We just finished up our October 2014 school session at the National Cat Groomers School. We are 1 session away from wrapping up our 5th year of being in business as a school (the NCGIA has been around since 2007). I am amazed. I all too clearly remember that dreary November day in 2009 when my husband and I sat out in the car with our realtor after just walking through what was to later become the NCGS building. The place was in major need of a makeover before it could be anything. It was old, worn, neglected and freezing cold inside. But I had a dream. A dream to build a school where people from all over the world could come to learn the art of grooming cats and building a successful business. Even when others told me it was a bad idea, that it wouldn’t succeed, that it was too expensive or too much work or that no one would come, I held fast to what I knew deep down in my bones: build it right, and they will come!
A mere month after securing the building, we set to work transforming this early 1900s home-turned-business into the world’s first feline-exclusive training school. We put in long nights, full weekends, and lots of climbing on ladders wielding a hammer or paintbrush. In mid-January we officially opened for business, just 10 days after obtaining our license from the state of SC. Four people signed up for that first class. Four brave souls took a chance and went down the road no one else had taken. Many more followed in the weeks and months to come. If there’s one thing I know now, it’s that our program works. It works really well.
Over the years I’ve had the awesome pleasure of rejoicing in the successes of many graduates of the National Cat Groomers School. You can call it “hamburger university” or “kitty college” or a scam or whatever you want (actual names given to our school). But here’s what it really is: a place where adventurous and determined people develop into rockstar cat ninja warriors, hone their skills, become inspired, and set out to do amazing things.
I’m thinking about my week ahead and realize it includes a video with Rachel Diller, a CFMG and grad of the school who opened Urban Sophisticats Feline-Exclusive Spa and just recently ended up in a news article (YET AGAIN!) because of her awesome cat grooming skills and keen business sense. My week also includes Sally Staples, CFMG and grad of the school located in British Columbia. She’ll be the star of my next webinar because…..well, because she’s a star. And then Friday when I head to FL to attend Fun in the Sun, I’ll be doing a Danelle Drops In video shoot at a salon belonging to recent grad and CFMG, Paula Hudson. I hear her cat grooming business is really taking off, and she’s so thrilled with the skills and knowledge she gained here at the school.
I just saw a post on FB where a cat that was previously groomed (amazingly so!) by Helena Schmid, CFMG, cat show judge, and graduate living near Zurich, Switzerland is now being groomed by Gabi Tiefenbrunn, CFMG, graduate and mobile groomer in Tucson, AZ. How’s that for a referral? Both of these ladies are amazing cat groomers and savvy business owners (you can check out the 3 webinars that feature Gabi in the NCGIA webinar library).
Last month I was in Canada doing a workshop and attending the grand opening of PreZoomably Cats, owned by grad and CFMG, Connie Buchanan. Connie has built herself a nifty empire up there in Saskatchewan, keeping herself incredibly busy with the new feline-exclusive boarding and grooming facility that is attached to her other business, Zoom Zoom Groom (for dogs). And then there’s Emma and Patrick, husband and wife CFMG/graduates duo in OH that are in the middle of building their connected-but-totally-separate dog and cat grooming/boarding facility. Which just made me think of Susan Cessarini, CFMG and grad in Nevada, who has both a large boarding facility and now the additional grooming services that keep her running 90 miles an hour all week long.
Today during the graduation lecture I told the story of Kevin Beck, hairstylist-turned-CFMG-cat-groomer who shared during class over 2 years ago his goal of opening Cat and the Fiddle grooming salon 1 year later but actually went on to open the salon a few months later. Which makes me think of Lisa Menze who went from being a dog groomer that didn’t really give much thought to cats to owning and operating Cattitude in Tampa Bay area and then took up showing Bengals and doing all sorts of crazy cat business related stuff. And that makes me think of Michelle Auld in Darwin, Australia who added cat grooming services to her salon after graduating from our school and earning her CFMG and then went on to groom cats for show, winning accolades and lovely compliments from cat show judges. And she makes me think of Reeda Close who opened Nose2Tail for cats right beside Nose2Tail for dogs and can’t keep up with all the business she has made for herself. Reeda made a snap decision a few years ago to hop a plane (with a mere 2-weeks notice) from Brisbane to Greenville, SC to attend the National Cat Groomers School. I feel sure she would tell you her snap decision has paid off nicely.
I could go on and on.
It’s Friday and I am all alone here in the school building, students and staff having just left after another session has come to an end. Except for the cats. Fern, Petunia, C2, Coco, and Finn are here with me. And Dollar. We can’t forget about Dollar. Good kitties, all of them. Working hard to build the cat grooming industry, living in a building that houses a school that would never succeed. Sometimes dreams do come true.

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