Dogwood Grooming Spa provides quality grooming for Knoxville pets – Knoxville News Sentinel
Although she grew up with a German shepherd, a St . Bernard, two Poodles and hamsters, Tara Johnson didn’t pick up the dog clippers until she was 34, grooming her black schnauzer, Velvet, on her kitchen table.
“I just always knew I had a heart for all the fur babies, ” Johnson said.
She has a heart for their owners, too.
When clients drop off their pets at Johnson’s Dogwood Grooming Spa, her goal is to treat them like family and their animals like her own.
Many of her clients have been with her since she started the business in her East Knoxville home in 1999.
Dogwood Grooming Spa provides high quality grooming for Knoxville pets
When it comes to pet grooming, Tara Johnson and her daughters want customers to feel like family and domestic pets to leave looking better than ever.
Brianna Paciorka, Knoxville News Sentinel
“We want them to feel like family when they come over here. We want them to come, and we want to build relationships with them, inch Johnson said. “We’re not just here as their dog groomer. I truly want to know them. inches
She plus her two daughters are certified pet groomers. Together, the family is breaking through in an industry where Black pet groomers are far and few between.
While it’s not required, Manley got certified and trained under Susan Porterfield at the Concord School of Grooming in Cedar Bluff, the only grooming school in Tennessee authorized by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.
Johnson could have chosen to stay plus work for Porterfield, but the girl instincts — and her family — were telling her to start her own company.
Over the past 10 years, Johnson has seen her business grow significantly. She started by herself in a makeshift setup in her garage. Now, she’s expanded into a dedicated salon in her basement where she can see up to 10 pets a day.
Johnson provides both dog and cat grooming for Knoxville’s furry friends. She offers everything from a simple bath and trim to full-fledged styling and finishing for every type of dog and cat. She also offers de-matting, de-shedding and other care services — including a blueberry facial, if you really want to pamper your pet.
“I get a little emotional, ” Johnson said. “Because, you know, I’ve come a long way. I absolutely love my clients, and I have some of them returning to me since I’ve been in that garage. ”
Johnson’s prices range from as low as $25 and as high as $110, depending on the breed and service.
Even when the girl worked alone, Johnson always treated Dogwood like a family business.
“One thing I knew when I done this, that it will be based around family, ” Johnson said. “Even though I was working by myself at that time, it was always ‘we. ‘”
Now, Johnson’s daughters Candise and Monica are bathing, grooming plus pampering pets.
“They’ve taken a lot off of mom’s old back, ” Johnson said, laughing.
But the extra help doesn’t keep Manley from putting in the work with her client’s fur babies. Candise and Monica often do the prep work, bathing each pet with shampoos and conditioners that smell like coconut, mango and more. After a blow-dry, Johnson puts the finishing touches on the pets, taking additional care around the face.
“We put them off the table, and we feel good because we know we did everything we could to make them feel good, ” Johnson said.
Making the girl clients’ pets feel comfortable helps establish trust with the owners. For Johnson, that trust is essential when you’re a Black pet groomer.
Even though she’s originally from Indiana, Johnson considers East Knoxville her home. But it wasn’t always that way.
“I used to want to move out of this area because I felt like this area hurt me personally, ” she said.
As a Black woman, Manley said she’s struggled in ways that other pet groomers haven’t.
“I know a lot of times the world may not want to see it, inch Johnson said. “But there’s a difference when it comes to how you are seen. ”
At the beginning of her career, Johnson groomed in a predominately white neighborhood. While working there, Johnson said she could feel people looking at her.
“They would just look at me, and I could simply feel it, ” Johnson said. “Not always in a bad way. But , like, this was unusual to see a Dark person grooming. ”
Johnson said that experience is what made her recognize she was Black. But that struggle has never stopped her and the girl daughters.
“To be a Black business owner is empowering, ” Candise said. “Saying, ‘I’m a Black business owner, ‘ there’s satisfaction in that. There’s pride in that when you’ve come a long way. inches
The demographics of the industry are usually changing, Johnson and Candise said. They’re starting to celebrate and see more Black people enter the field.
“I feel like, as a Dark race, we feel like we don’t do certain things. But when (a Black girl) sees another Black woman do that, that allows them to say, ‘Well, I can do that too. Well, I want to be like her, ‘” Candise said. “It’s awesome to see (my mom) actually be one of the first ones in Knoxville to be a Black lady… groomer. ”
It took her some time, but Johnson has learned to embrace that pride in the same way.
“I knew that I usually had to stand higher, move faster and work harder, ” Johnson said. “But it’s not that I had to prove anything to anybody just because I’m Black. It’s because it comes from the place in my heart. ”