As you well know, here at The Hills we are crazy about our pets and all wildlife, and we take great pride in giving our furry friends the best lives possible. We have our resident vet expert Dugie here to give advice on their health and wellbeing, and we’re now lucky to have Bradie Falshaw from Lady and The Tramp in our Directory to get help them look as cute and clean as possible (a challenge given many of our rural locations)!
I had the pleasure of catching up with Bradie, a friend of mine whose talents I can wholeheartedly vouch for as she often waves her magic wand on my Westie who goes in like a tramp and returns looking like a fluffy cloud!
How did you first get started as a dog groomer?
I wasn’t very scholarly, in fact I didn’t enjoy school at all and wanted to leave as soon as possible. I was certain, even at that age that I wanted to go straight into a vocation of my own when I left. As a child our family pet was a very hairy New Foundland dog that I used to shave in our garage with horse clippers to keep him groomed, so I knew I enjoyed caring for and grooming animals. My mum suggested I should explore it as a possible business, and thankfully at just 16 years old, I was eligible for funding from the Welsh Government to do my training! 14 weeks later I had my advance qualifications! Then, one of my friends who I met in college opened her own salon so I worked for her for a couple of days week to build my experience.
And your next step was your own business?
My grandad used to own ‘Falshaws’, a shop in the main square in Caerwys for many years, and so my dad managed to persuade him to let me open my own salon in his store room! I saved up for 6 months for clippers, hydronic table, bath, blaster (hair dryer) blades and scissors, and my dad built the dog pens at the back!
What was it like when you opened?
It was great! I loved it. My first client was an apricot standard poodle who still comes for hair cuts now so I can’t have done such a bad job!
How did you grow and what are your dreams from Lady and the Tramp?
At first, I built my client list by doing local leaflet drops, posting on my Facebook page and via word of mouth. Gradually the business has grown and now I have a waiting list and clients need to book well in advance. My daughter is 3 now though and off to school in September, so I will be able to include a couple more mornings to my working week to reduce the wait for my clients, and hopefully remain busy. My dream for the business is to remain small and local, and just to be fully booked as I add more hours when Delilah is full time in school. I currently work with 30 dogs a week over 3 days, and I am proud that I know all my customers and all my dogs names - that’s how I would like it if I was to take my own dog somewhere.
Do you have any advice for dog owners on grooming their animals?
One of my main aims is to encourage owners to read more about the dog they are buying before they take it on - I’d really like more families to do their homework properly before they decide on a suitable breed. I would advise all dog owners to research the grooming requirements of a dog, who may need professional grooming every month to 6 weeks to maintain a healthy condition, not simply receive a pamper once a year. Even if I think that the owners may not be totally receptive to my advice, I make sure I say it anyway. It’s my business and I will run it for the good of the animals first and foremost. For example a dog that has hair so matted will be sure to be in a a lot of pain when I groom it. It is totally unfair on the poor animal to put it through the discomfort of living with matts and the pain of grooming them to remove them!
What do you love the most about running your own business?
I love every second of running my own business, and always have - I’m the one in control, am able to take holidays when I need (even though I’ve not had time off this year at all)! My work can be as flexible as I wish it to be. However, it can be quite stressful when we are busy and I often work long hours so that my clients don’t have to wait too long to book in. I have a lovely connection to my clients and their dogs, and all my bichons wave at me now! I love my waggy labradors (even if they do get you soaking wet) and I am delighted to be back living and working in Caerwys where there is such a tight community.