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History of Vivian & John Nash

The Storyof the Nash Academy, and of Vivian and John Nash themselves, is completely intertwined, as the Academy has been a lifelong labor of love for the Nashes.

Though their backgrounds may have been disparate, their shared love of the dog and desire to elevate dog grooming and care to a recognized art form led them to innovations in the pet care industry which have revolutionized that industry and brought it into the 21st century in terms of professionalism and aesthetics.

About Vivian
With her keen visual sensibility and artistic nature, Vivian Nash, a professional groomer and stylist since 1972, has long sought to set standards of excellence in the grooming industry which elevate that industry to an art form.

Vivian became a salon owner in Lexington, Kentucky in 1973, and began to develop her own distinctive techniques and theories of bathing, grooming and styling and put them into practice. The awards and honors given to Vivian are legion, and include the best and brightest offered by the industry to recognize excellence.

In 1980, Vivian became one of the very first Certified Master Groomers in the world, a testament to her artistry and expertise, and the very next year she was appointed to be one of the first Certifiers by the International Professional Groomers Association. These two awards exemplify what is most remarkable about Vivian: her incredible skill as a groomer, and her ability to recognize exceptional skill in others. Clearly, she was destined to become one of the premier educators in the pet care professions. The kudos for her grooming skills kept coming, as Vivian has won the bronze, silver and gold medals at Intergroom, and was named International Groomer of the year in 1986.

About John
John Nash came to the pet care professions via a much more circuitous route. John's life story demonstrates that he is a Renaissance man of many interests and talents. In the '70s, he attended the New York School of Interior Design, but his fascination with high finance drew him to become a stock and commodities trader in the '70s, though that too did not satisfy his restless intellect, and he soon realized that he wanted to work with animals, for which he had always had a profound love. He was drawn to dog grooming, and thought that with his business background, he could revolutionize the dog grooming salon business. He was right.

His first salon, "Superdog," opened in 1974, rocketed to success because of John's grooming artistry and knack for eye-catching advertising. John was inspired to begin the Nash Academy in 1979, when John realized that, if he was having difficulty finding well-trained, talented groomers for his salon, every other salon must have the same difficulty. He realized that if he wanted to have his salon staffed with expert groomers trained in the methods of compassion and kindness for the dog which he himself completely believed in, he would have to train them himself.

Working with the illustrious Shirlee Kalstone, trainer Pat Widmer, and his brother Al Nash, John set about creating what would become the Nash Academy, with a groundbreaking curriculum for training the most sought-after groomers in the world. John opened the Nash Academy in New Jersey in July of 1979, with the vision that educating groomers was much more than merely teaching them how to cut a dog's hair.

The curriculum that John used at that time still forms the basis for the Nash Academy's curriculum today. Then, as now, John believed that bathers, groomers and stylist should have a theoretical foundation for their work with dogs, and should know about canine anatomy, illnesses and diseases, nutrition and psychology as well as first aid and CPR. Coupled with this was John's belief in the importance of expertise and style, along with his belief that the nascent industry desperately needed standardization to insure competency of those working with dogs.

John took a leadership role while judging grooming competitions in the late '70s, to elevate the job of dog grooming to an art. In 1981, John judged the first International Grooming Competition at Intergroom--and dog grooming as a worldwide art was born.

In 1984, John Nash was judging the Poodle Class at Intergroom. One of the leading competitors in that class was his future wife, Vivian. The rest is, as they say, history. The sparks that flew because of that meeting have created not only a great personal love story, but a love affair between these two individuals and the industry they are both committed to bettering and, like many great creative collaborations, working together, the Nashes became major catalysts for change in the pet care professions.

Student Exchange - First in the Pet Care Industry
The first of these revolutionary innovations was the creation, with Naoko and Mick Tsujihara of the esteemed Sepia School in Japan, of the first student exchange program for groomers, giving the students from each school an unequalled cross-cultural experience, and furthering the Nashes' desire to internationalize and standardize the industry. In 2000, the Nashes created a similar program with the KK School of Frankfort, Germany, owned by Karin and Udo Kretschmer. Both of these programs continue to thrive at the present time.

Graduates Achieve Highest Awards in Industry
In the 1980s, the accolades and the recognition for the Nashes kept coming. Loretta Marchese, a graduate of the Nash Academy who had become an instructor there, was named International Groomer of the Year at Intergroom. As has been mentioned, Vivian Nash herself won that honor in 1986, and another Nash Academy graduate, Sue Tapp, won the award for American Groomer of the Year. It was quickly becoming clear that the Nashes had become the authorities on educating aspiring dog groomers, and in 1987, Vivian Nash was made an adviser to the Oster Corporation to help them create their first group of grooming videos.

