I don’t have pets. The care and feeding of me takes up of most of my time. So when I stumbled upon Animal Planet’s first season of Groomer Has It, a competition reality show in which groomers vie for grand prizes including a mobile groomer truck and the title of Groomer of the Year, I was stunned by my level of interest.
I guess it had to do with one of the contestants, Artist Knox, an earnest guy who said that dog grooming saved his life. Artist, a native of South Central LA, plied his craft grooming shelter dogs while the other competitors made their living grooming the finest furry creatures money can to buy. After getting off to a rough start, Artist went on to win Groomer Has It. His humility and willingness to learn from his mistakes made him a fan favorite.
Today, he has his own animal grooming business and show on Animal Planet, Beverly Hills Groomer (Premiere, Saturday, May 16, 10 p.m. Eastern/Pacific). Artist talked to The Ride about the show, his new business, working in challenging economic times and catering to the tough crowd that is Beverly Hills.
The Ride: First of all congratulations on your new show! I was such a fan of yours during the first season of Groomer Has It and was too happy that you won. Was the new show, Beverly Hills Groomer, something that was in the works for a while?
Artist: Thank you for the love and support. Beverly Hills Groomer basically began production right after the final airing of GHI1. The day I got my money and truck I headed out to Beverly Hills. [smiles]
The Ride: Why Beverly Hills, it seems like such a tough crowd?
Artist: Beverly Hills is the ultimate symbol of wealth and success. Yeah, it was a tough crowd but I’ve experienced more severe circumstances in my life, and I didn’t plan on allowing people’s attitudes to effect my Altitude. In order for me to be respected on an international level I had to start at the top of the Doggy Pile…So, Beverly Hills, here comes Artist Knox!
The Ride: I read that you are grooming everything from “housecats” to “baby yaki”. When I first read it, I thought, Artist is now doing weaves? Sounds good to me because some weaves need to be groomed. Then I realized it was yaki, like in the animal (a.k.a. yak), not yaki like in the hair extensions. What was it like to groom yaki? And who in the world would have yak/yaki as pets?
Artist: I don’t discriminate. As long as the money folds then Artist’s Premium Grooming will roll. If somebody wants their weave touched up I don’t have a problem with picking them up in my truck [laughs]. Grooming the yak was intense. I thought I would end up like those people who run with the bulls in Spain… I thought the yak would try and take my temperature…I groomed the yak for a company that rents out animals for television and film.
The Ride: And speaking of housecats and yaki, what made you decide to expand your services beyond dog grooming?
Artist: In order for me to be a competitor, I have to ensure that I isolate the game. I have to offer services on multiple levels so that my business is seen in a more diverse market. I need to cater to as many pet-centered services and products as possible. So if I have to groom a cat or a lion, I’m ready and willing. I didn’t come this far to fall short by a few inches. I’m going all the way, and, in the process, facilitate as many departments as possible.
The Ride: I understand some members of your family work with you in your business. I can’t even imagine (*crosses self*). How do you do it? Why did you do it?
Artist: Yes. I have recruited my brother, Desmond, and sister, Arveneto, to help me put my plans in motion. Even though working with family can be extremely challenging, it was important to me that I bring them along with me. If I’m going to make it in life then so are they. We come from the same place, we struggled and suffered together. It’s only natural, to me, that we reap the benefits of success together. I’ll never leave my family behind. KnoxTribe 4 Life!
The Ride: Oh, I forgot to ask: What is the name of your grooming business? How did you come up with the name?
Artist: I have two divisions of my business. The first is my grooming shop called “Artist’s Pet Salon,“ which has its physical location, at 1616 Cahuenga Blvd in the heart of Hollywood, Cali. The second division of my business is the mobile truck called “Artist’s Premium Grooming.“ Even though it’s basically the same business, they have separate applications. The shop and mobile are separate experiences with the same level of quality and superior customer service.
The Ride: Thinking back, you were an underdog during the Groomer Has It competition, which obviously worked out well for you. And now you seem to be taking on the role of the underdog again as you begin your business in tough economic times. It is a role that you relish? If so, why and how does it inspire you? And if not, why?
Artist: I don’t necessarily relish the role of being the underdog. It’s just what I am at the time being. I come from the ghetto, born and raised in poverty, with very little access to the tools that most people take for granted. I’m the underdog because the situations I have been encountering are totally new to me and I have to learn how to swim without a lifeguard. I’m starting a business barely knowing where to start. On top of that, I’m starting a business in a recession. This situation, to most, would seem impossible. I don’t accept that mentality. I can do anything I put my mind to. I’m an autodidact, and I learn through observation. I refuse to be denied, even if it costs me my life. I’ll push until I break through the surface. I’m only an underdog because I’m starting from the bottom. The bottom is the most important place to start. That’s where the foundation is, and the foundation will determine how much pressure can be applied.
The Ride: What do you hope people get from watching your new show?
Artist: When people watch my show, I want them to see that any goal or dream they have for their lives is absolutely attainable. I want them to realize that there is no limit to this life, no matter how big the dream may be, if broken down into steps and if you dedicate yourself to each phase of learning. Success is 100% within reach. Success is the side-effect of applied knowledge.
The Ride: What is your favorite breed of cat? And what is your favorite breed of dog?
Artist: My favorite breed of cat are the ones who don’t scratch me. My favorite breed of dog are the ones who love me. [smiles]
The Ride: In an ideal world, animals would be…?
Artist: In an ideal world, animals would be elected to Congress. This way they could have a say in whether or not they agree with their natural habitats being eradicated because of eco- irresponsibility.
The Ride: Last question: I’ve wondered this from the first time I saw you and maybe you said this before but who named you Artist and why?
Artist: My father’s dad named me after him. At first, my older brothers were set to receive the name but my dad kept telling my granddad, ” You can name the next one.” After the first two attempts, my granddad finally got what he wanted: me. [smiles]
The Ride: That’s it. Thank you so very much and best of luck with your new show.
Artist: You’re welcome.