be one of the first people to jump and help craft a workable bill. I hope you have the same attitude when the situation presents itself in your state.

What do you think? Are you prepared, worried? What do you think should be considered?  Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us how you feel.

Happy trimming,

~Melissa

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