In this Groomers Spotlight, we are thrilled to introduce Jess Rona, the influential groomer who has taken social media by storm.
With her iconic slow-mo blowout videos and an impressive list of celebrity clients, Jess has built a cult-like following. She is not only an award-winning groomer and instructor but also a talented content creator and comedian. Join us for this insightful Jess Rona interview with Doglyness, exploring the secrets behind her success and her unwavering passion for dog grooming.
Jess Rona is an award-winning groomer, instructor and comedian!
Can you tell us about your background and how you got into dog grooming?
When I was 18, I got a job as a bather at PetSmart in Reseda, CA, to make some extra money to buy a car. I never thought I would become a groomer. I didn’t know anything about dogs when I started. I had always wanted to be an actress. After working with dogs for a while, I realized how much I loved it. For a while, I was pursuing both acting and grooming. I was waiting tables at restaurants, grooming dogs part-time and going on auditions. It was madness. I moved to NYC and started doing improv comedy and loved it. But I had stopped grooming all together when I was there and missed it. I moved back to LA and decided I wanted to get really good at grooming and improv. Those were my passions. I got a job working with some great groomers who helped me, and I was fortunate to have mentors and teachers guide me along the way. Shout out to Jay Scruggs, who was my first mentor. In 2012 I started competing in grooming competitions and placed with a Bichon. Now, looking back, I realize my journey was all meant to be. It definitely seems like dog grooming chose me.
What inspired you to start your own dog grooming business, and how did you build it into the empire it is today?
I didn’t really want to start a business. I was still auditioning and wanted to be an actress, so that was my focus. I found a house in the Hollywood Hills for rent, and there was a garage that was perfect for grooming dogs. So, I got a little bathtub from a groomer friend who was moving out of the state and got a table, and that’s how it all began. It was just so I could groom dogs to make some extra money before I went to work and on the weekends. But…. I got fired! I got fired because I kept having to leave work to go to auditions. And it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I am so fortunate that I had this little garage set up in my house so I could stay afloat. That said, getting clients took a while. I passed out flyers at dog parks and asked friends to spread the word. it was really slow for a while. I groomed in my garage next to my car, so it wasn’t a big fancy operation. Then one day, I was listening to music while I was blow-drying a dog, and her ears flew up in the air, and I filmed it with my phone. I started making these slo-mo videos of dogs blowing in the wind to music, and the videos went viral. That’s how the empire began. Instagram put eyes on my little business, and people wanted to come over so much more after that.
Jess went viral with her slo-mo blowout videos of her fur-clients.
You've worked with several celebrities and high-profile clients. Can you share any interesting stories or experiences you've had while grooming their pets?
One of the coolest experiences was when I was asked to do grooming for Katy Perry’s Small Talk music video. There were tons of dogs, and Katy is just the sweetest person, it was a really cool moment in my career. I love her so much; she has been so loyal and incredible to have as a client.
What sets your grooming style and techniques apart from others in the industry?
I was an early Instagram user, and I looked at it as an opportunity to view different grooming styles from around the world. I took my knowledge of breed standards and mixed it with Asian-style haircuts to create my own style. It took years of practice to develop my own grooming style. I’ve been lucky to have had so many wonderful teachers like Irina Pinkusevich and Cat Opsen throughout the years. I learned about balance and structure but also to have fun and be creative. Learning never stops, I just had a trip of a lifetime to Seoul and got a little private lesson from my favourite groomer in the world, Joeun from Shu & Tree, so I’m always looking for ways to continue developing my own signature style.
As part of our Jess Rona interview with Doglyness, can you talk about any new or upcoming grooming trends that you're excited about?
It’s so exciting to see more groomers start prioritizing self-care in their daily routines. When I started grooming, that was very much not the case. I want to change the industry when it comes to integrating self-care and energy techniques into the grooming process. We’re humans, not machines, so we can’t be expected to work non-stop, run a business, and put out high-quality work if we’re not putting our mental and physical health first. When we’re running on a full tank, that ensures better grooming results and a safer environment for the dog. It’s a win-win, baby.
Do you have a particular style of grooming, or breed that you enjoy working with the most at Jess Rona Grooming?
I love Poodles! Or any poodle mix or curly-coated dog.
Jess loves working with poodles & curly-coated pups.
How do you prioritize the health and wellbeing of the dogs you work with, while still achieving a great grooming result?
I look for behavioural clues to respond to with gentle touch. I’m a firm believer in self-care for groomers, so I make sure to regulate my own energy so I can connect with the dog while we work. I have a whole course on it that is launching in July 2023! Stay tuned!
What advice would you give to new groomers just starting out in the industry? Any tips for how to create the right business mindset in the dog grooming industry?
Have a ton of patience for yourself and for the dogs you’re grooming. It takes years to speak dog, it takes years to get good at your handling and technical skills. Having a positive mindset and positive self-talk is key. In general, your business is an entity that grows with you as you grow as a person. My biggest advice for business owners is to have a really strong support team around you (business strategist, therapist, friends, etc) because having a business is really hard. The more you grow as a person, the more your business will grow. If anyone is interested in my JRG Business Magic Course, make sure you’re on my email list!
Jess offers online courses for groomers and pet parents.
You offer a range of online courses for pet parents and groomers. What inspired you to launch these courses, and what can groomers and pet parents expect from them?
Yes! I really want to change the grooming industry, and I knew if I had an online course, any groomer in the world could watch it, and I could help them. I want to show groomers that you can have a beautiful business and a beautiful relationship with clients, dogs, and yourself. For pet parents, I really want to help dogs, honestly. Because the more educated a pet parent is, the better-taken care of the dog will be. I’m on a mission! I also really want to highlight that dogs are energy readers in all my courses. It’s not just about the technical side of grooming, it’s also about the energetic side of grooming.
You also talk a lot about the importance of self-care for dog groomers. Why should self-care be a #1 priority for dog groomers, and how can it impact their business?
It’s so common for groomers to neglect themself because we are racing the clock all day. But if we are not mindful of how we’re taking care of ourselves, everything around us will be affected. For the sanity and longevity of your career, I feel like it’s an important thing to keep on your radar.
How do you choose the products you use in your grooming salon, and what factors are important to you when selecting them?
We look for special products that will create hydrated, healthy coats for our clients. We spare no expense when it comes to products, and we want the very best. We LOVE that Doglyness is mindful about the environment, and we love products that don’t dry out our hands when washing the pups.
What's next for Jess Rona Grooming, and what goals do you have for the future of your business?
My goals are to release my own product line and have a TV show, a Youtube channel, and a podcast.
Jess Rona’s grooming journey is a testament to the power of passion, perseverance, and creativity. Her unique grooming style, combined with comedic flair, has gained her a dedicated following (us included!), and her emphasis on self-care and energy techniques creates a positive impact both on groomers and the dogs they work on. With ambitious goals for the future, including her own product line and media ventures, Jess Rona continues to inspire and elevate the world of dog grooming. We’d like to send a special thank you to Jess for sharing some incredibly valuable insights with our Doglyness tribe as part of this Jess Rona interview with Doglyness!
Make sure to give Jess a follow on Instagram, Youtube and Tiktok to see some of her awesome content. You can also find her grooming hub at Jess Rona Grooming, where you can check out her services, resources and more. And head to Jess Rona Courses to access tons of valuable courses online courses for both dog groomers and pet parents!