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These pups have got a lot of personality — and it’s coming through loud and clear, thanks to one doggone creative dog groomer.
Meet Jess Rona, who has made it her mission to give each dog that walks in her at-home shop in LA some flair. Inspired by the whimsy of Chinese, Korean and Japanese dog groomers, Rona adds some Asian fusion flavor to each dog she styles.
After becoming friends via social media with groomers whose techniques she wanted to emulate, as well as visiting websites and taking seminars, Rona evolved a distinct style of her own.
“I usually use vague terms with consultations like 'cute' or 'peppy',” Rona told TODAY.com. “Most people don’t know exactly what they want, but I know what would look best on every dog.”
Sometimes she gives dogs total makeovers. Rona estimated that 99 percent of her customers are happy with the results. “The most rewarding part is that the dogs get more cuddles because the owners think they are cute and are so happy,” she said.
Actress Nicole Shabtai's first visit to Rona with her dog, Sheldon, was a little surprising.
“Jess is clearly a creative genius and a genuine dog whisperer so I wasn't trying to interfere with her process," Shabtai told TODAY.com via email."But Sheldon came out looking like a floofy Sir Lancelot, which on another dog, I would be like, ‘YES!’ But Sheldon's best look is more ‘homeless chic.’”
Even so, Shabtai has taken Sheldon back to Rona many, many times. “Sheldon used to shake uncontrollably when I dropped him off with other groomers. And now, when I drop him with Jess, he's like, ‘PEACE, MOM!’ I don't know what happens there exactly, but it seems like a great time,” Shabtai wrote.
Rona experiments with everything from changing dogs' shapes with her cutting techniques to dyeing (however, she will never dye a dog without asking).
For comedian Jackie Johnson’s dog Chooch, Rona experiments with different colors, depending on the season. She’s a big fan of ombre on Chooch’s tail.
With singer Jeffree Star's dog, she once created a sunset effect using pigmented conditioners.
Becoming a dog groomer was, in a way, a natural choice for Rona. She recalls visiting PetSmart at age 19 with her mom and seeing a dog bather job available. She applied and got it.
After she bathed dogs for a year, her manager suggested she start learning about grooming. From there it was a “natural evolution,” she explained.
Rona worked in several dog salons before moving from Los Angeles to New York City to pursue acting. Eventually she made her way back to Los Angeles and, upon her return, she decided to take her dog grooming career to the next level.
She dabbled in competitions as well as working in a salon, from which she got fired. She attributes that to the fact that she’s very slow and particular when it comes to styling.
Frustrated with working for others, Rona converted her garage into a plush dog salon where she now uses top-of-the-line Italian shampoos and treats each dog to a blueberry facial and deep conditioner. Talk about luxury!
Rona has found herself capturing her canine customers' personalities in short videos, which she posts to her Instagram account.
She says it all started one day when she was blow-drying a dog whose ears kept flying up. She couldn't resist capturing it on video. Now she pairs her videos with music to craft fun glimpses into life at the salon.
“I started having fun with it because it’s a way of expression. I look at the emotions the dog seems to having and look for the best song to capture the moment,” Rona explained.
Next up for Rona is creating a Web series that documents the lives of the perky pets she grooms as well as their owners'. We can't wait!