Jess Rona is a celebrity dog groomer in every understanding of the word. She grooms the dogs OF celebrities, expertly styling the pups of Katy Perry, Nina Dobrev, Zooey Deschanel, and Ruby Rose. She grooms dogs who ARE celebrities, including icons like Marnie the Dog and Balki Bones the three-legged Havanese. And now she is herself THE celebrity. Thanks to her recent turn as TV judge on HBO Max’s new dog grooming competition Haute Dog (seriously check it out, it’s so bonkers and delightful), where pet stylists “turn canines into K-10s.”
But despite Katy Perry once saying she was to “dogs as Vidal Sassoon is to the bob cut,” Jess Rona didn’t set out for this glitzy life of dog stardom. She’s also an actress and comedian who initially started grooming dogs in LA 20 years ago because it was a chill job to work between auditions. But her gift of being able to give animals haircuts was undeniable. And what began as a casual job soon morphed into a respectable, but pretty low-key single-woman operation run out of her garage. That was until her undeniable skills hit Instagram. You know those slow-mo, blow-out dog grooming videos, with the incredible soundtracks that are everywhere? You can thank Jess Rona for that.
Now it feels like Jess goes viral every other week. But she’s more than a social media star. Her business is booming, with everyone (and their dog) lining up to sample her impressive range of deluxe services–including hot oil treatments and blueberry face masks. Her dedicated following and unique style of “Japanese-influenced pet trims, for people who aren’t going to sit and brush their dog every day” have also resulted in a book of her dog transformations, and even lead to her directing a music video for Tegan and Sara inspired by her dog muses
We checked in with Jess Rona to get the lowdown on dog fashion and pick up some style tips of our own.
You’ve just come off filming Haute Dog which is all about the best of dog styling. Do dog fashion trends exist? And if so, what’s hot (sorry, haute) now?
Asian Fusion is really fun and popular right now. A whimsical, cartoonish, and adorable style any dog can have.
What’s your favourite breed to work on?
A poodle! Their coats are so versatile you can do anything. Asian fusion with bell bottoms? You got it. Traditional trim? It’s all fun.
Talking about bell bottoms. You always pull such great looks, has making over dogs influenced your own personal style?
I love a good bell bottom, but my style is more influenced by the wood paneling and vintage design in my studio.
Followers of your Instagram would be familiar with your studio’s strong look. You’re also known for your iconic slow-mo shots. How did they come about?
I was grooming a Pekingese named Noodle and her ears flew up in the air while I was blow drying her. I thought it was the funniest thing, so I grabbed my phone and took a video. This was the first week slo-mo came out on iPhone, and it brought me so much joy I became addicted to it.
For people attempting that kind of glory at home, if you could give one piece of advice about looking after their dog’s hair, what would it be?
I say this with love, just focus on brushing and leave the haircut to the professionals. Use a GOOD brush. I love the Chris Christensen slicker brush or the Artero large slicker brush.
If you could trade hair with any breed, who would it be?
I think I am very much a shih tzu, top knot kind of girl.
It was fun to see you on Haute Dog. You have an acting background, are you keen to step out of the salon and do more of that stuff?
I had a blast creating and judging on Haute Dog. It’s so cool to see wind blown dogs on television after I’ve been doing work in my garage for so many years. I am so excited to show the world the artistry of dog grooming. Getting to improvise with two hilarious humans, Matt Rodgers and Robin Thede, was so fun.
You obviously work with a lot of dogs, on and off screen, any tips for getting dogs to like you?
Energy is everything. If you pay attention to their queues, and react with calm confidence, the dog will be more trusting.
I am very interested in creating a line of tools, and products. It is definitely something I will start pursuing soon!
For more stylish dogs, check out: