Private In-Home Grooming with Rose & Friends Pet Care
Everyone knows about brick & mortar grooming shops and mobile grooming. While mobile grooming has begun to take off in recent years, brick and mortar stores are probably the most popular. Owners are very familiar with dropping their dog off at the shop and then picking them up. For both elderly humans and pets or those that can’t leave their home, mobile grooming offers a valuable service by bringing the shop to the front yard. But is there a third option?
We reached out to Rose Agracewicz of Rose & Friends Pet Care. She focuses on private in-home grooming where she brings her shop directly INTO the home of the client and pet. We wanted to get the scoop on her ideology and why she considers this to be the best option for the pets.
Please introduce yourself and how you entered the grooming industry.
Hello! My name is Rose Agracewicz. I live and work in Southern California, am 32 years old, and am the owner/groomer of Rose & Friends Pet Care. 2020 is my fifth year as a self-employed groomer, and my 6th year grooming total. I feel like I had an unconventional journey into this industry.
I received a bachelor’s degree in Entrepreneurship in 2010 and found incredible opportunities in various industries from private golf course operations to wedding consulting. But there was always an underlying frustration at my lack of passion for what I was doing. I had great jobs, but I needed a purpose.
My entire life has been filled with dogs, but not dog grooming. I didn’t know anything about it really until the year I entered the industry. I had met some groomers, heard about their successes, and that spark in my heart hasn’t faded since.
I found my first job as a mobile groomer for a company who hired me at entry-level. After a short time there, I found myself not aligning with their practices, so I found a second job at a shop as a bather. This experience left me feeling defeated. Pets were handled in ways I didn’t condone, and customers misled. My observations of “pet care” were eye opening and my concerns fell on deaf ears. Now, these were two very short experiences, and my judgments are personal. These services are wonderful for many pets and employees.
But with that said, I do generally feel that any organization with a focus on high volume is unable to provide the time and relationship building that sits right in MY heart. So as entrepreneurship goes, necessity breeds innovation. I needed something different, that I could believe in. I wanted to provide a service where the pet only worked with one handler, a relationship that was ongoing and ideally permanent, and a channel of communication with the owners that revolved around transparency and trust. As I say now, “I don’t want to just groom your dog. I want to be your dog’s groomer.” For me, there is a difference.
My entry into the industry is something I really don’t share often … I strive to keep things focused on the positive, and I don’t like that my start had a negative foundation. But it shaped who I would become, and for that, I wouldn’t trade those experiences.
You are a Private In-Home Groomer, please tell us more about this. What is Private In-Home Grooming? What do you do? Why do you do it?
Private in-home grooming is also known as house call grooming, or sometimes latchkey grooming. The main distinction is that the grooming service takes place inside the pet’s actual home or yard, as opposed to a separate mobile van or shop.
When asked what it is or why I do it, I often have to ask for a more specific question! There are so many aspects of this service that motivate me, as an owner, as a groomer, for the pet, and for the client.
Some of the distinguishing features that are most important to me in my service are:
One-on-one grooming: One pet at a time, with the same groomer every time. For the pet, they receive my full focus with no down time throughout an already extensive process that I ask them to endure. For me, I get to build a personal relationship with them, gain their trust, learn their quirks, and in time, know how to make grooming the most enjoyable experience it can be, for each and every one of them.
No change of environment: By keeping the pets in their own comfort zone, they avoid outside stimulations that often affect their emotional state (like being around other pets, other groomers, a change of scenery, separation from the owner, vehicle anxiety, and much more). In my experience, I find the vast majority of pets to be far more comfortable, cooperative, and less nervous or aggressive, than my experiences grooming in a van or a shop.
Full transparency: One of my favorite things about my service is offering owners full transparency. They can see and hear my every move with their pet, they can interact and ask questions, learn and understand, assist, and whatever else helps make things work. In the beginning, clients are usually extremely curious, full of questions, and overwhelmed at how much goes into our job. If you think about it, they rarely, if ever, have had the opportunity to watch their pet be groomed. Many companies do not allow the owner to stay, for various reasons. For me, this part is key. Without the owner’s full involvement, there could never be full understanding. Without full understanding, there could never be full trust. And for me, that’s what it’s all about.
