When I was a child, they asked all of us what we wanted to be when we grew up. Some boy said he wanted to be an astronaut, a girl said she wanted to be a teacher, somebody else said they wanted to be a police officer… and apparently, I said I wanted to be a writer and drawer. I say apparently because I don’t remember a single thing about that part of my life. I have a horrible memory! But my parents told me that I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and I believe them, because ever since I CAN remember, I’ve wanted to be a writer.
My dad has piles of stories and novels and book attempts that I wrote through-out my life and he’s always cherished them, and I never understood why, until I had my own children. Then the reason became very obvious to me.
I did stop writing at some point of my life, and that’s when I became a groomer. For some reason, my brain did not relate my newly acquired skills and career to my original passion for writing. Life happened, of course, and I suddenly found myself only writing about other topics that had nothing to do with my career and love for grooming. It was as if I had to pick: loving to write or loving grooming, and it wasn’t obvious to me how one could relate to the other.
Suddenly Mr. Steve Dale and Mr. Bill Schroeder happened. I was sitting there, listening to fantastic orators, telling me things that I already knew but linking both topics together in a way that somehow I wasn’t able to imagine myself, and suddenly, there it was. What my brain hadn’t been able to do after 4 years of grooming… relate my love and passion for grooming to my love and passion for writing. If it wasn’t for them, I would probably still be here, thinking about so many things concerning my groomer life, my business owner life, my grooming academy, and my local industry situation, and tossing all those thoughts and feelings into the vast unknown realm of the unsaid.
For more info on Mr. Steve Dale, visit his website at https://www.stevedalepetworld.com/
To learn more about Mr. Bill Schroeder, visit his company website at https://intouchvet.com/
So here I am, writing. Here I am doing something I love: writing. And writing about something I love: grooming. Isn’t that amazing?
So, who am I? My name is Andrea Sleeper and I am currently living in San Antonio, Texas. I own the Pink Poodle Professional Grooming brand and have a couple of grooming salons. I also started the San Antonio Grooming Academy and the Grooming Academy of Texas once I started teaching in other cities outside of San Antonio. I am the main instructor and recruiter of the academy too. I am happily married to my soulmate Allan Sleeper, and we have 3 beautiful children: Allison, Logan and Luke (who is my angel baby and passed away in 2017).
I started my life like a lot of other people, going to school so I can make something of myself later once I had a little piece of paper in my hands that would vouch for my knowledge and skills. I went to the best university in Latin America for my BA, I went to one of the best universities in The Netherlands for my concentration, I went to a Texas university for my Masters… only to end up looking for a job somewhere. Anywhere. And when I got one, I hated it. I started aiming at Vet school because after years of my life being spent on a degree, I decided I would finally spend my time and money trying to make a career out of something I loved: animals! Couldn’t make a living out of writing, of course! So I started Vet school and studied for 2 years, only to not be able to continue after I decided to not return to my hometown because of this cute boy named Allan I met over a short stay in San Antonio, who begged me to not leave… and I didn’t. Suddenly I found myself working in a “dog shop” called Pink Poodle learning the trade under my new boyfriend’s mom tutoring and at some point I stopped and asked myself: What am I doing here? What’s happening right now? I have a BA in International Relations with a Concentration in European Studies and Cultures and a Master’s Degree in International Marketing and Communication… and I love it here. I love what I’m doing. I love what I’m learning. I love coming to work every day. This is it. This is where I was supposed to be all along and God brought me here and this is what he wants for me. I could feel it in my heart: I had finally found my life career.
I quickly became 4th Generation groomer of the Pink Poodle (since my poor mother-in-law didn’t have any girls and none of her boys were interested in her trade) which has been open since 1962. I learned how to run the business, how to do the numbers, how to groom dogs with high quality in the least amount of time possible, and how to make money out of it. I started old, mind you. This all happened in 2013 when I was already a whopping 25 years old. You know those groomers that say “I’ve been doing this since I could walk, my mom would bring me to the salon every day, I learned to bathe when I was 3 years old and by the time I was 10 I was already doing AKC breed standard competition cuts on Poodles”? I am not one of those groomers. I had an office job. I was a server. I studied for many years of my life before or while I was at that. I started late. And I started under a very busy business that had absolutely no connection to the rest of the grooming world on the outside. When you’re in a salon that busy, and you live hanging to every paycheck and every month’s report, you forget to invest in your trade. You forget to learn new things and to take risks. Especially when you’re learning under a person that does everything old school. In 2017 I decided to expand my horizons and open a second Pink Poodle in the city of Converse, Texas. I also decided, after encountering the never ending issues of rotational staff and lack of skilled applicants, to open my own grooming school. It was then, when I was by myself, that I realized there had to be a better way to grooming and a better way to doing things in a professional salon. I wanted to elevate it, somehow. But everything I had learned was aimed at being a “shop”, more like a neighborhood mom and pop shop, and not a prestige salon. Why couldn’t we be like one of those gorgeous hair salons where you feel you’re getting poorer just by stepping on their beautiful polished floors or by just asking a question to one of those well manicured stylists sitting behind the chair? So I started researching on the internet and reaching out on social media…. And, oh boy. The things I found.
I found national associations dedicated to the certification of dog stylists. I found associations of groomers all over the country, connecting to share tips, tricks, and to help each other. I found that there were grooming competitions and breed standard cuts that sometimes look nothing like what we do on pets. I found out that there are classes, seminars, speeches and expos full of people that love grooming and that want to learn more from OTHER people that also love grooming but that have grown their names and reputations in different ways.
I was blown away. And ever since, I decided to start my way into becoming a better professional. And that’s how I fell into that chair, listening to Mr. Steve Dale and Mr. Bill Schroeder at the Groom Texas Expo in Houston. And that’s how I got here, to write this, so you can read it.
Let this new adventure begin.