Nash Kentucky Opens
In November,1988, John moved from New Jersey to Kentucky and opened a Nash Academy there, with Vivian bringing her stunning expertise and in-the-ring experience as a competitor, plus her renowned and unequalled scissoring and profile skills, to the table, moving the Academy and the Nash curriculum to the next level.

Together Gained Industry Recognition Worldwide
Together, John and Vivian judged competitions, gave seminars, and attempted to move the entire industry toward a standard of kindness and compassion for pets, and exacting and artistic expertise in skills. Vivian was also appointed to the State Board for Proprietary Education by the Governor of Kentucky in recognition of her skills as an educator and developer of curriculum for trade-related schools, on which she served for 3 terms.

The Cardinal Crystal Achievement Awards are one of the highest honors given to pet care professionals specializing in the art of dog grooming and styling, recognizing contributions to the industry of the highest order, and in 1991 both Vivian and John were honored--Vivian winning the Cardinal Crystal Achievement Award for Dog Grooming Competition Judge of the Year, and John winning the Cardinal Crystal Achievement Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Dog Grooming Industry.

John was also appointed Vice President of the Kentucky Association for Career Colleges and Schools in that same year, and became that organization's president in 1999, while Vivian continued to contribute her voice to monitoring state approved schools and bettering education in the state of Kentucky with her seat on the State Board for Proprietary Education.

Co Founded International Judges Association
Vivian's and John's desire to better their beloved industry never stood still and the interest of standardization of judging in grooming competitions, along with insuring that all judging was done on the basis of merit and fairness, the Nashes founded the groundbreaking International Judges Association for Dog Grooming Competitions in 1998.

The Nashes' vision of establishing dog grooming and styling as an art, and those who achieved excellence in it as artists, moved toward worldwide recognition with the founding of the IJA, as the Nashes put together a group of renowned judges who traveled the world, in teams, to judge grooming competitions.

IJA Nominated for Industry Award
At this same time, Vivian created, for IJA use, the first manual for judges to follow when judging dog grooming competitions, which included the establishment of time frames, types of classes, and procedures for judging, so that the seriousness and fairness of grooming competitions might never be questioned. The IJA itself was nominated for the Cardinal Crystal Achievement Award in 1999 and 2005.

Scissorcize to Mambo #5 - Big Time Hit in the Industry
In the same banner year, 1998, that saw the creation of the IJA, Vivian introduced her revolutionary scissoring technique, Scissorcize, at a competition in Berlin, Germany. Scissorcize showcased Vivian's innovative and expert scissoring techniques, set to music, to underscore her belief that the rhythm and grace of scissoring was a major part of correct technique; since that introduction, Vivian's scissoring methods have been accepted worldwide, and she is known as "the queen of scissoring."

Joey Villani Take Over Nash New Jersey
As well, in that same year, Joey Villani became president and owner of the Nash Academy in New Jersey, after being associated with the New Jersey Academy since its beginning. In 2008, Joey Villani became a media celebrity with the debut of the American Idol-esque reality show, "Groomer Has It," on the Animal Planet Network, when he was selected to be one of three judges for the entire show which also featured Nash graduate Jonathan David and Will Comparsi among the contestants. Joey remains a valued industry consultant to the Nash Academy, which has centralized its activities in the Lexington area.

Nash Academy Graduates - Super Stars
And the awards kept coming in 1998, with Sally Smith, a Nash graduate, winning the Golden Scoop Award, the highest honor given by the American Boarding Kennel Association. In 1999, another Nash graduate, Jay Scruggs, was a member of the official Groom Team due to his skill and breed knowledge expertise.

Since 2000, accolades for the Nash Academy, and the Nash devotion to improvement in education, have skyrocketed. At Interzoo 2000, the very first Nash Diplomas were presented to a group of experienced pet care professionals who were allowed to "test out" of the Nash System--knowledgeable, expert groomers who could prove their expertise were given the prestigious documentation of the Nash Diploma, as the Nashes have long sought to standardize grooming knowledge and education, in a necessary movement toward licensing of professional groomers, just as human beauticians must be licensed.

