Tom Heaton-Clarke is the next Wow Grooming ambassador we'd like to introduce. He tells us about how he got the competition bug, starring on BBC's Pooch Perfect and his own dogs Badger, Merlin and Delilah.
You can catch up with the other interviews in the series here.
1. How did you first get into dog grooming and tell us a bit about your business
Originally I wanted to work in kennels like the Dogs Trust and help rehome rescue dogs but there were no jobs available and the places that were hiring required you to have an animal care qualification, so with a view to working towards that I started an apprenticeship as a dog groomer.
Soon after starting I fell in love with the industry and found there was a lot more to learn and aspire to - so I stuck with it. After two years I completed my level three diploma and decided to go self employed and rent a table at a local salon. Once lockdown started I converted a garage at my parents’ house into a small, professional salon and it's been very successful ever since! I now work with my fiancé Amy who is also a dog groomer and we really enjoy having our dogs with us every day and being one of the top-rated salons in Manchester.
2. Tell us about your achievements in the industry to date (any competition wins that you’re particularly proud of, milestones in your business, or anything else that comes to mind)
Soon after I started my apprenticeship I got the bug for grooming competitions. My teacher who trained me - Emma Darlington - took me with her and I loved the atmosphere and the whole idea of it. I entered my first novice class after three months of trimming experience and I’ve entered competitions regularly ever since. I've placed numerous times over the years in different classes; from handstrip to purebreed scissor, but my proudest achievement was getting reserve best in show at the Northern Ireland grooming competition with a handstrip sealyham terrier. I was also honoured to receive the City and Guilds Medal for Excellence during my time as an apprentice for the work and progress I had made. And of course I'm very proud of being one of the lucky few selected to appear on BBC One’s Pooch Perfect alongside some incredible groomers from around the UK.
3. What is the one Wow Grooming product that couldn’t live without in your grooming kit and why?
It's hard to decide on just one product I couldn't live without as they are all so good. If I had to choose it would be between the new sassy shampoo range which smells delicious and cleans the dogs immaculately OR the 10-inch long-pin comb with detailer as I use it every single day and absolutely adore it; it makes my life so much easier getting a nice finish on coats.
4. Can you share your top grooming hack / tip?
Prep is very important in grooming so my top tip would be to use mixing bottles for shampoo and apply it straight onto a dry coat. I find this cleans the coat much better and also saves your shampoo usage making your shampoo bottles last longer.
5. Do you have a dog yourself - tell us a bit about him / her?
Between me and my partner Amy we own three dogs; two blue merle poodles - Badger and Merlin - who are almost three and two years old. Badger is in an Asian Fusion style and Merlin is in a traditional German trim. They adore each other and everyone assumes they're siblings as they're so similar. Our third dog is Delilah the Kerry blue terrier who is five years old. She's the newest addition to the family and fits in very well with us; she's a gorgeous ex show dog who we recently started to compete with in purebreed scissor classes and looks stunning in her breed standard.