(Natasha Kirsch stands in The Grooming Project’s building at 58th and Troost in 2015, prior to its renovation.)

Unexpected package helps doors open

By Sarah Baum

Natasha Kirsch, founder and CEO, smiles as she explains how important the first delivery of professional clippers was to the Grooming Project.  “I really don’t know if we’d be here without help from Andis Company. I’m not sure they know the full extent of the impact they made with their first donation of professional dog grooming supplies to the Grooming Project,” she remembers.

In December of 2015, Natasha was struggling to move her business plan from paper to reality. Working in a temporary office space at St. Andrews Church, she submitted dozens of funding requests and grant applications to philanthropists and foundations. Persuading a funder to donate the very first dollars in support of a new entity can be difficult, though, and Natasha was struggling to get traction.

Her outreach included a letter to Andis Company, a manufacturer of professional pet grooming supplies. She had asked if Andis would consider donating professional grooming equipment for her future students to use as they learned their new skills. Eight months went by until a staff member at St. Andrews Church called to share the big news—five large boxes from Andis Company had arrived. Natasha was soon unpacking almost all of the professional dog grooming equipment she needed for the first class of groomers.

She called The Grooming Project’s board with the exciting news. We’re gonna make it,” she had said. “The first measure of support for our program has come in.

Natasha felt that the Andis Company donation was reason for her to go forward with her plans. They had no reason to answer my request. They didn’t know me and The Grooming Project didn’t really exist yet. But they took a chance on us. That generous goodwill gave us hope and got us started.”

Lacey Adair, Director of Grooming, used Andis equipment as a professional dog groomer in her own salon before she become an instructor. She’s long considered their products to be top of the line. She appreciates being able to provide instruction using quality equipment, such as corded and cordless clippers, and is grateful for the boxes of Andis grooming supplies that continue to arrive. They see my wish list and send back what they can, it’s wonderful,” she says.  Lacey encourages her students to take good care of their equipment after graduation, explaining that if they do, it will last for years.

David, a student, grooms a dog during his last week of the program.

Andis Company, family owned and headquartered in Sturtevant, Wisconsin was founded in 1922 and is a leading manufacturer of handheld tools to trim, cut, curl, straighten and dry hair or fur. The company’s products are purchased in more than 90 countries by barbers and salon professionals, consumers, hotels, motels, resorts, small animal groomers, and large animal groomers and shearers.

The company has a four-generation legacy of generosity connected to their core belief that, “strong families, thriving kids, and a vibrant community within which to live yield prosperity.” The corporate culture is based on a single principle: Building strong communities on the foundation of the family. The Andis Foundation was created five years ago to support these values and philosophies with their community partners.

Laura Andis Bishop, Co-CEO of Andis Company states, “One of the great things about our business is seeing what people can create using our clippers and trimmers – transforming hair or fur into something incredible. The Grooming Project takes the mission of supporting families to the next level in that helps people transform their lives and break the cycle of poverty. The creative connection between people and pets that happens by learning the craft of grooming is so inspiring – the fact that pet grooming can be the catalyst for positive change is amazing! We are proud to continue to drive that mission forward with our support of The Grooming Project.”

Natasha Kirsch adds, “Grooming supplies are very symbolic to our students—they represent the key to their future. Grooming salons don’t provide tools for their groomers, because they’re very expensive. Each groomer has to bring their own, so we hang a bag of grooming tools over their heads as a graduation incentive. Once they complete the program and we give them their tools, they know they have the ability to make a living and provide for their family. It’s a truly empowering feeling for each graduate. We’re so thankful to Andis for what they’ve done and continue to do for our students.”

To support the work of The Grooming Project, give here today!