Nash Academy Graduates - Super Stars in the USA
In that same year, Jay Scruggs once again won a position on Groom Team, and did so once more in 2001, making that his third straight year on the team. He would then go on to win American Groomer of the Year at Intergroom in 2002--making the Nash Academy very proud of this stellar graduate. Jay Scruggs continued to bring recognition to the Nash Academy as he was on Groom Team once again in 2003, and was, in 2004, the first winner of Groomer of the Year at this award's inception at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, perhaps the most prestigious dog show in the world.

2003 and 2004 saw the arrival on the scene of another stellar Nash Graduate, as Alicia Bismore was named to the Groom Team as well and won the Winners Circle, making her a contender for the Triple Crown in 2003. She was named to Groom Team once more in 2004, attesting to her brilliance and skill, and she won the Extreme Makeover Competition at Intergroom in 2005.

Since those years, the awards and recognition have continued apace. In 2005, the IJA was nominated once more for the Cardinal Crystal Achievement Award for outstanding contribution to the industry. A unique "triple play" for the Nash Academy occurred in that year as well, when Kathy Rose, a Nash online instructor and IJA Team Director, and John Nash, the Ring Master, along with Jay Scruggs, were all nominated for Contest Judge of the Year, an honor which was repeated for Kathy and Jay in 2006, with Jay winning the coveted award in that year.

Triple Crown - Highest Award and Purse in the Grooming Competition World
The prestigious Nash Diplomas were awarded once again to test-out students at Interzoo in 2001, as the Nash Academy continued in its quest to recognize pet care professionals who shared their devotion to expert ability and compassion and safety for all pets. But, more than this, in their desire to constantly bring needed attention to their beloved industry, to recognize and award those who practiced in it with brilliance, and to gain recognition for the skills necessary to be an expert groomer, the Nashes created, in 2001, the most exciting and prestigious of dog grooming competitions. They called it the Triple Crown, harkening to the highest achievement in Thoroughbred horse racing, and with participating sponsors, offered a $20,000 prize to any individual winning three "Winner Circle" Classes. This was the largest prize ever offered in dog grooming competition history and, it should be noted that, in 2007 the purse was $30,000.

Daughter Tany Slater President of Nash Academy
In 2003, Tanya Slater, daughter of Vivian and John and a skilled groomer in her own right, was named President of the Nash Academy, Kentucky. Tanya has been active in the Academy and in dog grooming since childhood, and is an animal lover and activist who is skilled in all aspects of the pet care professions. Tanya, groomed to be a leader in the industry, literally grew up at the Salon, exhibiting her love of dogs and her skills as a very young child watching her mother, and learning from an early age how to run a grooming salon business. At the young age of 18, Tanya was overseeing all operations of the Nash Academy while Vivian and John traveled, working with pet care professionals internationally to spread their Nash methodology of grooming and styling dogs using kindness, compassion, and the ultimate in artistry, as they have always believed that the future of the pet care professions was international and worldwide, rather than being an industry contained by geographical boundaries. Tanya also became Director of the Art Department at the Academy, designing the Academy's web sites and overseeing the creation of all other promotional material used by the school and in 2004, took the Nash Academy to the next level by taking the international known curriculum online. Tanya also remains a valued industry consultant, as she raises her young daughter, Sydney.

Nash Take Famous Curriculum Online
The Nash Academy celebrated its 25th anniversary on July 8, 2004, and on that date, the Nashes introduced their most stunning and industry-changing innovation in their educational methods yet: online courses.

The Nash curriculum had always utilized a theoretical, academic foundation which complemented its practical skills training, reasoning that a basic knowledge of dog behavior, anatomy, nutrition, health, illness and injury was a necessity for all professionals, as a groomer sees a client's pet more often, and knows a client's pet better, than the pet's own veterinarian, and that keeping a dog both beautiful and healthy was the goal for expert groomers. But, the Nashes reasoned, wouldn't this wealth of knowledge, accumulated in the academic side of the curriculum since the Academy's inception, be the best starting point for an aspiring groomer? If this information could be taught before the student began his or her hands-on training, wouldn't that be a boon to the practical training?

First in the Pet Care Industry to Offer Theory Online Courses
Online education was, at this point, in its earliest stages, and the Nashes saw the potential there for their curriculum to be disseminated: students could get their theoretical education in everything they needed to know about the dog before beginning their practical training, and they could do it from home, wherever they were in the world, working within their own frameworks of family and job-related obligations, and come to the Nash Academy prepared to begin practical skills training with the necessary knowledge to begin the intensive Nash practical courses in grooming. Still in keeping with the traditional method offered by Nash for years, students may attend the online portion during their practical skills training with an instructor available, if needed, to assist them during the online.

