I am Leena Munikempanna, a professional pet groomer and I run my own pet grooming studio, Pawpad, in Bangalore. I am a mother, a wife, a pet parent, a teacher and a lifelong learner.
Growing up we always shared our lives with dogs and cats. In my 20’s I ended up adopting a whole bunch of dogs and cats, all lounging around in the house, it was delightful! Looking back I think I really valued the absolute unconditional love I found by sharing my life with animals. It also meant a lot of responsibility and these cats and dogs who shared their lives with me taught me so much - respect for life, drawing boundaries and what it meant to be in a relationship wherein I was accepted unconditionally. That in effect moulded the core of who I am today and what I bring to my work and teaching.
How I got into professional pet grooming:
I first came across the concept of pet grooming when I was living in England with my husband who was working there at that time. It piqued my interest for the simple reason that there was something wherein I could turn what I loved into a lifelong career. When we moved back to India and about three years after I had my son I started looking at becoming a pet groomer seriously. I needed something that was flexible, not stressful and that would allow me the time to be with my son whenever he needed me. Pet grooming appealed to me on so many levels - I was really comfortable with both dogs and cats and loved being a part of their lives and it made sense to build a profession around working with them. Being comfortable with your own dogs and cats is one thing but I had to figure out if I could be as comfortable with dogs and cats who I did not know. This is when I started working with PetStepin, a pet boarding place. I realised I loved it!
Then, I trained with Ashita Matthew on a 25 day course which was basic skills training in pet grooming. Post this training I felt like I needed hands-on experience before I could find the confidence to open my own pet grooming studio. I got a job at Cessna Lifeline, a vet hospital in Bengaluru, working as a bather. Within a few months, I was heading the pet grooming department. This also meant long hours and really back breaking work but what the job did give me was a rock solid foundation in working with animals. This job was such a steep learning curve for me and I am so glad I was able to do it.
In 2015, with financial help from both my husband, Balak, and my father-in-law I finally launched Pawpad, in Bangalore. The business has slowly steadily grown from year to year. Most importantly I have been able to be there for my son and not miss out on anything in his life. I look back to see the journey so far and I am surprised by what I have accomplished, the trajectory of my growth. When I started off I never ever imagined I would be where I am today. And this could not have been feasible without the support of both my husband and my son and the grooming community in Bangalore.
It was not easy when I started my own pet grooming studio. More so because my husband was on a transferable job and I ended up single parenting my son for so many of his initial years. It also took time to set up a business, to build trust, to build a clientele - it takes a whole load of patience. But I am so glad I ploughed through it and have managed to come out thriving.
When I started to work with Cessna Lifeline I realised that pet grooming wasn’t just an aesthetic pursuit, it also meant looking at the holistic part of it. A dog or a cat’s coat is not just about being pretty and cute but it is an animal’s first line of defence against attack. Looking at pet grooming this way makes health the first priority and I believe this has become the foundation on which I work. I’m more interested in what pet grooming can do to enhance the quality of life of a dog/cat. I also find pet grooming to be something wherein I work collaboratively with pet parents to ensure their fur babies get all the attention that is needed (both healthwise and aesthetically) to lead a healthy and safe life.
The other exciting thing I have started doing over the past few years is teaching. I have found it to be a nourishing space for myself. As a teacher, I get to work with students who want to enter this industry, students who are passionate, eager to learn and who are extremely committed. I really value this opportunity to contribute to their foundation in pet grooming. I’m extremely glad to be able to offer the pet grooming industry, my students who are trained to understand the immense responsibility that comes with working with animals.
Teaching rekindled my interest in learning. I recently managed to be certified internationally as a Master Cat Groomer as well as got my first aid certification. I continue to study and work at moulding my pet grooming practice into something that is holistic. I’m working towards acquiring skills that will help me work with animals with varied needs.
As someone who has been lucky enough to make this incredible journey, I would say the one thing that has actually enabled me has been patience. It’s really important to pause when things are not working, reassess and then push through. The only way out is through it!
Pawpad is a pet grooming studio located in HBR Layout, Bangalore offering grooming sessions for all breeds and ages of dogs and cats.
You can find us at our website www.pawpad.in
or follow us on FaceBook @leenapawpad
or Insta @Pawpad_Blore / @pawpad_grooming_studio
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