About West Coast Grooming Academy’s History
West Coast Grooming Academy was officially founded in January of 2015 by Christopher Jackson. Mr. Jackson has been involved in dog grooming since he started as a bather at the age of 12. By 18, he became a Salon Manager for various Petco stores. Before leaving petco Chris became highly recognized as 1 of 3 regional Academy Instructor in the entire company before moving to Petsmart. There, he worked as an instructor and manager for nearly a decade. At Petsmart, he earned the recognition as one of the top 3 Academy Instructors AND Salon Managers in the company and nation training hundreds of groomers and salon mangers.
In winter of 2013, Mr. Jackson began creating his own curriculum for teaching grooming classes. In early 2014, Mr. Jackson left PetSmart and by September, he held his first class inside of an existing doggie daycare facility in Pasadena. The foundation of what would later become WCGA was created and quickly grew and on January 1st, 2015 West Coast Grooming Academy was born. On April 1st, 2017, WCGA moved from Pasadena into a brand new facility in Arcadia, affectionately named The Pawlor, which would later re-brand to Fur Town in 2022.
In October of 2017, Mr. Jackson partnered with Jessica Johnson as Co-Owner, to help him teach classes and to help further the growth of the school. As the Academy Vice President and Chief Academic Officer, Ms. Johnson is WCGA’s Lead Instructor and resident canine & feline behavior specialist and cat grooming specialist, currently holding the titles of Certified Feline Training & Behavior Specialist (CFTBS), Certified Advanced Feline Training Professional (CAFTP) and Certified Feline Master Groomer (CFMG). She started training dogs professionally in 2005 at Petco before forming her own training business in 2006, Dog Sense, LLC, which she ran until 2019. While Jessica was running her business, she attended school at Cal Poly Pomona’s College of Agriculture where she worked with livestock and domestic animals until she graduated in 2012 with her Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science- Pre-Veterinary. In August of 2016, Jessica received her certification as a Certified Feline Master Groomer (CFMG) from the National Cat Groomers Institute (NCGI) and is one of only 280 CFMGs in the entire WORLD! She is also the only CFMG Certifier with a school that teaches cat grooming in America, and one of only two in the entire world.
Jessica is trained to the highest of standards in animal health, behavior, breeds, colors and handling to ensure the best life possible for the pets (and owners) that she works with. In addition to her animal behavior and grooming work, Jessica is very active in animal rescue, having fostered orphaned kittens, puppies and dogs for various shelters and rescues, and volunteering with organizations such as Wings of Rescue, Fix Nation, the Marine Mammal Care Center, the National Disaster Search and Rescue Dog Foundation, the Pasadena Humane Society, Downey Animal Care & Control, West Side German Shepherd Rescue, Upland Animal Shelter, Sante D’or Foundation, and Found Animals Foundation.
Jessica has appeared on numerous tv shows such as “My Cat From Hell” with Jackson Galaxy and Kate Benjamin of Hauspanther, “Shelter Me” on PBS, and “The All American Dog Rescue Celebration” Thanksgiving Day Special on Fox 11. WCGA is very lucky and proud to have Jessica teaching the next generation of dog and cat groomers!
In mid-2018, mobile grooming was added to the Pawlor’s services in Arcadia, and quickly grew to a fleet of 4 vans, with plans to continue growing.
In December of 2019, WCGA opened its second campus inside Wallis Annenberg Petspace in Playa Vista, CA. This state-of -the-art facility features two grooming salons (one for classes and the other for Certified Groomers), adoptable pets, conference rooms, veterinary exam rooms and operating stations, recovery rooms, isolation rooms, an X-ray machine, and more. WCGA is thankful for the opportunity to be a part of such a monumental educational facility that is helping the next generation of kids and adults alike grow in their passion for helping animals.
In August of 2020, WCGA welcomed a new Partner and Academic Operating Officer named Huber Pineda. Mr. Pineda was born in Guatemala and started showing dogs with his grandfather when he was 8 years old. It was during this time when he began learning how to groom a wide variety of show dogs to breed standard, eventually earning several awards in Junior Showmanship. He came to the United States in 1989 and began working for Petco in 1990. He grew his salon to achieve recognition as the second highest volume store on the West Coast, where it steadily held that title for 9 years.
After his time at Petco, Huber began grooming at a private salon, where he learned more about small business management and how to grow a successful business. In 2006 he left that salon and went to work for another private salon in Hollywood, CA, where he worked as a manager for several years. Huber then opened four successful grooming salons in Los Angeles, while working part-time at another private salon in Toluca Lake, CA.
In 2008 Huber applied to be on the second season of Animal Planet’s grooming competition show “Groomer Has It.” Out of 4,600 applicants, only 12 were chosen to appear on the show, including Huber. He then went on to win the entire competition, winning the distinguished title of Animal Planet’s “Groomer of the Year, 2009.” Aside from his time on “Groomer Has It,” Huber has also appeared on “The Bachelor” on ABC and “Pretty Wild” on E Network. Most recently in 2020, Huber appeared on HBO’s grooming competition show “Haute Dog,” and won the coveted first place “Best in Show” title.
After his time on “Groomer Has It,” Huber decided to return to groom at another private salon where he remained for several years until August of 2020, when he began working as an Academy Instructor at West Coast Grooming Academy.
Huber brings 42 years of pet grooming, instructing and salon management knowledge and experience to West Coast Grooming Academy. He is an asset to our company, our students, and to the grooming industry as a whole, and we are thrilled to have him on board. We hope that you enjoy learning from him and that you take advantage of all of the knowledge that he has to offer you.
In Summer of 2021, WCGA partnered with the Michelson Foundation Animals Foundation in their new philanthropic venture, the Michelson Institute for Pet Professionals. MIPP’s goal is to create equal access to pet care careers for individuals in underserved communities, who have a passion for working with animals. Students accepted into the MIPP program receive access to WCGA’s Dog Groomer Certification course at no cost to them, as well as grooming tools and job placement services upon graduation. Through our partnership with. MIPP, WCGA has been able to change the lives of many individuals from underserved communities.
In February of 2022, WCGA will be opened its third campus location in La Verne, CA, which coincidentally was once managed by Mr. Jackson in his early twenties!
WCGA shows no signs of slowing down either! After opening our first 3 salons under the name Fur Town, WCGA debuted a Certified Dog Grooming Instructor Course, which allows partner salons to teach WCGA courses with WCGA Certified Dog Grooming Instructors at the helm. WCGA’s fourth campus in Studio City, CA opens in May 2022, and a fifth campus in Santa Monica opens in July 2022. WCGA is expected to grow exponentially and add more schools and salons throughout the country. If you are interested in making history with us, visit our Training Salon Partner page!