3 Dec 2023
Andrea Cyrill Khurana, Proprietor of Petsburgh, PPGAI President—Pioneering Pet Grooming Excellence and Education, Setting New Standards in India.
1. What inspired you to start Petsburgh and delve into the pet grooming industry since 2008?
Andrea Cyrill Khurana: As with many other pet professionals, I did not start my working life as a pet care professional. After dabbling in various vocations like fashion designing, advertising, events & production, etc. I found myself searching for something more fulfilling, and that's where pet care came into the picture. When I moved to Mumbai, I brought home the love of my life, my golden retriever, Blip.
As a pet owner, I realised that there was a dearth of proper products or services available for pets, which pushed me to do it for myself by starting my pet care brand Petsburgh. And that is where my journey in the pet industry began. I've always been creatively inclined and crazy about animals, so pet grooming was the inevitable next step for me. I realised that pet grooming was not at all popular in India at the time, let alone a mobile pet grooming van. But that did not stop me from traveling to Sydney to train in pet grooming and then returning to start India's first mobile pet grooming van in Mumbai back in 2008! So if you were to ask me the short answer to the question about my inspiration, my answer would be - Blip!
2. What challenges did you face when launching the first mobile pet grooming service in Mumbai, and how did you overcome them?
Andrea Cyrill Khurana: The Petsburgh mobile grooming van was a challenge for my fabricator since no one had ever thought of anything like that before. Because of that, I had to be involved with every little design element, choice of material, layout, placement of equipment, and be aware of the physical working of a grooming salon for management of waste, access to water and electricity, etc. After all the research, effort, and sleepless nights, my grooming van turned out exactly the way I wanted and we were able to operate for almost 7 super successful years. We received a lot of love and appreciation from our clients and even attracted a fair amount of media coverage from many leading media agencies like Mid-Day, CNBC, NDTV, India Today, DNA, ET Now, etc.
We have recently re-launched our mobile grooming service and have already received a huge amount of support. I guess being the original van, having the most experience, and staying relevant with the latest trends, helps our customers trust us to do a good job!
3. Could you tell us more about Pets Icon Grooming Academy, India? How does it contribute to the pet grooming industry?
Andrea Cyrill Khurana: Since starting my journey as a pet groomer, I realised a need for a professional training course for groomers to take better care of pets while understanding trends and essential safety measures. I started Petsburgh Grooming Academy almost ten years ago and have trained many groomers since then. Having been certified as an international grooming instructor from Australia and Malaysia, I am also an internationally certified Master Groomer from the USA, which has helped me guide my students by sharing the best and most relevant parts of my knowledge from around the globe to suit the Indian market. Pets Icon Grooming Academy is an extension of my mission to offer international education to Indian groomers. While training in Malaysia, I had the opportunity to represent Pets Icon International Grooming Academy in India. Through PIGA, I can offer International Certification for my students and train them using precise and easy-to-understand methods. Each time I travel, I expand my knowledge and share it with my students regarding all the tools they need to have a prosperous career in pet grooming.
4. What sets Petsburgh Pet Spa and Boarding & Daycare Center apart from other pet care facilities in Andheri West, Mumbai?
Andrea Cyrill Khurana: I have been extremely fortunate to have been able to travel the world, meet some amazing people, and visit state-of-the-art pet care facilities. My understanding of pet care is not just limited to my own experiences, I have seen and spoken to many professionals around the world to understand how to make my service better for pets and pet parents. I have ensured that my facility is safe and hygienic and my staff is personally trained by me and equipped with all the latest tools and techniques so that they understand how to take better care of pets in our facility. For me, ensuring a happy and safe environment for my team and all the pets in my care is the foundation of what I do.
5. You've received recognition from various media groups for your contributions. Can you highlight a few pivotal moments in your career that led to this recognition?
Andrea Cyrill Khurana: During the initial phase of my startup journey, Petsburgh garnered significant media attention, being featured in numerous newspapers and magazines. Our mobile grooming van also received special coverage on notable shows like Heavy Petting on NDTV, Saturday Night Lite on ET Now, and Angel Investors on CNBC. This widespread recognition was attributed to the unique concept we introduced at that time.
Petsburgh's success wasn't solely about media buzz. Central to our excellence was a team of groomers, all internationally certified and personally trained by me to ensure the delivery of top-notch services. Drawing from my own global experiences, including competing, obtaining a master's certification, and training under exceptional mentors, I've strived to bring a wealth of knowledge to Petsburgh.
Despite my substantial tenure in the pet grooming industry, I maintain an unwavering commitment to continuous learning. The ever-evolving landscape, with new trends, tools, and products emerging daily, keeps me engaged and enthusiastic. This openness to growth is a quality I cherish about myself.
In recent times, my contributions to the grooming sector have been acknowledged within the pet industry. Founding and representing the Professional Pet Groomer's Association International (PPGAI) stands out as a pivotal moment in my career. This endeavor has positively impacted groomers, marking a significant turning point and reflecting my dedication to advancing the industry through Petsburgh and PPGAI.
6.. Could you share some of your experiences participating in international grooming contests and what winning placements meant to you?
Andrea Cyrill Khurana: In 2017, my debut on the international grooming stage took place at SuperZoo in Las Vegas. The Rescue Rodeo contest was my first challenge, requiring me to bathe and groom a severely matted standard poodle within a tight 2.5-hour timeframe. While I didn't secure any awards, the real triumph came as my groomed dog found a new home immediately after the event, turning it into a personal victory.
