Check out this flashback interview from 2016 with Melissa Verplank and Colin Taylor. Join these two friends as they talk their passion for education and their books Notes from the Grooming Table (Second Edition) and What Would Colin Do?
My husband, Marc and I are back from a four-week working road trip. For the past few years, we’ve traveled for almost the entire month of March. After all – who wants to be in Michigan in March? Each Spring, we’ve loaded up our bikes, kayaks, dogs, and filming gear and hit the road.
The trip this year started out with the Atlanta Pet Fair before heading south to Florida. Our itinerary included lots of work but also plenty of downtime. We kayaked with the manatees in Crystal Springs and enjoyed the unbelievable clarity of the Rainbow River. On one of the rivers we kayaked, we came a bit too close to a large alligator sunning himself on the bank. I swear it looked like an old tire sitting on the river bank – until it MOVED! We paddled away very quickly!
We attended the Live Oaks International Horse Show where we watched show jumping and the exhilarating marathon driving event. The show jumping took me back to my younger years when I showed hunters and jumpers. With each stride and jump, I was right there with the rider.
I had never seen a marathon driving event before – what a blast! Top carriage drivers maneuvered their horse(s) through a complex pattern of VERY solid obstacles in the quickest time possible. It was thrilling to watch these skilled teams flying through the obstacles.
Soon we were headed to the west side of South Florida where we spent some great quality time with Marc’s family.
Then the work started.
We had multiple Learn2GroomDogs.com film shoots with some amazing people. We filmed with Randi Sands, Irina (Pina) Pinkusevich, and Joshua Morales. We then toured Kathy Rose’s new salon, Pets of Perfection. From there, we drove to Orlando to film with Lindsey Dicken. As soon as we finished, we drove to see Angela Kumpe for some creative grooming just outside Little Rock, Arkansas.
Filming and learning with these talented stylists was amazing. One thing really stood out: the increased use of thinning shears. They’re being used more often and the variety of thinners and blenders is growing. It seems they are becoming as important to everyone’s collections as smooth bladed shears.
Finally, it was time to return to Michigan, but we had one more stop to make. As we made our way home, we stopped at our St. Louis office to visit our newest team member, Joe Zuccarello, and meet his family for the first time.
We made it home just in time for the last gasp of Winter. Being on the road was a wonderful experience. It was an amazing trip filled with a nice balance of work and down time.
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The Atlanta Pet Fair was the kickoff for trade shows east of the Mississippi. To my husband Marc and myself, the Atlanta Pet Fair signals a month-long road trip in our motor coach.
I love this trip. As we drive from the frigid north country, we see spring explode as we drive south. Instead of seeing a season slowly wake up, we see it in full bloom in a matter of hours. I get so excited as I see the first daffodils, the first red buds blooming, and the leaves just giving a hint of green. By the time we hit Atlanta, spring is upon us. It’ll only be a matter of time before our kayaks will be in the water and our bikes hit the trails.
After the Atlanta Pet Fair, we schedule film shoots for Learn2GroomDogs.com. We enjoy filming Training Partners in their salons and many of live in the southern section of the United States. We’ve gotten very good at combining work and relaxing downtime for ourselves.
Normally our schedule is very rigid, but this year we cut ourselves some slack. Between the Atlanta Pet Fair and our first film shoot, we had a little bit of unscheduled time.
As we were just starting our trip, Delise of Bardel Bows contacted me. She and her husband Paul invited us to spend some time with them at their home, Pineola Farms. A few industry friends had shared with me how unique their home was. This southern plantation was established in 1865. In 1997 they bought the farm. Delise and Paul fell in love with the property’s rich history. They have taken it upon themselves to be the caretakers of this property while keeping the original family history firmly in place.
We have been acquaintances with Paul and Delise Knight for years but never really gotten to know them. At trade shows I’ve always been impressed with the volume of beautiful bows they had at their booth. They always seemed to be busy.
We left directly from the convention center after the Atlanta Pet Fair. The farm was less than two hours down the road.
I knew their barn had been used for special events and weddings for the previous 10 years. However, Bardel Bows had grown so quickly in the past few years they opted to stop doing events. Recently, they moved the bow company into the barn.
The barn was huge. It had a warm, friendly, and rustic elegance to it. The views from the lower level were amazing over the pecan orchard. Every bit of the space was functional. When I toured the work areas, I just smiled. It was more than just the gorgeous bows making me smile. It was their passion and attention to detail.
