Karla Addington Smith, IJA Judge





Christein Sertzel grew up in a dog and horse family with a childhood filled with pets and farm chores, and she learned at a young age to value kindness to animals and awe of nature. Chris also began to learn grooming while quite young age from a mentor and went on to learn proper handling and showing of several other breeds as well as part of the AKC dog show circuit. 

While still in school Christein took a walk in job at a grooming salon and was hooked. After several months at this high volume shop, she left to get formal training and certification working as an intern. After a year, she took more time off to travel and follow the grooming competition circuit, fascinated with our industry icons and the newly developed GroomTeam. After two years of travel as well as doing some grooming study and one on one training, she used the last of her savings to purchase her first grooming salon. 

Over the years, she has worked in several of her own salons, vet clinics, and for free standing salons as well as corporate salons. All the while Chris gained knowledge and experience with a growing passion to educate and network with other groomers in effort to be at the forefront of her career and to benefit the grooming industry in ways larger than herself. After another 20 years of hands-on grooming, training, and working at growing her knowledge of all matters of grooming, it was time for a major change. Christein worked and received formal certification in first canine massage therapy, Reiki energy work and acupressure, and then in applied aromatherapy and flower essences therapy and basic TCM. Christein spent 3 years of hands on training and apprenticeship, with those who practiced both canine massage and acupressure as well as animal energy work and kinesiology. Her next venture was a bed & biscuit that she ran herself and offered grooming and massage care as well as grooming training to interns. 

After two years and a house fire, Christein moved and opened her spa in her current home where she also operates her canine massage and wellness center, and breeds and shows Cavalier King Charles Spaniels under her kennel prefix Windyway. 

At the same time Chris also started a non profit association she titled the Wisconsin Association of Professional Pet Stylists, to fill her need to work with and learn with other stylists, and to create a networking and educational medium for fellow groomers. Christein strongly believes in working together for the betterment of our own grooming and pet care industry. By continuing our grooming education on all levels whenever possible- awards personal growth and helps accomplish making grooming a career profession. In effort to provide learning opportunities for all interested stylists, Christein often gives hands-on and one on one training seminars and mentors stylists as they climb the industry ladder. Chris also takes on students and seasoned stylists to train at her salon to get them started out right or to help them with applied breed grooming and techniques and certification. Christein developed an in-depth and challenging formal testing and certification program for stylists to achieve their Certified Master Pet Stylist title, as well as many learning seminars throughout the year for WAPPS members. Along with other membership benefits for WAPPS members and fellow groomers, Chris holds an annual Pet Stylists Invitational- a trade show day of learning classes and a two-tiered grooming competition. Several months ago, Chris also finalized a member’s health insurance program for all WAPPS members and their families. This was a huge endeavor and celebrated accomplishment to get such coverage for self employed and employed members who could not afford reliable health insurance at their jobs or as head of household. Christein found this accomplishment hugely gratifying in that it got the needs of many of the WAPPS members and their families addressed and sent out a message that anything is possible if you keep trying. 
Lately Christein is showing her Cavaliers, grooming and training in her salon, has created an entire line of excellent organic and all natural canine skin & coat care products for the grooming professional called “Canine Spa Therapies. She also developed her own signature line of Element Grooming Shears, and illustrated a complete set of canine physiology reference charts titled, "The Canine Reference Series Chart Set", and thru this work, has been nominated for multiple categories 2 years in a row for the coveted Cardinal Crystal Award and has gained professional recognition from her peers for her ability. 

Chris also just recently finished her largest project- a Canine Esthetician certification course for the pet care professional along with a wonderful reference book titled, “Caring For the Canine Coat”. With this project accomplished, Chris continues to move forward with sharing and learning, and is headed into creating webinars and training videos. 

Aside from her career developments in our grooming industry, Chris is loving and learning from her family- three small children, 8 dogs, an incredibly supportive husband. 

As a lasting and final accomplishment, this year Chris is looking to finish her national certification with both the NDGAA and IPG, and to get back into the competition ring while doing it.

"It is my greatest blessing to have my wonderful family and to be able to provide for them; to be able to have a job which I love, to make friends and help so many others, and to be able to share my life with so many pets.