FairWinds aims to make grooming enjoyable for pets and owners
Appleton — After 30 years of grooming pets, Daryl Conner was ready to stay home with her own animals.
But she still loves grooming, so she opened FairWinds Grooming Studio on her enclosed front porch the week of July 7. The space is divided between a customer waiting area furnished with wicker rocking chairs and a grooming area with a large divided tub and grooming table. Customers are welcome to stay and watch their dogs and cats get beautified, or they may drop their animal companions off and pick them up once the transformation is complete.
The name FairWinds comes from a nautical blessing: “fair winds and following seas,” which Conner had engraved on her husband's wedding ring because he was in the Navy. When they moved to Appleton, their farm had plentiful breezes, so she named it Fair Winds Farm.
Conner, who has worked at Yankee Clipper pet grooming in Rockport for 11 years, said customers fairly often ask to have their pets groomed while they wait. So much so, that owner Liz Czak now offers “express” service for an extra fee, Conner said. Conner wants to build on that idea, offering a comfortable place for customers to sit, enjoy a homemade cookie and a freshly brewed cup of coffee, and watch while their pets are groomed. For the pets, there is soothing music playing in the background.
Some people prefer this kind of service because they do not want their dog or cat to be in a cage, or in some cases the pet reacts poorly to being caged, she said. At FairWinds, each animal will be groomed from start to finish, including a bath and massage, ear cleaning, nail trimming and buffing, haircut and hand drying, with no time spent in a cage. Additional services include hand scissoring, hand stripping for terrier coats and customized haircuts.
For regular grooming, charges will run around $48 for small dogs, $60 for medium and $70 for large, depending on the condition of the animal's coat and what the owner wants, she said. Because of the size of her tub, Conner will cater primarily to pets weighing 60 pounds or less.
Since one reason she decided to open FairWinds was to spend a bit less time working, Conner will not hire any staff, but will groom all the animals herself. She expects to do five to six pets a day, by appointment. She emphasized that she also grooms cats, being “probably the only certified master cat groomer in Maine.”
There are fashions in dog hairstyles as there are in human ones, she said. For example, cocker spaniels used to have close, tailored cuts because they were mainly used for hunting. Nowadays, owners want them to have long, flowing hair that would be quite impractical for a hunting dog, Conner said. And poodles once always had the pom-poms that are now synonymous with the breed, but owners now want a variety of different cuts, she said.
Conner is not a stranger to other types of pets, either. She has groomed guinea pigs and rabbits, and has clipped the wings and claws of pet birds.
She is proud of the awards she has won, including three Cardinal crystal awards for grooming achievement – and she has been nominated for a fourth. The award, sponsored by Cardinal Pet Care, a maker of pet products, is presented by the grooming industry, Conner said. Last year, she also received a Barkleigh award for journalism, and she is certified as a Master Pet Stylist, Meritus, by the International Society of Canine Cosmetologists.
To be a good groomer takes lots of patience, an eye for balance and symmetry and skill at handling animals, Conner said. She will continue working at Yankee Clipper until Aug. 2, where owner Czak has been “very gracious” about her departure, she said.
FairWinds Grooming Studio is at 1761 Sennebec Rd. Customers can reach Conner by calling 785-4333 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. She has a Facebook page and a website at fairwindsgrooming.com.
Sarah E. Reynolds is copy editor for the Courier Gazette and Camden Herald.
Sarah E. Reynolds has been a reporter and writer for more than 20 years, winning awards from the Maine Press Association and other professional organizations. She loves to read, ride her ATV and play word games.