We are so excited to have George’s Dog Boutique open in Wimbledon Village. We would lo love to learn more about the mind behind it and her inspiration for a beautiful dog spa right in the middle of our High Street
Tell us Marina, how long have you lived in Wimbledon and how many years you have been dreaming of opening a deluxe dog groomers in our home town?
I have lived in the village with my partner for 6 years now! Having grown up in the countryside in France, I have always found the village to have the community feel of a remote village I grew up in, yet so close to the buzzing city of London. George’s Dog Boutique came from a lockdown project. Like many, we used to have those long daily walks. Seeing the shops in the village shut and the hustle and bustle of the village gone, it inspired us to try and open a business locally to help do our little bit to support the growth of the village after Covid.
We all want to know if you are a dog owner or which poodle inspired you to create such an incredible pampered poodle parlour? Was it George? Tell us about George.
I’ve had dogs in the family my whole life but my partner and I got our very own Standard Poodle during lockdown. We named him George and he’s one of the best decisions we ever made. We couldn’t get George a grooming appointment locally, so this very quickly inspired us to open a salon in the village to help with the high demand.
There is a rumour you left a successful career in the fashion Industry to focus on our furry friends. Did you have a light bulb moment and are you thrilled you followed your heart?
I had worked in high-end fashion for a number of years including Burberry and Michael Kors but deep down I had always wanted to work in a much smaller workforce and where I can be much more hands on in all areas. It’s been really helpful using my experience in high end fashion as it’s clear that owners love dressing up or accessorising their pooch as much as they like dressing up themselves. Fashion for dogs has becoming a big thing, and alongside the grooming, this seems to be the most popular part of George’s.
How do you choose what brands to sell? Our dogs are so fussy, do you try and test them on your own dogs or research their ingredients first?
Buying product for the store is one of my favourite aspects of the business. It takes me straight back to what I used to do but now I’m on the other side talking to these amazing brands and finding out what their values are and what they care about and where else they are stocked.
I really strive to find products that are not on every high street and that are beautifully made with a great aesthetic appeal to them. A lot of our brands are small batch produced and are really selective about who they work with so it’s a privilege to stock them at George’s Dog Boutique. And yes… George has been completely spoilt since I first started researching product. I like him to try everything, from raincoats to fleeces, toys, treats and shampoos. If it’s approved by George, it goes in the boutique.
We are loving your spa packages. Is the bath and go most popular in winter? Which is George’s favourite treatment?
With all the rain we’ve had recently, dogs have been coming in constantly asking for a bath and fluff dry. My favourite treatment on George is doing an ultrasonic teeth clean for him when he’s having the Full Package groom. It’s made such a difference to his teeth and it’s so important to keep them healthy! George loves the mud bath. I think he loves the attention more than anything!
How do you care for nervous dogs?
It’s quite common for dogs to be nervous during a grooming treatment. We do everything we can to make grooming a pleasant experience for each dog. This can be done by incorporating more breaks into the treatment, by offering them their favourite treats and just taking time to ensure it’s comfortable for them at all times. The décor is also designed to be calming for them, from the soft colours, to the comfy beds and the low-decibel dryers. We also have one groomer per dog and we don’t use cages so each dog can really bond with their groomer and can come back to the same person each time. We also don’t use drying cages. We’ve already had clients say how happy their dog seems after the groom at George’s which is lovely to hear.
Have you had any strange requests?
Not yet… We actually let every customer choose their dog’s fragrance before the treatment so they might think we are strange for asking! It’s a really nice touch and I feel people should be able to have any special request they like for their dog – that’s what we’re here for.
Do you need qualifications to groom a dog? How do you vet (excuse the pun) the right team to pamper Wimbledon’s most loved furry residents?
I’m a fully qualified City & Guilds Level 2 and 3 groomer. This taught me so much from dogs’ health and anatomy, to common conditions, parasites and how to deal with different situations when working with animals. Of course, there were plenty of practical exams to pass too which I found really fun! I now attend grooming competitions with George because I strangely enjoy grooming under pressure!
I also have my Pet First Aid qualification which is very important when you’re working with dogs all day.
We interviewed many groomers for the salon and it was really important to me that each person was extremely talented with many years of experience but also someone who was genuinely passionate about grooming dogs and wanting to progress even further in the field and actively learn. We encourage the whole team to compete in grooming shows.
Have often do you recommend a visit to the groomers?
This really depends on the breed and how much maintenance their owners want to do at home between grooms. To give you an idea, I brush George every day, give him a bath and fluff dry every two weeks and a full groom every 4 weeks.
Curly coated breeds usually should be groomed every 4 to 6 weeks to avoid matting which can become painful on the skin. A double coated breed can go longer between deshedding treatments but it’s up to the owner. For nervous dogs, we actually recommend more regular treatments to build grooming into the dog’s normal routine which in turn makes them less stressed.
So much goes into a groom, from nail clipping, to ear plucking (where and when necessary), to teeth cleaning. Grooming makes dogs look gorgeous and cuddly but it really is important for their wellbeing too.
Do you learn when the dog’s birthdays are? Do they get an extra treat if you see them on their special day?
We do know their birthdays! If they come in for a treatment during their birthday month, they get a facial and a little something to take home!
Have you any plans to open any more dog boutiques in London or Surrey?
I would love to open more and have already been approached by a high-end retailer. At the moment my focus is on Wimbledon Village because it’s the place I know and I want to be present to get to know our customers and finesse our offering before thinking about anything else.
How many days a week are you open?
We are currently open Tuesday to Sunday.
We are sure you are very busy, how long is the average waiting list to wait for an appointment.
We have been surprised how quickly the diaries have been filling up. Our third groomer started in February to ease capacity. We offer automatic repeat bookings to customers so they are sure not to miss out.
So lovely meeting with you, we wish you all the success in your new business. We would personally like to thank you for looking after our best friends.