Nationally known groomer has East End salon

By Wayne Bryan Published January 23, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.
0 Comments A A Font Size
PHOTO BY: Rusty Hubbard

Angela Kumpe adds some color and a bow to the hair of Worm, a tiny poodle, at Kumpe’s shop in East End.

Very soon, Angela Kumpe will fly to California with one of her dogs to the Groom and Kennel Expo in Pasadena, and people will stop and stare, gather around to look at her poodle and ask all kinds of questions.

She knows this will happen because it has happened so many times before on other trips.

When Kumpe, who owns Angela’s Grooming in East End in Saline County, travels to the big grooming show, her canine companion might look more like a buffalo than a poodle, or the front might look like a coon hound while the rest of the dog’s body looks like a raccoon hiding on a tree limb. Her poodles have appeared to have flowers growing from their sides or to literally look like they have an angel on a shoulder.

Making her dogs appear with these wonders has won Kumpe national awards, including being named Creative Groomer of the Year for 2011 and 2012. The skill also put her on television and has given her international recognition.

“It’s creative grooming, and the competition at big grooming-industry trade shows draws big crowds,” she said. “They are usually the last event of the convention so that the vendors can keep people around.”

Kumpe is an artist, and her canvas any one of her four standard poodles, her miniature poodle, her teacup poodle and moyen or medium poodle, which is a rare dog in America but common in Europe.

The groomer/artist takes her dogs and transforms them into something different by allowing some hair to grow long, then shaping it, dying it and and adding things such as hair and feather extensions, glitter and color.

“It takes a lot of prep work,” Kumpe said. “It depends on the design, but sometimes it might take a year to a year and a half for the dog’s hair to grow to the length needed.

Once the dog and design are ready, she said, it can take 20 to 30 hours of work to complete the design.

“That takes days,” she said. “I keep the dogs on the grooming table for about two hours at a time.”

As for the color, she said techniques and products have come a long way.

“When was a little girl, my aunt raised poodles, and sometimes she dyed them using Kool-Aid,” Kumpe said. Today the color is often made specifically for dogs.”

She also uses child-safe blo-pens, a color marker that one blows into to spray the color out.

“You can just spray it on and wash it out,” Kumpe said. “Other dyes just fade out over time.” Usually when I am through showing the design, I just shave the color off and start over.”

Going back to the upcoming trip through the airport, Kumpe said many people ask her if the designs don’t embarrass the dogs.

“The dogs love to get all the attention; they aren’t embarrassed,” she said. “The other dogs get jealous of the one I pick to work with a new design. Then that dog is unhappy when it’s shaved down.”

She pointed out her oldest poodle, Missy, who has been retired from the creative grooming contests.

“We tried a new color on her the other day,” Kumpe said. “She was dancing around thinking she was going on the road.”

The dogs do attract a lot of attention.

“I once stopped at a rest area in Alabama and took the dogs on a walk,” Kumpe said.”Back on the road, two state troopers pulled us over, saying they had seen the dogs and wanted to see them up close. They then radioed ahead, and we were stopped several times by other troopers through the state.”

At the competition itself, showing off the dog is not the only activity, as described by Groomer to Groomer magazine.

“Following the completion of the groom, the competitors present their creations to the judges and the crowd, often accompanied by original songs, poems and skits,” according to the magazine’s website. “They hope to win the People’s Choice Award. The winner of this award gets additional prize money and gets to appear on the cover of Groomer to Groomer.

The idea of the cover shot was the motivation for Kumpe. She said that after buying a groomer’s shop, the former owner left behind some magazines showing creative grooming designs.

“From that point on, I was hooked,” she said. “I wanted to get on the cover. I have now been on the cover of Groomer to Groomer four times.”

As for the skits, it was Kumpe that had to overcome the embarrassment.

“I’m actually shy, but if I have to sing to show off the dog and win, I’ll sing,” she said. “My dad often helps me with the skits, and he has worn a loin cloth with little else to help me win.”

Kumpe is now one of the world’s leading creative groomers. No only does she compete in the event, but she and another creative groomer give a

demonstration on creative styling techniques such as airbrushing color onto a dog. She said she wants to give the attendees the skills and tools they need to introduce some color into their everyday salon grooming.

Kumpe has also written a book about creative grooming that she sells at dog shows and groomer conventions.

“I do a lot of the color work on small girl dogs,” Kumpe said, “along with feather extensions and false-pierced earrings.”

The East End groomer said the feather extensions that are crimped into place are becoming popular.

“I have begun making them for sale myself,” Kumpe said. “They last longer than a bow and can be used again. A pretty bow will get mashed and flattened in a day or so.”

While boy dogs seldom get the attachments or color, a Mohawk is popular, she said, showing a picture of a Schnauzer with the cut that was dyed blue.

Having had dogs and cats all her life, Kumpe said that as a little girl, she wanted to be a veterinarian when she grew up.

However, there was no school of veterinary medicine in Arkansas, so she decided to be a vet tech and went to work has a kennel hand in a vet’s office in Batesville. Soon she was a working as a tech along with the doctor.

“But the groomer had a stroke, and since I groomed my own dogs, they threw me in,” Kumpe said. “I found I loved the work.”

She opened her East End office a couple of miles down Archer Street from her current location, but moved to be next to a vet’s office.

“I especially wanted to be next to a vet,” Kumpe said. “If we get in a dog with fleas or a skin problem, I can get them to the vet, and sometimes one of the pet owners will schedule their pet’s shots with their grooming, and someone from Dr. Lynn Beach’s office will come over and give [the dogs] their shots.”

Kumpe now also has a mobile grooming shop with which she makes house calls.

“I go one day in areas like west Little Rock,” Kumpe said. “Coming to their home, the dogs are not stressed. It slows down my work, so I have to charge more, but it’s good for the animal.”

Kumpe’s international acclaim as a creative groomer could keep her traveling all over the world. She said she judged a competition in Brazil several years ago and then passed on an invitation to go to a competition and teach classes in Australia in 2013.

I try to limit myself to one trip a month when I can,” she said.

She will next travel to Richmond, Va., to teach a class, then will make her way through the airport in February on her way to California. Along with her will be one of her standard poodles transformed into living art in a design featuring Popeye, Olive Oyl, Wimpy and Bluto. It is sure to get some attention.

Staff member Wayne Bryan can be reached at (501) 244-4460 or at

Tri-Lakes Edition Writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at 501-244-4460 or

To report abuse or misuse of this area please hit the "Suggest Removal" link in the comment to alert our online managers. Read our Terms of Use policy.

Subscribe Register Login

You must login to make comments.