Many of us were startled by the sudden closure of Dog World and ProGroomer Magazine a few weeks ago. BIGA has had the privilege of talking to Natalie Lucas, ProGroomer Magazine's former Editor and, in case you didn't know, also a professional pet groomer.
Here, in Natalie's own words, a brief history of her time at ProGroomer.
NATALIE: I was very lucky to train to be a dog groomer at Absolutely Animals under Heidi and Christine Anderton and Colin Taylor. At the time, I had a full-time job editing Running Free magazine, so my entry into the grooming world was a slow and painful one. Heidi was always encouraging me to get out there and start up, but I was a nervous wreck. Eventually, in late 2012, I opened my own grooming studio - a tiny shed in my back garden and named it Dolly Dogs (after my feisty Jack Russell - Dolly).
With hindsight, I should have worked in a grooming salon for a while to gain confidence. However, I started grooming one or two dogs a week on my own - and not many people returned.
The following year, the running magazine closed down because of financial problems. I looked around for other editorial work and came across ProGroomer (PG) owned by Dog World.
I sent in my CV and they called immediately, shocked to find an editor who was also a dog groomer. I wrote a couple of articles for them and by the October I was the Editor.
Within a few issues I changed the style of the magazine and made it look a lot more modern. Being a groomer, and an editor, I felt I was in a unique position to provide interesting and much-needed content for the mag. I had found my calling working with dogs in two very different capacities. A year later my grooming skills improved as I became more confident and, thankfully, customers started coming back.
I loved editing PG and was so lucky to meet loads of groomers of all levels at the seminars and competitions I attended with PG - alongside my colleague, and now good friend, Gary Doran, who was the sales manager. Thank you to everyone that took their time to come and say hello on the PG stand and tell us how much they loved the magazine.
My favourite part of PG was interviewing a groomer and writing up ‘In your Salon’. It’s fascinating finding out how people got into grooming and how much they love their job and are constantly pushing themselves to achieve more. I know the Grooming Guide was much loved by the readers but this was the hardest part of the mag. Trying to get a groomer free for the day with two particular breeds that were ready to be groomed - and the video man available - was quite a task. I’d like to thank everyone that took part in the Grooming Guides. I’m sure the videos and picture features have helped many a groomer in their work.
Dog World mostly used a freelancer to design PG and I’d like to remember John Clement, with whom I worked with in the first couple of years. John sadly passed away in 2015. I’d also like to thank Caroline Robinson who did a fantastic job of designing PG, bringing her own style and flair to it. Also, thanks go out to writers that include Eileen Geeson, Cat Henstridge, Kristina Johansen, Tanya Stevens and, more recently, Ellie Stanf and anyone that contributed to the magazine.
I’d also like to thank fellow local groomer Sue Angliss. Sue has helped me in many ways to improve my grooming: from helping me groom large breeds but, more importantly, to the small things, like reminding me to keep my blades clean, get customers to re-book every time, charge my worth and repaint my salon regularly.
My biggest Thank You goes out to Gary Doran who drove with me every year up and down the country to all the amazing competitions and seminars. He always made me laugh and he was so passionate about the magazine and the industry. I was surprised about how much he had learnt about grooming since the start of the magazine in 2010 and I’m pleased to let you know he is now becoming a dog groomer and loves it.
I had absolutely no idea that Dog World was in financial difficulty and it was going into administration. I apologise to anyone we sold a subscription to in the last year and they have not received the latest issue or future issues. It was such a shame for everyone to lose their jobs at Dog World and for a newspaper that has been going since the 1920s to be closed down.
I have recently moved house and have a brand new and bigger salon next to my house. Due to back problems, I can only groom part-time. However, I continue to enjoy the challenge of dog grooming every day. After five years in the industry I can say I not only love my job but I’m finally good at it! I will miss PG and will look for another part-time journalistic/editing role at some point in the future.