Hattie & Friends is a small Wellington business in which you can get amazing handmade, boutique dog beds, as well as leads and bandanas. We originally found out about Hattie & Friends when they were looking for dogs to model some of their products to feature on the website that they were launching. Diego and I raced to be a part of this event and so therefore you will now be able to find some pictures of Diego on www.hattieandfriends.co.nz. For being part of the photoshoot, Alethea put together an amazing package for us, which included a framed photo and CD of the photos from the event as well as special lead that only the models have. We have been using the lead every day recently and absolutely love the feel of it.
1. Do you currently own any pets, or have any plans to own any in the near future?
I have one dog currently, an almost 2 year old Maltese x Bichon Frise called Hattie.
2. What made you decide to start your own business? How did you form the idea and how did you get it off the ground?
The idea initially began when I made a dog bed for my co-worker and good friend, Christine as a 'thank you' for letting me bring Hattie into work. I had a lot of people comment on it, asking where I bought it from and when I told them I had made it they suggested I sell them. I made a few and put them into a doggy day care in Wellington and began looking into getting a website built. I found a fantastic graphic designer (Tim from The Underduck Graphic Design) who came up with the logo and all of our branding. I also had an amazing web developer (Andy at Cloud Edge) who worked with me to get our store up and running. As well as endless IT support Andy and his wife Cassie have always been on hand to offer me advice and their thoughts on designs, ideas and new products.
(A special thanks to Minnie and Mila their Dachshunds who graciously volunteered their time and services to be models, testers and tasters on numerous occasions – here’s to you ladies!)
The hardest part of starting a pet business is definitely getting traffic to the website and generating new sales. People love the product and they love their pets but on the internet there are a thousand large scale pet supply stores which we are in competition with (for traffic and sales) every day.
Another difficult part is getting supplies. I am determined not to compromise on the quality of our products so that means things can be hard to source, very expensive or both. I currently bring in all my collar buckles and tri-glides from the USA but because of shipping and customs charges I am only able to do a few orders at a time. I would love to be able to source these in New Zealand but, despite looking for the past 6 months, I’m yet to find a supplier.
5. What has been your biggest accomplishment since starting?
My biggest accomplishment would have to be launching the website. It was months of hard work and seeing it in the flesh was the most rewarding experience. I think I checked it every other hour the first three days it was up – I couldn’t believe it was finally live!
6. What has been your biggest regret since starting?
My biggest regret would have to be the fact that I am limited in the time I give to Hattie & Friends. I’m employed full time so I’m only able to work on it nights and weekends. I hope to be able to go full time with Hattie & Friends in the future though.
7. Where do you see Hattie & Friends in the next five to ten years?
In the next 5 – 10 years I would like Hattie & Friends to have expanded enough to have a physical shop and employ 3-5 staff members. I know that one day it will be a reality but as the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
8. Advice to anyone wanting to start up a small business
Here is my advice to anyone wanting to start up a small business:
- Have a vision, and believe that you can achieve it.
- Having confidence in yourself and your product/idea is one of the most important things you can do.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for or accept help – your speciality won’t necessarily be someone else’s and vice versa.
- Make sure to put together a really strong support team. To begin with this may be family and friends, it might be professionals or it might be a mix of both.
- Sometimes you will need professional help – an investment in the short term can save you a thousand times over later on.
- Remember that good things take time, that you might fall a hundred times before you succeed and that a dream is where it all begins.
I want to thank Alethea for her time in answering my questions, as I know she has a super busy schedule. Make sure you check out all of Hattie & Friends' products and social medias which I have linked below. I hope you enjoyed this interview and if you have any other small pet businesses that you would like me to interview, suggest them down below.
Thanks for reading :)