Choosing to Grow: Christina Duncan’s Story

#GroomerStories

By Melissa Viera

It is inevitable that, as a person, you will change over time—sometimes moving in the right direction and sometimes getting stuck. The world and the people around us change constantly. Change is a part of life.

When your passion remains strong, even when life changes and challenges you, can you choose to move forward and grow? Like many others, Christina Duncan, Certified Master Groomer, had to choose to overcome extreme challenges in order to become the groomer she is today.

There is a lot to be said about St. Louis, a major city famously known for the Gateway Arch, busy with tourists, night–life and even pets. Not far from St. Louis, Purina Farms Event Center, located in Gray Summit, MO, brings together dog lovers and professionals for national specialties, competitive sports and shows, and events of all kinds.

St. Louis has more free attractions than almost any other place in the nation, and amongst the excitement of St. Louis lives the small business built by Certified Master Groomer, Christina Duncan. Customers will find a prestigious pet grooming experience completed with unconditional love at Delmar Doggie Design, located on Delmar Boulevard in St. Louis. But what they may not know is the story behind the business that Duncan built.

delmar doggie designDuncan, a long–time groomer who graduated from The Missouri School of Dog Grooming in 1996 and now holds multiple achievements, certifications and memberships, opened Delmar Doggie Design in 2008. While she has many achievements today, including her business, Duncan did not reach her goals without first having to overcome serious challenges including addiction.

Duncan’s love for animals started early on, working in stables and kennels as a teenager. For Duncan, grooming is not just a job, it is what she enjoys doing.

“I have always loved grooming,” says Duncan.

As a teenager, Duncan was working as a bather when she had the opportunity to attend her first grooming show in Eureka, Missouri.

That day at the grooming show, Duncan’s eyes were opened even wider to the world of grooming.

Attending the show gave her an inside look and a glimpse into what her future could be like if she became a groomer. She began to fantasize about the competitions, the certifications and everything she could ever dream to accomplish as a groomer. Feeling inspired, Duncan had some new goals.

“Those groomers were amazing,” says Duncan.

Going home after the show, Duncan was excited to share her feelings with her mother.

“I was a problem child,” Duncan explains. “I had a huge problem.”

Times were far from easy for Duncan and her family. Duncan had been expelled from school and was struggling.

“I remember my mom got so excited when I told her, ‘Mom, I really want to be a dog groomer.’ ”

Duncan’s mother shared in her excitement.

“My mom actually paid for me to go to grooming school and I was so ecstatic,” exclaims Duncan.

Duncan graduated from The Missouri School of Dog Grooming early because she was able to learn so quickly and she went on to cover for a groomer who had injured her back at the salon she had been working at.

Transitioning from bather to groomer, Duncan now had double the responsibilities. While the other groomers had bathers, Duncan would bath and prep her own dogs, which the other groomers at the salon had her do in order to better herself and learn to manage time.

“It was the best thing they ever did for me.”

Duncan grew as a groomer but the problems she was facing in her personal life were not getting any better.

“I was an addict,” Duncan says.

She went through a very dark time where she lost everything including her job and a place to call home, and for a long time, Duncan was on the streets with her love for animals and grooming still not forgotten.

It was 2005 when positive changes began to happen.

“I got clean January 1st, 2005, making me 14 years clean on January 1st, 2019,” says Duncan.

Duncan was working hard and taking care of herself and she began to make positive changes for herself as well as contribute to her neighborhood by opening her business.

“Now, I was bringing jobs and a family–oriented business to the neighborhood,” says Duncan.

Her business, Delmar Doggie Design, has been providing pet and show grooming, hand–stripping and more with a personal touch to customers since 2008.

“I love each and every client of mine like those pets are my own. And I love being part of our industry as it grows into a bit of sophistication; higher prices across the country, more easily accessible education, groomers gaining recognition for being kind–hearted, and being a part of a whole that truly does care about the pets we groom. If we didn’t have passion, we wouldn’t hold on to our career as long as we do despite the aches and pains, both physical and mental,” concludes Duncan.

Duncan chose to grow as a groomer and she keeps moving forward after overcoming dark times. And as for those goals she set for herself many years ago at her first grooming show, she has gone on to accomplish many of them and she continues to set new goals, learn, teach and grow as a groomer. ✂