Success comes from sweating the details. Paul and Delise make a great team when it comes to details. Their personalities complement each other perfectly.
We were amazed at the level of professionalism and organization we saw at their headquarters. The VOLUME of bows and accessories – it blew my mind!! Every week Paul makes the rounds to their home based bow makers. He drops off supplies and picks up thousands of finished items.
Delise gave me a tour of the upper level of the barn. I was so honored. Not everyone gets to see this area. It’s very private and the creative nerve center of Bardel Bows. I could have stayed there for DAYS letting my own creative juices flow!
Delise and Paul have carved out a special niche in the grooming industry with their beautiful bows and accessories. However, their commitment to serve others goes way deeper than just running a successful bow business.
Mary Kay Ash said, “Give of yourself. Be of service to others. Only what you give can be multiplied back into your own life.”
We learned quickly that Paul and Delise live by this Mary Kay Ash quote. I think it’s a part of the warm southern culture. We saw and heard how they implement this thought every day in their lives, home, business, community, and how they interact with their employees and their customers.
Here is just one tiny example. They gave out over 600 cupcakes at the Atlanta Pet Fair to venders and clients simply to introduce a new line of bows. The new line was introduced in the early spring of 2018 and called the Cupcake Collection.
If you haven’t tried Bardel Bows to accessorize your grooms, I encourage you to give them a try. Their bows and accessories are fabulous. You can even find our older Maremma Sheepdog, Pearl modeling a large Fancy Spring Frill collar and a princess crown. Plus, I guarantee you’ll have a wonderful experience with their entire team!
What are your favorite grooming products? Let’s talk about it on our Facebook page with your Melissa Verplank family.
Spring is here – and not a moment too soon! Many of us will be seeing a lot of pets that are ready for a great makeover in the coming weeks.
As many of you know, I’m a big dog person. Working on these large furry dogs that have a huge shedding problem is one of my favorite things to do in a grooming salon. Over the years I’ve gotten really quick with the process and rarely cringe, no matter what the size of the dog, nor the condition.
Working on a dirty dog is not only unpleasant, but it also takes longer to do. There will be a lot of coat damage and breakage. A dirty coat is dry and brittle. The dirt and dander trapped within the fur makes it more difficult to brush out. Working on a clean coat will be easier for both you and the pet – and much more enjoyable.
If there are large chunks that water cannot penetrate, go ahead and break up the tangle using the tool that is safe for the pet. Don’t worry about removing it completely, just break it apart so the water and shampoo can do their job.
Prepare your bathing area. If the dog is exceptionally dirty, use a shampoo especially designed for dirty dogs. Using a follow-up treatment of a skin and coat conditioner after bathing twice (or maybe three times in some areas) will assist with the brush out and dead coat removal during the drying process. Make sure you have all the tools you’ll need to aid in getting the dog clean, like rubber curries or scrub brushes. Make sure you have plenty of towels handy!
My favorite trick when working with this type of job is to bring my high velocity dryer right into the bathing area. With the dog fully lathered, blow the shampoo right off the pet while it is tethered in the tub. The slippery soap will allow the dirt, loose coat, and tangles slide out. The clumps will be trapped in the shampoo and will stick to the back wall of the tub, minimizing the mess. Not all the shedding coat or mats will be removed but a lot will, making your job easier once you transfer to the drying table. Once you have blown out the pet, follow up with the rinsing process. Repeat this process as many times as necessary to get the dog “squeaky clean.”
Once the pet is clean and thoroughly rinsed, apply a skin and coat conditioning treatment before heading to the drying table. Read your directions: some conditioning treatments need to be rinsed out while others do not. Your high velocity dryer and a heavy slicker brush will be your best friends during the drying process.
First, blow out as much moisture and loose coat at possible with the air flow. Use the highest power setting the pet is comfortable with along with a condenser cone. Once you have pushed as much water and loose fur from the pet, remove the condenser cone and bring the air flow close to the pet’s skin. “Boost” any loose coat out of the dog by lightly patting the area with a slicker brush where the air is striking the skin.
Continue to work over the dog in a methodical manner until your brush glides through the coat easily and no more loose coat is trapped in the brush.
When the dog is complete, it should smell clean and fresh. The coat should be glossy and float freely as the dog moves. There should be an irresistible desire to reach down and bury your hands in a freshly groomed pet.
What are your favorite tools and shampoos to use for those tough jobs? What secret tricks did we miss? Let’s talk about it on our Facebook page with your Melissa Verplank family.