An inspirational chat with Petprenuer – Paws With Opulence

I was left feeling really pumped after my first petpreneur interview with Bow Wow VowRead here it’s a goodie! – so much so I was worried how i’d get something as good for the future blogs. I need not have worried. The second of my #petprenuer series saw me talking to the tenacious Simone at Paws With Opulence. It’s safe to say, she did not disappoint.

When I first posted on Instagram I was looking for petpreneurs to chat to, Simone messaged me saying would love to share her story. I immediately got on with a little bit of stalking. This led me to the fact that Simone is a young entrepreneur, who saw a gap in the market and in under three years has built a brilliant brand with a significant social media following – not to mention some well known customers. Yes that’s right – If you are a Real Housewives or TOWIE fan you may have seen some of her merch on the telly box!!

So who are Paws With Opulence?

In brief – Paws With Opulence are a luxury dog accessory online retailer. Their target market being people who like a bit of luxury, don’t mind paying for it and also want that for their dogs.  Mainly catering for the petite pooches – Chihuahua’s, Frenchies and Pugs etc. They sell dog collars, leads, beds (or thrones actually) and dog tags. What makes them luxury?  Well if you want your pampered pooch to have a real white gold name tag with Swarovski crystals, then you’ve come to the right place.  

So without further ado, lets dive straight into our chat.

How did the idea for Paws With Opulence first come about?

“I’d always wanted my own business, but ended up with a job as a lot of people do. I was working for the local council as a project manager and when I lost that job, I found myself at a cross roads. I got quite low and was really struggling as to what to do. My Aunt had seen something for the Princes Trust and said to me, you’ve always wanted to work for yourself, why don’t you look into it. I also already had in the back of my mind, that if I did start my own business, it would be offering luxury accessories for dogs. We had Charles, our family dog who was a Chihuahua and I could never find things for him that I thought were nice enough. After all, Charles was a King”

So tell us about how the Princes Trust turned it into a reality?

“I applied to the Princes Trust and went through their assessment process and was offered a place on their enterprise programme, you get to attend various workshops on different subjects from SEO to defining your target market and writing a business plan. The people coming in to teach the workshops being experts in their field that would charge a lot of money for their knowledge in the real world. You also get teamed up with a business mentor to really help you launch the business.”  

I’d always heard good things about the Princes Trust but I’d never until now spoken to someone who was a direct beneficiary of the good work that they do. After speaking to Simone, I’ve looked into it more and what they do is simply amazing.  It only makes me wish I was younger so I could take full advantage of what they do.  So for anyone reading this who is 18-30.  I would whole heartedly tap into this resource if you want to make your business dream a reality.

Sadly during this time, Charles passed away, however that only made Simone more determined to forge ahead in his honour.

With the inside track on everything you need to know to run a business, was the launch pretty easy?

“Not really, The hardest thing was finding a manufacturer to work with me. I initially started with collars and leads, but all the manufacturers I spoke to either had minimum runs I couldn’t commit to, or they were asking to see my website, know my history in business etc. and I didn’t have anything to give them. It was really hard to get someone to take a chance on me in the beginning, but now I’ve expanded into tags, beds and custom made to order items too.”  

14k Instagram followers is no mean feat, how did you manage that in such a short space of time?

“From day one, I understood the importance of social media and you do need to put the effort in. In the early days I was posted 3 times a day, plus liking and commenting and doing everything I could. You do really have to put the time in. These days I’m now focusing more on SEO on google. I’ve done very little paid activity as I really want it to come organically.” 

It all sounds like a great success story in less than 3 years, any bumps in the road?

 

“Absolutely….hundreds. When I first got the business idea I wanted to call it something else that incorporated my surname, I even spent money on a logo. It was an advisor at the Princes Trust who advised against it and told me that the name needed to reflect what the business was offering. I love Paws With Opulence as a name as its really clear its about luxury, but I was gutted I’d already spent money I didn’t need to.”

“There was also a really difficult time when I nearly considered just giving it up. After the struggle of finding a manufacturer for the collars and leads, The one I eventually started using then said he couldn’t do them for me anymore. They’d got a large job in and couldn’t do my small orders anymore. It was really difficult after it had taken so long to find them in the first place, knowing I had to start from scratch again. I actually thought for a bit –  This could be the end of it”

What words of advice would you give to anyone who was where you are, at that cross roads with a business idea – but felling a little lost

 

“GO FOR IT is what I’d say. Just go for it!  Also, don’t rush, there is no need. Spend your time researching everything. Who your customer is, the competition, really take your time to get it right. Be the customer who you are trying to sell to, what do they want, really understand them. I know my target market is those people out there who want luxury for themselves and want their dog to also have luxury.

I’m also a massive believer in everything happens for a reason. If you work hard enough, are positive and have desire and urgency it WILL happen for you.  No one else is going to have more belief in what you are doing than you will” 

Wow, its enough to break out in Beyoncé style singing right there. With such an amazing attitude, I can’t help but think that in time Simone would make a great mentor to new people coming through the Princes Trust enterprise programme.

Lastly, it’s so sad about Charles, but being a huge dog lover, we have to ask, can we hear the pitter patter of tiny paws? 

 

“I really want another dog and was actually supposed to get one in January but I just realised how busy I was and how I didn’t have the time I’d want to take out of the business to spend training a new dog. I really do want to get one but the timing has got to be right”

It’s worth mentioning at this point, Simone is not exaggerating how busy the business keeps her, she does it all on her own. Liaising with factories, posting orders, updating the ecommerce site and her new favourite thing SEO – All her. What a force to be reckoned with!  I felt totally inspired after our chat – especially when it comes to getting through those rough patches every start up with inevitably have. Thanks so much for our chat Simone.