They are Mirrors of ourselves
Updated: 2013-03-07 10:40
By Eric Jou (China Daily)
Three-year-old Nai Xi enjoys a trip to the salon once a month. Every time, the gray haired schnauzer gets the full treatment: a haircut, mani-pedi and perm.
Zhang Hui, Nai Xi's owner, says that since she was about 3 months old she has been going to a pet grooming salon, originally to keep her fur tangle-free and stay cool in the summer, but later for elaborate new stylings.
"Not to brag, but Nai Xi has got a great coat, so eventually we started to style her fur in different ways," Zhang comments.
He is one of a growing number of pet owners who want to express their own fashion sensibilities through their pets. A growing army of pet groomers help them do this.
Pet store worker and groomer Tang Ziping has been doing the job for more than 11 years in Beijing. Originally a photographer, she started pet grooming because of her passion for animals.
She enrolled at the iPet animal grooming school, which offers courses from Japanese teachers. Tang has received a certificate for grooming from China Kennel Union, China's largest animal grooming association.
"More people are seeing animals as a fashionable part of their lives," Tang says. "They see pet owners walking pedigree dogs on the street and want to join the community."
She says her pet store charges about 100 yuan ($16) per session, while some high-end salons with famous groomers can charge from 500 yuan to thousands of yuan per session.
"Owners are looking to show how fashionable they are, and they see their pets as extensions of themselves," she says.
"Before owners used to say: 'Cut the hair short and make them pretty'. But now they require groomers to have techniques and skills because they see design styles on the street and they want their pet to stand out."
Wang Haixin, a groomer in Beijing's Tongzhou district, was fond of animals to begin with and has been doing the job for five years.
When she first started, it was mainly homemakers with small dogs who visited her. But as pet ownership has taken off, so have her bookings.
Wang connects with social media to show photos of the animals she grooms and interesting styles from around the country. She says it's a good way to reach new clients.
Both Wang and Tang say the most important element of their work is showing off the owner's sense of style, which often has a cute flavor.
"We started styling Nai Xi's fur in a similar way to a bichon frise. It draws a lot of attention on the street," Zhang says. "We get a lot of compliments."