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Interview with Renowned Groomer and GroomTeam USA-Member Anne Francis

It’s been a busy year or two for professional groomer Anne Francis—she made GroomTeam USA, has been competing on a regular basis, and even got married! Never one to shy away from pushing the envelope, Anne has enjoyed a long career that has seen her gain a reputation as a mixed-breed specialist with a penchant for perfecting new and innovative styles. Anne recently came by our office for a photo shoot, and we sat down with her to chat about her influences, her career, and some of the incredible experiences she’s had along the way.

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PetEdge: What initially drew you to the world of professional grooming? Did you always know you wanted to be a professional groomer? 

Anne Francis: I didn’t always know I wanted to be a groomer, but I always knew I wanted to work with animals, since I was born. I thought I was going to be a veterinarian, but I started college pre vet, and it just didn’t work out for me. I went to a trade show and saw a grooming school advertised, and my parents said, “Well, are you going to go back to college? Are you going to get a job? What are you going to do?” And so I started grooming. I originally went to grooming school to keep my parents off my back for a year, but I’m still doing it, and I love it.

PE: When you were just starting out as a professional groomer, were there any groomers you really looked up to, or any who took you under their wing to help you get your start?

AF: Yes, definitely. Liz Paul was a very big inspiration. Actually, where I worked, one of my instructors also worked. They were going to a show, the New England Show, and they said, “You should compete,” and I thought to myself, “Oh, I just go to school, I don’t know if I should.” But I did, and it was a lot of fun. There are so many people, so many mentors out there, like Sue Zecco, Linda Kay, too many others to mention. I started grooming 20 years ago, so between now and then, there have been a lot of people in my industry that I look up to.

PE: Are you still involved with GroomTeam USA? What’s it like representing your country on the international stage?

 

AF: Well, I’m not going internationally, because I’m only ranked in the top 10—you have to be ranked in the top 4 to go internationally. I made GroomTeam last year, and I’m currently on GroomTeam this year. There’s four more shows this year, I THINK I’ve secured my place for this year, but I don’t know if I’ll be in the top four. They take the top four out of two years, so you have two years to pick your top score, so I’m hoping that either this year or next year I’ll make the travel team.

PE: What is the most memorable experience you’ve had in the contest ring?

AF: [Laughs] There have been SO many. You know, I may have placed, but I beat THAT person who’s ranked #1 or #2. But believe it or not, I groomed a rescue dog last year. It was the invitational, so the grand prize was a 10-day cruise, the cover of a national magazine, and a thousand dollars, and I ended up winning! I got engaged on the cruise, and then we went out to Las Vegas in July, where we got married at the competition out there. I groomed in my wedding gown for the jackpot, and everybody else got dressed up, and it was really cool.

PE: Wow, that IS really cool! Where’d the cruise go?

AF: [Laughs] Um, Aruba? Somewhere else, too—I can’t even remember. This whole year’s been such a whirlwind. I’m gone every month, so it’s like, “Where was I?” [Laughs] All I know is it was great—10 days of awesome.

PE: [Laughs] That’s outstanding! Shifting back to competitive grooming—is there any breed you prefer to groom competitively, or any style you’ve perfected for competitions?

AF: It’s funny, a friend of mine who is a fellow competitor (in a lower level)—she’s referred to me as the “Queen of Mixed Breeds”, which is like this style [motions to dog]. She’s a pure-bread poodle. I’d have to say, poodles are my favorite, however the freestyle or mixed-breed class I love because you can do anything to them. However, Kerry Blues seem to be my most-winning breed that I compete with. I do love the mixed-breed competitions, or the purebreads not groomed like a purebread, because you can introduce a different style—like you can bring a tail from this breed, a head from this breed, or you can just make something up.

PE: What advice would you give to a aspiring professional or competitive groomer?

AF: Go to as many grooming shows, seminars, competitions, dog shows, just constantly learn, learn, learn—just take it all in, Take everything with a grain of salt, and have a thick skin.

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