As part of our Groomer Appreciation, we’d like to spotlight Groomer Jess Rona. We found her Instagram and website sometime last year and were blown away by her creativity. We then met Jess about a year ago at Super Zoo and truly enjoyed high-end yet mellow, down-to-earth approach to grooming. We got with Jess to ask her a few questions about her career in the grooming industry.
Jess tell us about yourself. How long have you been grooming? Where did you get your start?
I’ve been grooming for almost 20 years, which is crazy. (I started when I was 5, jk) I started as a bather at PetSmart when I was a teenager, and continued to work on my skills, and worked at a few shops as a groomer. Eventually I started Jess Rona Grooming in my garage where we’ve been for 5 years.
Is there anything specific you focus on in grooming? – i.e. Asian Fusion, etc.
I focus on bringing out the best style and expression for each individual dog, but I am definitely inspired by Asian fusion. I love to put my own spin on it.
Do you pursue any other artistic outlets or adventures? – i.e. acting, etc.
I’ve always been a big ham. I love a camera on me and have always loved acting. I was a class clown when I was a kid, and I’ve been chasing that laughter my whole life. I studied improv for 10 years, and it is so fun being on set. My Instagram has given me the opportunity to be a director, and that’s been really fun too. I work with a lot of brands and enjoy collaborating to make content.
Groom Expo West/Competitions
How did you start doing competitions?
I started back in 2012. I’ve always looked up to and admired the competitive groomers and loved watching them compete. It looked so fun, so I decided to enter some competitions.
How did it feel to win at Groom Expo West? What did you place? Tell us everything about the experience!
Groom Expo West was exhilarating! I placed first which I have never done in a competition! At first, I wasn’t sure I placed at all, it took forever to hear my name, and I was super bummed, and then it happened! They called my name. I was shocked. I’ve worked so hard, so I felt really validated. I placed 1st in the intermediate freestyle competition and can’t wait to go back.
We saw one of your classes at Groom Expo West about gentle touch and using positive energy with the dogs to calm them down – how have you perfected this technique over the years?
I have learned over the years that I need to communicate two major things to dogs; I’m in charge, and I respect you. My class was centered around this, and it is a real delicate dance. I communicate with dogs through extreme gentle touch, and confident corrections. I just hope people will benefit from these methods to make grooming an enjoyable and positive experience for everyone.
Well, we have to ask - what are your top 3 favorite products from Ryan’s Pet Supplies?
What is your favorite memory from grooming over the years?
Grooming Nugget (Katy Perry’s dog) for the first time when she was a tiny scrappy puppy with an ugly haircut. It has been so fun morphing her into the teddy bear that she is. See attached photo of her 1st makeover!
Is there anyone you’d like to thank for helping you along in your career?
Jay Scruggs, and Catherine Opson have been so unbelievably supportive of me throughout my whole career. Deanise Stoops gave me a private Bichon lesson when I was just starting out and didn’t charge me which I’ll be forever thankful. Suzanne Marchetti has also been a huge resource and teacher and has helped me a lot in learning to heal dogs’ skin.
What advice would you have for groomers just starting out?
Be patient with yourself! Work really hard on positive self-talk, especially when your grooms are not going the way you want them too. Be gentle with yourself, and practice gratitude.
What is a normal day in the life of Jess Rona really like? (Is there such a thing as normal 😉)
Lately it’s been juggling my new shop build out, my website/merch launch, finalizing designs and colors for the brand, and developing TV shows, all while running the business from my garage, and training my groomers. It’s been very exciting.
You have a new shop opening soon – how excited are you to have your own Brick and Mortar store?
I have never been this excited about anything in my life. The one thing I’m the most excited about is for my space to finally be open to the public so anyone can come visit! We will have a big soundproof glass door, and a cute lobby/store so you’ll be able to stop by and maybe watch a groom. I will finally be able to offer classes which I’ve been wanting to do for a while. So much to look forward to, I cannot wait for you guys to come visit.
You certainly have a bright future in the pet industry. You inspire many groomers and non-groomers alike. So, what’s next for Jess Rona?
Thank you! I love this community, and this is so cool. Aside from the new shop, the online store and website launch, I also have couple top secret projects I will hopefully be able to talk about soon!
Hot Dog Grooming Competition Show
After Jess submitted this interview, it was announced that she will be a judge in the upcoming HBO Max’s “Hot Dog,” which will have dog groomers competing in imaginative challenges each episode. If you are a dog groomer and interested in applying for the show, you can apply here. We cannot wait to watch this show and see one of our favorite Groomers, Jess Rona, serving up humor and commentary on these grooming challenges!
Jess, thank you for letting us interview you. We know it is getting harder to spare the time between getting your shop up and running, planning a grooming show, and all the other things that take up your day! We can’t wait to see what you have planned next!
Thanks for tuning into our blog! Stay tuned for more groomer interviews.