Focus on communication: I strive to keep communication and customer service a main focus. I think every owner deserves to know the truth about their pet’s grooming experience, fears, and/or behavior. I feel owners should know how their pets act, so they can take this knowledge and work with them to build confidence and familiarity when needed. I think owners should be educated about coat types and appropriate styles and shown why certain haircuts can or cannot work. I have never had a client argue with me about dematting/shaving their dog once I have SHOWN them my reasoning. Once they SEE that a guard comb cannot cut through a matted area, they simply understand. Once they SEE that dematting is causing their dog pain, they simply understand. Once I communicate and educate, that’s when the real relationship begins. I communicate behavior details, emotional quirks, physical concerns, successes, and more. I share before and after photos of all grooms, and videos that make them smile. I treat my clients like I would like myself and my pets to be treated, more like friends and family than business partners, and they have grown to be just that.
Intention of being each dog’s “last groomer”: Once I groom a pup, I hope to continue grooming that dog for the remainder of its life. I love the experience of growing with a pet. I cherish the senior stage. There is immense reward for me in watching a dog age, knowing their needs and seeing their changes, and helping them through this, with their owners involved each step of the way.
Low Volume Operation: I want to provide an intimate grooming service. I am the sole groomer for Rose & Friends, so I maintain a capacity on my clientele. I have a limited number of homes I will visit per day, and a limited number of total pets I will allow in my client list. All of my clients rebook their appointments, so my schedule remains prebooked, and clientele turnover is low. Typically, a client is only replaced if their pet passes away (and they do not get a new one) or they move out of my service area. This makes business very consistent, which is one of the most special aspects for me as a groomer/owner. I love the security of my calendar, and I love the collection of people and pets I work with more than I can describe… they fulfill me in ways I never expected, they treat me better than I deserve. They give me the reason to keep going.
What has been your most negative experience with Private In-Home Grooming (or with grooming in general)?
Pushing through doubts and embracing the struggle was difficult in the beginning. I wanted to find the quickest road to become a groomer, until I realized it is a journey, not a destination. I wanted to be the best groomer, until I realized it is a subjective art. Every year I am in this line of work, I change. My understanding, my tools, my techniques, my beliefs…. I evolve.
I wish in the beginning I had known this, so that I could embrace the growth, and not feel shy about it.
I find groomers are usually their own worst critics. We judge ourselves; we compare to others; we expect to achieve today what others may have spent years perfecting. It is hard to appreciate ourselves, but it is important. We all offer something different. We all leave a unique fingerprint on our work. Embrace yours. Your signature now is as important as it will ever be.
Side story: My business was called Rose & Friends “Pet Care” intentionally…. I am Rose, and dogs are my friends. And I will never forget when my last boss told me at the end of my employment when they learned I was launching a small house call service, “You are what’s wrong with this industry. Someone picks up a pair of shears and calls themself a groomer.” I was intimidated and insulted. But I knew my strengths were in handling, heart, and communication, and the rest was a work in progress that was coming naturally.
So “Pet Care” I would be. And frankly, it has stuck, because there is far more to it than just “grooming” anyways.
Now for the positive: what has been your most positive experience with Private In-Home Grooming (or with grooming in general)?
How lucky am I that this is a difficult question to answer?
There are countless blessings… countless moments of joy… countless motivations that keep me eager and wanting more.
The relationships I’ve built that have grown into friendships may be the most rewarding aspect of my service. From clients to groomers to vendors to pets, my tribe has expanded, and they make me feel loved. The encouragement others show in my approach to grooming, makes me feel my vision is relevant, important. Clients have shown me endless appreciation. Followers have given me so much support. Pets have given me unexpected trust. Businesses have blessed me with sponsorships (two-year product ambassador for Andis’ Groom Nation program). Every gesture has been felt.
I have a growing sense of purpose in life that I never felt in past jobs. I feel my work matters. I feel my heart, my hopes, my hands, matter. I no longer watch the clock, but I enjoy the scenery. I don’t resent my days, but I look forward to my mornings. I feel a natural sense of belonging. That is something priceless that I wish all groomers felt. We empty our tanks every day, but my little private service also keeps my tank full. We all deserve that balance.
Where does your positive attitude and love for animals come from?
My mom, and I guess, my natural wiring. My mom is an animal lover and I can thank her for a childhood filled with pets, and a love for animals that exceeds humans. As for my patience and handling… I’m not sure exactly. It is innate. I enjoy hearing others describe how I work, whether they joke that I talk to their dog the whole time (even the deaf ones), or they comment on my unique techniques to gain trust, or my success with aggressive dog rehabilitation, or simply how much I smile while I work. I don’t think of those things, so I love their observations. I’m not exactly sure where my approaches come from other than instinct. I really feel like Dog is my second language… maybe even my first! Dogs simply have never hurt me. They communicate in quiet ways, but they communicate, so I listen. They have their own personalities, which deserve to be heard. I am grateful to understand the dogs I work with. I do not think this is something anyone can do; I do think it is a special aspect of who groomers are.
