New York City-based Tommy has lived in New York City his entire life, and has been in the dog and cat grooming industry for over 15 years. We had a chat with the master groomer about his career, Doggy Stylez Grooming and what UK-based groomers can learn from the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

Hi Tommy. So, what can you tell me about your career?

I began my grooming career as a bather/fluffer, studying textbooks and learning from the most experienced groomers. Pearl Stone, author of “The Stone Guide to Dog Grooming for All Breeds”, unexpectedly walked into Doggy Stylez a few years ago and asked where I’d learned to groom. I pointed at her book, which to this day stands on my shelf at the shop, as she grinned and introduced herself. Throughout the years, I went on to better my skills and develop a unique artistry. 

In March 2022, we were recognised as being in the top 15 grooming shops in Manhattan. In January 2020 we were in the top 10, and in December 2019, I was recognized as “Best of Manhattan: Best Groomer” in the local newspaper. It’s a very humbling experience.

What can you tell me about grooming in New York?

Grooming in NYC is competitive. If you’re not their first choice, you won’t last very long.

One thing about grooming in NYC is you end up becoming part of a community. On one particularly unpleasant occasion, the shop had been burgled in the middle of the night and we received about six phone calls notifying us. It’s unbelievable how much the UES community comes together to help each other.

What key differences have you noticed between groomers in New York and groomers in the UK?

One thing I’ve noticed would be the difference in stylised cuts, a lot of Asian-inspired and Asian fusion styles. In NYC, a lot of people like what we call “floppy-scruffy” style, leaving them looking “put-together scruffy”.

What are some key thing that you think UK groomers can learn from New York-based groomers?

NY is a high-paced, high-stress environment, much like most grooming shops. Take care of yourself first. Your body and mind matter more than working five, six or seven days a week. Put yourself first and your clients and business will reap the benefits.

Are there any general thoughts you’d like to share with our readers?

I’d love to share something my father taught me. He would always tell me to work hard, continue doing what you love, and you will achieve your dreams. I pass that on to the readers; wether it’s owning your own grooming salon, having a fleet of mobile grooming vans, becoming a celebrity groomer or a colour specialist — keep at it and you will achieve your goals!

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