• Tue. Jan 18th, 2022

A ‘Woman’s Best Friend’ : How One New Jersey Woman turned her love for dogs into a Luxury Pet Grooming Business


“I’m a dog lover, a dog caregiver, a dog stylist, a dog’s best friend, I can go on with that list. They really are my life! I don’t know what life would be like without them!

Ashley Ann is the owner of  “Diamonds in the Ruff ” in New Jersey. Established in 2015, Ann’s clients include author and television host, Shanda Freeman, New Jersey’s Housewives and Cake Boss’s, Maddalena Castano.  The 28-year-old is the first African American to complete a master’s study program in Chongging, China, Yin Li Pet Grooming school.

What sparked your interest in pet grooming?

“As a young child, I have always had an interest in dogs. Once I became of legal age to get a job, a pet grooming salon, was one of my first choices. The day that I picked up my first pair of scissors everything just felt right, and the rest is history from there.”


It’s still amazing that in 2019, African-Americans are still being the first in something. For you, it was the first to complete Masters at Yin Lin Grooming School in Chongqing, China. Why that particular program?

“In Asia, dog-grooming is a form of art, groomers are held to a very high standard. I immediately developed an extreme interest in the Asian techniques, when I was first introduced to it, a few years ago. It quickly became my passion. I not only wanted to further my education in the grooming industry, but I wanted to bring the same techniques and meticulous grooming styles to the USA. Yin Li was one of the first academies to help me accomplish my goal.”

What did people think when you told them you were going to school in China? How was your experience there?

“Most people thought I was completely crazy! Not only was I flying 20+ hours to a different country, but I was also traveling by myself abroad to study and the English language isn’t primary. Fortunately, my parents and my grandparents were very supportive of my decision, which helped make the choice much easier. The experience overall was nothing short of amazing! Everyone treated me so kindly there. It was very fun learning to speak Chinese. It still feels surreal no matter how many times I share the story!”

Your passion for pet grooming, sparked the creation of Diamonds in the Ruff? 

It [Diamonds in the Ruff] has truly become my sanctuary. It is the one place where I can really make a difference in people’s lives by adding happiness through a grooming session with their pups. My grooming boutique is a luxury boutique located in Lincoln Park, N.J. It is my pups’ home away from home. It was very important for me to create a wellness-centered environment, where pet parents can really know that their babies are safe and will come home looking fabulous!”


What’s your favorite part about being a business owner?

“I love being able to give something natural. I enjoy being genuine, but as an entrepreneur, I appreciate the freedom to be an advocate for my dogs. It makes me feel comfortable that I can say if something isn’t being done right, or if a dog isn’t being taken care of properly, without worrying about ‘the customer is always right.’ It’s been the most important thing for me to spread knowledge and awareness to the proper maintenance of dogs. I am blessed to have my own business and the fact I can really help make a change.”

ashley6“What makes me a Royal Woman is knowing that the sky is the limit! I’m rebellious, I’m a hard worker, I think outside the box. I know that I came from royalty, my ancestors were royalty, and I’m just building my legacy. By being the first African American to accomplish this in the year of 2019, that has already shown me the path that God has aligned for me. Diamonds in the Ruff is just the first steppingstone in order to build a legacy. I plan to make a difference in the world and that is something only a Royal Woman can do!”


Ashley Ann aspires to open the first African-American grooming school in the United States. Follow Diamonds in the Ruff on Facebook and Instagram


Alexia McKay

A working journalist, entrepreneur and founder of RoyalTee Enterprises. Born and raised in Tampa, Fla. The vision of RoyalTee was inspired in 2015 by Alexia’s ambitions to return to her passion for creative writing and publishing and create a platform to showcase the excellence of minority women across the country through professional, personal and social ventures.