Seeing the need to have more practical locations to make it possible for more students to attend and receive this high level of training in the wonderful and exciting world of dog grooming and styling, the Nashes have added approved training practical skills training sites and internship locations with Nash graduates around the world.

As well, this new program fit into the Nash desire to internationalize and standardize the grooming profession, as salon practices and procedures, including organization, safety and sanitation guidelines were offered in these courses as well as a thoroughgoing background of information about man's best friend. The education of pet care professionals had entered the modern era thanks to the Nash vision.

Nash Team of Specialists Makes History
The creation of the Nash online courses was a monumental task, undertaken virtually from scratch by the Nash team, with their daughter Tanya leading the way. They brought in international professional handlers and dog experts and added the expertise of their son, Shawn to create the anatomical illustrations which clarify canine physiology and their daughter-in-law, Gail, who began compiling this information. Roberta Smoodin, was brought on board as the Director of Education and Curriculum Development, with a diverse background as a university professor of English and Creative Writing, as a writer of fiction and non-fiction in nearly every genre, as a magazine editor, and as an advertising copywriter in Hollywood and in the Thoroughbred horse business and with a lifelong love of animals and working with animals.

The Nash team responsible for the online courses continued to grow, and became a massive labor of love for the Nash team. This revolutionary offering of online courses has continued to evolve, and to be refined, and in July, 2007, a completely revised and updated version of the online courses debuted, fully illustrated with photographs, drawings and anatomical diagrams created by Holly Matney and designed by Rocky Blevins and David Smeltzer.

The Man's Best Friend and Professional Series of Online Courses have been a resounding success for the Nash Academy, fulfilling their promise of equipping students with the knowledge they need to begin their practical training in dog grooming. Because of this success, the Nash Academy offered their first courses in cat and horse care in 2008, as the Nashes sought to extend their belief in education coupled with their philosophy of kindness, compassion, safety and love of all animals to other species and other aspects of companion-animal knowledge. The Nashes also updated and re-configured its Diploma Program in 2007 to reflect the expanded, refined, new curriculum.

First Online Reference in the Pet Care Industry
2008 was also memorable for more Nash innovation: the premier of two long-time Nash projects, developed over decades, the Canine Reference and the Groomers' Reference. Each is a massive, all-inclusive online database, unlike anything else ever developed for reference by dog lovers and pet care professionals. The Canine Reference is a massive compendium of information on all registered breeds of dog, containing the histories of each breed, the breed standards, breed behavior and psychology, trainability, and all physical traits, which will be a boon to dog lovers and professional alike. The Groomers' Reference, similarly organized by breed but also by coat types, is the first online visual grooming guideline available for bathing, grooming and styling each and every breed of dog, an encyclopedia of dog grooming at the fingertips of every groomer seeking information about head, ear, eye, foot, and coat types, and how they should be handled during every phase of grooming, whether you are creating a show or a pet trim at the salon; complete access to the Groomer's Reference is available to every groomer worldwide. These twin references are designed to further standardize and internationalize the industry which the Nash team is so devoted to.

As well, 2008 was the tenth anniversary of the IJA, marking an entire decade for this organization, in which standards and guidelines for all grooming contest judges and show organizers, at the most prestigious competitions in the world, have been established and maintained.

Throughout their innovations in education, Vivian and John Nash continued to be sought-after speakers and participants in grooming conferences world-wide, known for their articulateness and contagious enthusiasm for all topics related to the grooming industry. They were also at the forefront of the wave of support nationwide to license all dog groomers, which they believed to be inevitable and will further encourage professionalism, safety, sanitation and standardization of the grooming industry. Through all this, though, their main focus was the creation of a grooming industry focused on artistry, and on compassion, kindness and safe handling of all pets at all times. Vivian and John shared all this, and functioned virtually as one being in their innovations and ambitions.

Industry Says Farewell to John Nash
On December 17, 2009, however, tragedy struck, when John lost his lengthy and courageous battle with cancer. For all those who knew him, whether professionally or personally, the loss of John continues to resonate, as he was a unique and wonderful man.

The Show Must Go On
Vivian carries on John's courage, as she seeks to fulfill all that they, together, dreamed of for their beloved grooming industry. She is boldly moving forward with innovation at the Nash Academy, with projects from internships at Nash-approved salons and schools around the world to expanding the domain of the IJA to improving and refining existing courses, as she carries on the Nash dream of a truly international standard of dog grooming, with a single language, and a single goal of kindness and compassion for pets paired with the renowned Nash Artistry.