In just four years Stephanie Zikmann has gone from being a local dog groomer to an authority worldwide as The Holistic Dog Groomer.
She’s written a book that led to a series of children’s books, has a regular column in Edition Dog magazine, runs the Holistic Grooming Academy and has spoken at events all over the world.
Stephanie’s passion is the emotional and physical needs of her canine clients, bringing pet professionals from all backgrounds together to make their lives better.
She’s revolutionised grooming and through her academy she’s changed the lives of hundreds of groomers and how thousands of dogs are cared for.
By being bold and putting opinions out there that not everyone agrees with has meant Stephanie has seen the dark side of what happens when you’re in the public eye.
After sharing her thoughts on Pooch Perfect, she experienced death threats which caused huge distress.
But Stephanie took time out, built herself up and bounced back much stronger.
Now she incorporates the emotional toolkit she built for herself into her training to support her students.
Stephanie has so much to share in this episode and you can listen in on the player link below or read the key topics covered as blog post.
Can you tell us about how you came to the pet industry?
“I’m Stephanie, I’m known as the Holistic Dog Groomer and operate at my clinic in Scotland and also run the internationally accredited distance learning college – the Holistic Grooming Academy.
“I used to be a DJ but my change of career was spurred on by the unsociable hours and wanting to have a family.
“At this time I had four dogs and I would groom them often, it was my way to calm down after a busy week at work.
“When I had a family it was a no brainer – I decided to kill two birds with one stone, work with dogs which I absolutely loved and also look after my mental health.”
Can you explain what Holistic Dog Grooming is?
“Yes, when I first started in 2018 holistic grooming was heavily focused on products, more towards ‘spa’ style pampering.
“As I’ve evolved with my own education it’s about the environment, and adopting a holistic approach to treating the animal, considering its history, lifestyle, medication, all aspects of care and using that information to enhance the grooming environment.
“It can sound complex but essentially we adapt the environment to suit the needs of the individual dog.
“When I first came into the grooming industry it was a very divided sector – behaviour was one thing, training was another.
“It’s about bringing training, behaviour and grooming together to create a safe and kind environment to help you groom them in the best way possible.”
How did you go about getting your alternative approach out there?
“I looked for specific clients who were interested in my approach.
“This captured the interest of local reporters who published an article about me being a groomer providing spa treatments for dogs which was picked up by the BBC.
“They asked me to come on and talk about the benefits of enhancing the bond between handler and dog. This was the catalyst to really raising my profile.
“Then I started a column in Edition Dog magazine, the first Holistic Magazine for dogs which was an amazing opportunity.
“I love writing and continue to write articles, both for my own website and social media and I recently wrote about Imposter Syndrome in Entrepreneur Europe.”
Wow and you’ve written a book too, the Magic of Holistic Grooming?
“Yes, with the Holistic Grooming academy, I’ve build a community sharing articles and behind the scenes videos on Facebook.
“In my book, The Magic of Holistic Grooming I share my opinions and identify flaws in the industry.
“This was a best-seller in seven categories on Amazon, and it’s meant people see me as more credible and take my work seriously.
“The book and the media coverage have helped build my authority so I’m able to work with students all over the world.”
Find Steph’s book on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Magic-Holistic-Grooming-No-Nonsense-Pawsitively/dp/152728848X
You’ve experienced the dark side too, can you tell us about this?
“I published an article on my website about holistic grooming, while the TV show Pooch Perfect was on.
“My opinion was that it didn’t do groomers justice and it was picked up by a grooming organisation who wanted to share it on their platform.
“After they published it they got numerous death threats from numerous groomers who weren’t happy about the content, and as the writer of the article, I had death threats too.”
How did you cope?
“It’s really difficult because feelings of imposter syndrome creep up and I was aware people would be unhappy about what I was putting out there because I was a newcomer.
“But I wasn’t prepared for the backlash. I cried, I came offline, I spoke to my husband and even he was stunned I did a Digital Detox but I had to.
“What really helped at the time was speaking with you and the people in your community and my friends and having reassurance from people that I trust.
“When I came back I removed anyone who had given me a hard time and focused on making content for the people who really wanted to hear my message.”
And you kept going?
“Yes, I have to thank my husband because he’s very positive and optimistic. He made me listen to a lot of motivational speakers.
“There was one from Les Brown, and he said, “Someone’s opinion of you doesn’t have to become your reality.”
“In time, the thoughts and the beliefs of these people didn’t matter to me anymore because I knew in my heart I was doing right.
“I realised that although I was a newcomer it didn’t make me any less valid when it comes to teaching and coaching and I have a great support network which helped me keep going.”
What you learn around building resilience?
“Being self-employed is really tough. But if you know in your heart what you’re doing then there’s no other option than to keep going.
“One important thing is to stay true to your core values, to be able to say ‘no’ to people if they don’t fit with your beliefs, I’ve done this numerous times.
“Anyone who is self employed, keep going, be open to listen and learn and keep the faith!
“Identify your strengths and see your weaknesses as an opportunity to grow! If we’re not compassionate to ourselves, we can’t be towards others.
“I now cover self care and building resilience as part of my programme in the academy as it’s so important.”
What’s next for you?
“I’ve been working on a training manual for groomers. So I’m almost finished and ready to send it off!
“Inside the Holistic Grooming Academy we have more courses and a holistic cat grooming course, and a horse grooming course as well!
“Holistic grooming is going further than the dog world and it’s great to see people who are passionate about creating a kinder grooming environment for all animals.”
Find out more about Stephanie at https://www.stephaniezikmann.com/
Learn about Holistic Grooming at https://courses.holisticgroomingacademy.com/
Read Stephanie’s article in Entrepreneur: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/380502
Check out her profile on the Edition Dog website: https://editiondog.com/pages/stephanie-zikmann
If you enjoyed this post, you might like In the Spotlight with Katie Gwilt, the Kat Lady, or In the Spotlight with Sarah Jones from My Anxious Dog, or How to cope with criticism from people in your industry.