Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Clare Edwards, Co-Founder of Houndsley, located in London, United Kingdom.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Houndsley brings stylish, cleverly designed dog walking bags & accessories to the marketplace. Our customers are the four-legged type and their humans who value quality, sustainability, and stylish, practical design.
Tell us about yourself
Becks and I were neighbours who became friends whilst walking our dogs through the beautiful countryside here. We often lamented the poor selection of bags we took with us that never held enough, fell apart, and didn't have anywhere to put the doggy deposits, so we decided to design our own!
Neither of us came from a background in design or retail; I had spent my career in media, and Becks acquires talent for multinationals, so it was quite a learning curve. We were determined to source everything locally as transparency and origin is important to us, so we researched widely before partnering with a manufacturer who we felt reflected our values perfectly. It was challenging but so exciting, and we learnt so much; it was all the motivation we needed to keep going.
When we launched our first bag, the response was immediately positive, and we secured some great PR coverage as there wasn't anything like our product in the marketplace. We were so excited as it felt all worthwhile after the hard work, and it spurred us onwards.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I think it was receiving the first shipment of our bags. After months and months of work, getting our hands on the final product was brilliant as it was exactly what we had envisioned from the outset. We couldn't believe we had actually done it!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
We launched Houndsley a year before the pandemic started, which ended up being very hard. We had just booked a series of events and trade fairs, which all got cancelled. We just don't have a big budget for marketing and advertising, so getting our products in front of customers was a key part of our strategy. We had to rethink, focus more on social media and find new ways to market. The hardest part of being a business owner is not letting it hold you down when things don't go as planned. You need to remain positive and look at things differently to find the solution if the road ahead suddenly swerves!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Believe in your product; live and breathe it. We both use our dog walking bags daily, so we know they work perfectly and really are of excellent quality. Also, we are always getting stopped and asked about them, so it's great advertising!
- Good product photos are worth their weight in gold. Don't spend loads on your website to start if you have a modest budget but do invest in good product pictures.
- Research the marketplace and set realistic targets. Don't be disheartened if you aren't a millionaire in year one! It can be a slog to get going, but it will pay off if the product is good and you believe in yourself.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
The thing we love the most is getting to meet new customers and their fabulous doggies! We are so happy that we are participating in consumer fairs and shows again. It really helps raise awareness and build our fledgling brand, so I'd really encourage people to not just work on social media and sit behind an online store but really get out there and be their own brand ambassador.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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