During another SuperZoo competition, this time for the sporting class with an American Cocker Spaniel, I faced an early morning hurdle. Waking up at 3:00 a.m. to commence bathing and prepping, I devoted hours to this task due to the dog's thick, long coat. Just an hour before the competition, as I exited the bathing area, my meticulously prepared dog decided to soil herself. Swiftly returning to the bathing area, I rushed to rewash and dry her, with mere minutes left before the competition. Despite the setback, I managed to earn my master's certification, averting a potential trip-ending disappointment.
These experiences at SuperZoo were pivotal in connecting with international groomers and absorbing valuable lessons. While subsequent competitions did bring some awards, my primary focus was always on learning and fostering connections with fellow enthusiasts who shared my passion. Over the years, this journey has been more about personal growth, shared experiences, and the joy of connecting with like-minded individuals than just winning accolades.
7. You have certifications from grooming institutions around the world. How has this diverse training influenced your approach to pet grooming and education?
Andrea Cyrill Khurana: I started my grooming journey in 2007 under the best mentor anyone could ever ask for, Christine Speerin. I travelled to Australia for training because India did not offer any courses. Christine helped me learn all the essential skills I needed, but more importantly, her contagious passion for grooming washed off on me. Until today, I still ask for her advice and help. I also have another mentor who is wildly passionate about grooming, Miss Valerie Khoo from PIGA Malaysia, whom I met for the first time in 2018. Ms. Valerie has shared her passion and knowledge with me over the past few years. She was kind enough to trust me to represent her brand in India and help me be successful in every way she could.
I have also travelled to the USA and Malaysia for my certification. I am an Internationally Certified Master Groomer from IPG USA, an internationally certified show groomer, an Asian fusion groomer, and a Certified instructor from Australia and Malaysia. My diverse knowledge has helped me curate a teaching method that is most relevant to the Indian market without compromising on quality, safety, or skill while introducing Indian groomers to world-class grooming techniques and styles. I think that is my biggest USP.
8. Tell us about the role of education in the pet grooming industry. Why is ongoing learning essential for groomers?
Andrea Cyrill Khurana: For any field to succeed, there is a definite need for ongoing education. Our jobs have become more efficient and productive by adopting new techniques, tools, and products. For example, the latest and most popular trend around the world right now is Asian Fusion grooming - the style was developed as a way to keep dogs looking cute but also keep their hairstyle functional while solving problems like dirty muzzles, knots in the armpits, etc. I have just returned from a 5-country European tour, teaching the techniques that help achieve this look.
If anyone feels like their education will be 100% relevant 10-15 years after they have acquired it, then I would say that they are wrong. Keeping up with trends makes our job more efficient and keeps us motivated and excited to stay in the field.
9. As an International Certified Master Groomer and Instructor, what advice do you have for aspiring pet groomers in India looking to make their mark internationally?
Andrea Cyrill Khurana: India is a rapidly growing market, and pet owners are more aware of the latest trends due to social media. Upgrading skills and knowledge is essential to staying relevant in a growing market. Getting my master's grooming certification required a lot of time and commitment. It was an opportunity to polish my skills and knowledge by learning about every dog breed, their history, their temperament, and their specific grooming needs. Knowing breed standards and breed-specific quirks helps us decide how to service mixed-breed dogs because we can use our extensive knowledge to curate the perfect service for that particular dog.
10. Can you elaborate on your role in launching the Professional Pet Groomers Association, India, and its goals for the Indian pet grooming industry?
Andrea Cyrill Khurana: As I said, India is a rapidly growing market. As with any other field, there will be people, who wish to enter the market but have no resources to gain the right knowledge and support. I started the Association because many of my students and groomers expressed a need to be part of a community that supports each other, to find a safe space to expand their knowledge, display their skills, and be appreciated by their peers and other pet enthusiasts.
PPGAI is a platform that offers groomers all this. We organize online and offline seminars and workshops. We help our members with guidelines to ensure a safe and enjoyable working environment. We also organise grooming competitions to help groomers showcase their talent on a bigger stage, make lifelong associations with like-minded people and learn from each other. PPGAI is also working towards creating a team of talented groomers who can represent India at the world grooming stage.
11. You are certified in Pet First Aid and as a Veterinary assistant. How does this knowledge benefit your work and your client's pets?
Andrea Cyrill Khurana: While working with animals, even with the highest safety and precautions, there are chances of accidents. My first aid and vet assistant training experience helps me manage unfortunate situations more efficiently without panicking. In any accident and emergency, the first few moments can be the difference between life and death. Even for minor accidents like small knicks and cuts, it is essential to treat the situation with basic knowledge. That is why I include a basic first-aid module with my grooming course.
12. What future trends or developments do you foresee in the pet grooming industry, and how do you plan to stay at the forefront of these changes with Petsburgh and your academy?
Andrea Cyrill Khurana: The Pet Industry is growing faster than anticipated, and everybody wants a piece of the action. The only way to stay ahead of the competition is to upgrade, continue learning, and be passionate without losing that spark that brought you here in the first place!
Andrea Cyrill Khurana, ICMG
President - PPGAI
Proprietor - Petsburgh
Principal - Pets Icon International Grooming Academy, Mumbai