A Brush With Pet Grooming Led To Vanity Fur

By Robert Gebelhoff
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.


Blueberry facial cream, pink hair dye and a whole lot of dogs, these are just a few things that could be found at Cori Bliesner’s pet grooming boutique, Vanity Fur.

The Milwaukee-area shop offers jobs for its four professional groomers with rarely a dull moment since it opened in 2008.

Bliesner’s 18-year career satisfies her passion for working with animals and also gives her the chance to be creative.
What does she do?

“The biggest thing we do is bathing, blow-drying, brushing, hair cuts, we make dogs look and feel their best. Nail-trimming and cleaning their ears, it’s pet styling. People love their dogs and cats, so we try to keep them looking their best.

“We haven’t pushed it a lot, but we do have a variety of hair dyes, nail polishing and a variety of colors. It’s not like what you’ll see in the dog shows with rainbow colors and where they make them into different animals, but just some fun accents.”

How did she get this job?

“I started working at a pet store when I was 16. They had a grooming department, and honestly I had never owned a dog, but I was looking to pick up a few hours and they offered me a position as an assistant. I didn’t really know what else to do after high school and decided to go to grooming school.

“I went to a school in Arlington Heights, Ill., with a certification program. At the time that I went, it was around 500 hours of instruction over four or five months. You certainly come out still needing somebody to mentor you because you can’t learn it all in that short amount of time.”

What were the challenges starting up your own pet grooming business in Milwaukee?

“It’s really crazy to say this, but it wasn’t really a challenge. I had such a good client base built up in the area already. I was just really lucky. Everything came together so perfectly and I got into this great neighborhood.

“There was certainly a lot of work pulling everything together, but I had been working for 12 years. I already knew the ins and the outs of the business. The biggest challenge was finding a location.”

How does the blueberry facial work in your shop?

“We actually do that with most of the dogs. It has an exfoliator in it, so it’s really helpful if they have food caked on their mouth. Everything they eat and drink and sniff, it all ends up (on their face), so we definitely use it a lot.

“For a lot of shops, it’s an extra charge. But if it’s something I think needs to be done, I just do it. It’s our duty to provide the best service we can.”

What are the tough breeds to work with?

Every dog is totally different. Some dogs have a tougher coat. Labradoodles are certainly a popular breed now, and they require a ton of maintenance. If their owners are not brushing them on a regular basis, they are in here getting shaved down all the time. They’re very good family dogs, but grooming-wise, they’re very high maintenance.

Is this job ever dangerous?

“We do get bit, not often, but it happens. Generally, it’s not too severe. The one and only time I got bit really severely, I was bit 18 times by a golden retriever, a golden retriever, of all dogs! I actually went into shock. It was a little unnerving, but it happens.

We do get nipped at, but it’s just one of the hazards of the job.”

Why this career before anything else?

“Even after 18 years, I still feel passionate about it every day. There’s never a day that I wake up and think, ‘Oh, I don’t want to do this.’ Every day is a little different. It’s a very fast-paced, on-your-toes kind of job.”
Compensation: The average annual salary for non-farm animal caretakers in Wisconsin was $21,360 in 2013, according to the state Department of Workforce Development. Entry level workers earned $16,810 a year, while experienced animal caretakers made $23,630 a year.

To get in: Most animal care and service workers learn on the job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Still, many employers prefer to hire candidates who have experience working with animals. Some positions require formal education.
Outlook: Employment of animal caretakers in Wisconsin is projected to grow 13.5 percent from 2012 to 2022, according to the state.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Most Popular

To Top