Do you have any tips or tricks that you’d like to share?
There is no one-way approach to grooming, let alone house call grooming. Every pet needs something different, every groomer likes something different, every owner wants something different. As hard as it can be, follow your own moral compass as best you can. All we can do is our own individual best, and that will be enough for the right people. Find what makes you happy, find the pets and people who make you happy, and give the same back to them. Never compare your beginning to another’s ending. Everyone started as an amateur. Grow through love. Love yourself, love the dogs, love the clients. Be kind, and smile. There is always something to laugh about.
What is one thing you wish you would have learned sooner?
I’ve said many times I just wish I started grooming younger. But without the trials of past jobs, maybe I wouldn’t know the same appreciation now. I think the journey has been as it should be. I continue to learn things all the time, and don’t think that will ever end.
What would you tell someone that is thinking about doing Private In-Home Grooming?
Congratulations! I can’t wait to see what you do with this.
I am so grateful for the countless groomers who have reached out to me on Instagram and Facebook for insight and advice about how this little service became. I have had the most special conversations with groomers, some that I admire immensely, as they dive into the concept and learn more about it. House call is the newest arm of the grooming world, but it is definitely earning its place. However, house call isn’t for everyone. That is a common piece of feedback I have noticed. I think it takes a rare soul to embrace this niche. I recall a seminar in which the speaker referred to house call grooming as “the most convenient option for the pet, and the least convenient option for the groomer.” This is difficult, physical work, on top of the regular physically brutal aspects of grooming. We construct a full-service salon in the middle of someone’s home, perform our intricate service in unique spaces, and leave little to no evidence behind. We perform our work with distractions that cannot be avoided, watchful eyes, and loud voices. Tools can be heavy. Weather can be unpredictable. And everything relies on us, from operations to accounting to marketing to self-care. But when this solo endeavor works, all the joy is yours to absorb. The financial margins are hard to argue, the personal gratitudes are yours to claim, and all decisions are yours for the making. House call is not for everyone, but if it is for you, it could be everything.
Do you have any personal pets? Please tell us all about them.
I currently have two dogs, Mooch & Scooter. I guess that Mooch is possibly a 9-year-old Corgi/Dachshund. She was a stray I found 8 years ago and has grown to be my most reliable sidekick. She is a human being in a dog’s body. Scooter is a 14-year-old Shih Tzu/Poodle. He was my dad’s dog who I inherited three years ago. He is my beloved toothless old man who likes long naps, short walks, and sharing snacks. He makes us smile.
Fun fact: I made my business logo four years ago on Windows Paint. It is silhouettes of me and the five dogs I had at the time I launched: Buster, Magoo, me, Pita, Mooch, and Kobe.
Do you shop at Ryan’s Pet Supplies? If so, what are your favorite products?
I am guilty of using Amazon for almost all purchases needed online. However, when checking Ryan’s website now, I see you offerthe shampoo I use for $8 less per gallon (that’s an instant 20%+ savings) as well as other used items. I am planning to place my next order with Ryan’s. I love companies who are out there at the ground level connecting with real groomers and appreciate so much the chance to share my story.
Thank you, Casey & Ryan’s Pet Supplies, for this opportunity!
Thank You, Rose!
We are so grateful that you shared your story and experiences with us today. At Ryan’s Pet Supplies, our mission is to take care of people who take care of pets and Rose exemplifies "taking care of pets". Every groomer gets into grooming because they adore pets, but Rose gives an extra level of care that is something to behold! While we agree that house-call grooming may not be for everyone, it is surely for Rose. We are truly blessed to be part of such a loving community that takes their career so seriously and holds pets so dear. Rose, you're a rock star!
We hope that you learned something today from Rose from Rose & Friends Pet Care – we certainly did. If you are interested in learning more about Rose & Friends Pet Care, you can check her out here on Facebook and Instagram. We highly recommend you give her a follow!
If you liked this blog, please comment on our Facebook or Instagram, and let us know. You can even DM us and tell us what blogs and articles you’d be interested in reading – we LOVE hearing from groomers.
Until next time, stay safe!