Meet The Margate Dog Barber
We recently sat down down for a socially distanced chat with the wonderful Tom, The Margate Dog Barber, to talk to him about all things dog grooming! Back in November Tom did a fabulous job of giving our resident handsome chap, Wolf, a new haircut for one of our photoshoots. Wolf thought Tom was just fantastic and so we wanted to share his amazing work with you and your canine companions. Join us as we learn all about the wonderful world of The Margate Dog Barber.
Tom's pet pooches, Finn and Olive
How long have you been a dog groomer and what made you choose the career?
Well, so this is funny one, as I wouldn’t say grooming, much as I enjoy it, is my career. Although 2020 would say otherwise I’m sure! I’m an actor, primarily in the theatre, and until Covid-19 came along I was happy and busy doing that. I started grooming my own dog in 2012 and have groomed on and off ever since. Both privately and for salons in the New Forest, where I trained initially, and later in Chelsea, Notting Hill and Gloucester Road among others. I feel very lucky to have had a skill to pull out of my back pocket and I’m not looking to build up a huge book of clients as I love the business and intend on keeping the grooming going when I am able to return to work. I’ve had that balance in mind from the beginning and I’m really enjoying working for myself in a different way. Having a small business in a town as diverse and supportive as Margate has been a lovely way to feel part of the community and meet lots of new people, and their dogs of course!
Some of Tom's furry clientele
We love that you use the term 'dog barber'! What made you decide to choose that over 'groomer'?
Haha! Thank you! A rose by any other name? I am definitely grooming dogs but ‘The Margate Dog Barber’ just felt like it had a nice ring to it, I suppose. Although I pride myself on keeping pets looking cute, I don’t offer the same spa experiences that some other groomers do. Ribbons and bows just didn’t feel like me.
You describe yourself as 'welfare-focused', can you tell us a little bit more about this?
I don’t imagine there is a groomer out there who would say that they aren’t welfare focused, but I find that declaring it helps me explain my approach. I don’t like to keep dogs on the table for longer than necessary, as I think no matter how well socialised your dog is the process of grooming can be worrying for them. For example, I won’t de-matt a dogs coat, instead I’d clip off the matted hair and create a style that will look good both when it’s newly cut and as the coat gets fluffier. This is far more comfortable for the dog, in every way, and means they’re away from their owner for less time. For me, that’s a welfare-focused approach.
Wolf before and after his pampering
What is the most rewarding thing about your job?
Definitely seeing the dogs return to their owners happy and looking great. Everyone who brings a dog to be groomed loves their pet, but we’re all easier to love when we’re clean, looking smart, and smelling great!
We know you have your own pups, Olive and Finn, do they enjoy getting pampered?
It’s a mixed bag with my two! Finn (a toy poodle x dachshund) had a scare when I took him for his first haircut—he was terrified—so I started grooming him myself and it went from there. He’s never been groomed by anyone else since, and we’ve come to agreement that it’s for his own good! Olive (a Frenchie) loves rock pooling and splashing in puddles but isn’t a fan of baths. Luckily she keeps pretty fresh zooming in and out of the sea but if she rolls in something unsavoury she’s going to get scrubbed!
Tom's dogs, Finn and Olive enjoying a walk on the beach!
Do you have a favourite breed of dog to style?
I get a lovely balance of cute teddy bear cuts and some interesting breed standard styles in Margate, so I couldn’t pick. Although I don’t see any Westies down here (yet!) and it’s very satisfying to get them looking really clean and smart.
Do you have any at-home grooming tips for dog owners during lockdown?
Brush regularly! If you have a fluffy dog, part the hair and make sure that you’re getting right down to the skin. If the hair is long it can be easy to keep the ends looking good and deeper down it’s solid like felt. Pay attention to the areas where the collar or harness sit as they can often cause knotting. Other spots to watch are the ears, legs and tail.
You recently groomed Wolf, tell us honestly, was he a good customer?!
Wolf has such a brilliant elder statesman vibe about him and was very easy. He knew he had the responsibility of the new campaign shoot coming up, so I think he was keen to look his best ;)
Wolf showing off his new look at our latest photoshoot