Women’s Lib: Jess Rona Talks Dog Grooming

Jess Rona is so good at grooming, she can make a cat wish it was a dog.

Every so often, something emerges that is so perfectly engaged with the zeitgeist, it’s impossible to believe it wasn’t always available for us to enjoy/discuss/marvel at. Los Angeles dog groomer Jess Rona has recently found out what it feels like to be at the center of all that marveling thanks to her wildly popular Instagram account @jessronagrooming. In it, she posts videos and stills of the dogs she grooms, oftentimes at the end of the beautifying sessions, being blown by a fan in slow motion with perfectly curated music playing. Sometimes they’re shown zenning out as water pours over their little furry heads in the bath. It may sound simple but, until you’ve seen it, you truly have no idea how magical they are.

Rona has a special knack for catching the dogs in their truest moment, as they stare down the camera’s lens, fur billowing in the breeze. Her videos are pieces of art, and the world has taken notice, as Rona learned recently when the internet caught wind of her Instagram account. She’s since been featured everywhere from The Today Show to Marie Claire to Buzzfeed as people around the world take notice of her loving and ultimately soothing videos.

Outside of making the pups of Los Angeles look picture perfect — complete with animal-friendly, rainbow dye for their fur and gorgeous manicures for their tiny paws — Rona keeps busy wearing many hats. She cut her performer teeth in the LA comedy scene at theaters like the Upright Citizens Brigade and iO West, where she’s done sketch, improv and musical comedy. She even recently released her own comedy video, “Oh Shit We Forgot About Jess Rona,”  which successfully taps into that feeling we all feel when we see friends hanging out together via pictures on social media. And her latest video, "Love Song," is a sweet and hysterical look at love (starring Jason Ritter!).

Recently, The Kind caught up with Rona to talk about her booming internet presence and how she manages to get those pups so camera ready.  

The Kind: How did the Instagram account come about?

Jess Rona: I was let go from the shop I was working at, and I wanted to start my own little home shop. I didn't have a ton of clients. I would post grooming photos on my regular Instagram, then I decided to move them to their own account to be more professional.

The Kind: What has the response felt like?

Jess Rona: The response has been incredible. It's such a blessing to be able to make people happy with these funny little videos I make. I have people commenting that they were having a bad day, and I made it better. That's the best thing in the world. I've heard from people all over. Italy, New Zealand, Australia.

The Kind: How long have you been grooming dogs? And how did you get into it?

Jess Rona: I've been grooming for 16 years. I started off as a bather to make some money to buy a car when I was a teenager. Then I slowly started learning how to groom over the years. 

The Kind: How do you pick the music to go with each video?

Jess Rona: I look for an emotion in the video and try to find something that'll convey it. Or, if I've been listening to a song a lot, it'll inspire me and I'll look for a video to use it on. 

The Kind: How do you get the pups to not fuss with the dryer on them? Do they ever misbehave?

Jess Rona: I have to blow off the loose hair once a pup is done anyway; so sometimes I just grab my phone and record it on slo-mo. it only takes a minute to get a lot of footage. The dryer is on the lowest speed; so it's pretty mellow. Some dogs hate it; so I don't do it, but most dogs are okay with a gentle breeze on them. Dogs don't really misbehave. Sometimes they do put up a fight if they really hate what I'm doing to them. But I try to respect them and work with them.  

The Kind: What is something people don’t know about dog grooming?

Jess Rona: Dogs are energy readers. It's all about your energy. Also, I don't like when owners are in the room when I'm grooming. They will take all their dog's focus, and it'll be hard to get them done. And some dogs take three to four hours to groom. 

The Kind: What are some Instagram accounts that you love?

Jess Rona: I follow a lot of groomers from Japan, Korea, and Hong Kong. They use this new popular style called "Asian Fusion" grooming. I incorporate their style into my style a lot. It's more whimsical and cartoon looking. It's fun!