When we met the Petprenuer – Bow Wow Vow

I’d been mulling over the idea of wanting to do an  series of blogs talking to some inspirational petpreneurs for a while.  New pet businesses offering a whole host of services are popping up everyday. With the amount we spend on our pets in the UK rising and rising, it’s no surprise.

For this series of blogs, I was clear the kind of businesses I wanted to speak to. Not the ones who started off with hundreds of thousands of pounds. But the ones who risked it all and quit their jobs. The ones who turned £100 into £1000, that £1000 into £10,000 and so on and lastly,  the ones who used their full time jobs and budgeting skills to start something part time –  with a dream of it one day being their full time career.

 Since starting my blog, and joining Instagram, I’ve quickly built up a mini network of small, independent petprenuers, so had a good few businesses on my hitlist to chat to. The first one being Bow Wow Vow

 

So who are Bow Wow Vow?

In brief – Bow Wow Vow is the brain child of former primary school teacher and all round lovely lady Bex. They offer flexible services to allow you to have your dog at your wedding day, arranging everything from pick up, grooming, entertaining them, taking them where they need to be and most importantly, making sure someone is there with your dog for as long as you need them to be, so you can relax and enjoy your day. I didn’t even know this kind of service existed, and so wish I had have done for when we got married. 

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

To kick off our chat – tell me about how your love affair with Dogs started?

“I was never allowed Dogs as a child. My Dad had a strict rule of no pets in the house, therefore I had a summer house filled with animals instead.  Hamsters, Gerbils, Rabbits, Guinea pigs.  I even had Gold Fish in the  summer house”

Seriously how funny is that rule, especially considering dad is in fact a dog lover and regular baby sitter to Bex’s now dog Barney.

“As soon as I bought my own house, I got a dog”

Its also very clear, Bex is such an animal lover. Her and her husband now have Barney, a rescue Lurcher in his twilight years, and she also has rescue chickens and is a passionate vegetarian.

When did you first get the idea for Bow Wow Vow?

“When we got married, we really wanted Barney to be part of our day, but struggled to figure out how it could work. In the end, our dog sitter offered to bring him down. However, she also had other dogs she was sitting at home so couldn’t stay long and it was all a little bit uncomfortable and weird, having the dog walker in the corner sipping a glass of champagne with the Barney on the lead. It was great to have him there, but I wanted him to be there all day. I remember thinking then – there must be other couples who have the same dilemma and that’s when the idea first come to me”

Its clear to say, if you are standing in your wedding dress on your wedding day and a business idea still presents itself in your mind – then you really are a true entrepreneur.

However, Bex was a primary teacher at this point – a good one at that – and whilst frustrated at the growing amount of red tape in the profession, enjoyed it in the main. 

So what gave you the push to go from teaching to becoming an entrepreneur?

“I got to a stage in my life,  when I totally re assessed. My mum was diagnosed with Myeloma – a type of blood cancer, which will never cure as such, although she is in remission now. It just made me realise that whilst not unhappy teaching as such. I wasn’t as fulfilled as I should be. I had enjoyed planning my own wedding and thought it would be a great job to organise other peoples and I knew the organisational skills I had were transferrable.

I cut down my days teaching and went to get experience in wedding venues in the local area before eventually setting up Oakleaf weddings. Knowing how important it was for us to have Barney at our wedding, we offered an additional service of what we called ‘Dog of Honour’  I did the wedding planning and making sure everything went right on the day and I hired another member to the team to be the dog handler that way my focus wasn’t split.

Over time, the ‘dog of honour’ requests just saw such high demand that it needed to be its own business and that’s when Bow Wow Vow came along. 

When you told people you were setting up a business all about dogs at weddings, what reaction did you get?

“It was actually really positive, but don’t forget I had already been running a wedding planning business. If I had have gone straight from teaching to Bow Wow Vow then it would have been a very different conversation. But we had already covered it when I first set up Oakleaf. People had faith in me as a business owner and could see the demand was there. What was lovely is the amount of friends who wanted in on it. I now have a bank of friends, some are stay at home mums or work part time and want something flexible. Whenever we have a wedding one of them will come along and be the dog handler, or what we now call them the ‘pet plus one’ 

Don’t get me wrong, the whole dogs at weddings idea did raise a few eyebrows from older family members.  Mainly because If you think of weddings 10 years ago, they were all a bit one size fits all, here is the package. You can now have as bespoke wedding as you like, so why shouldn’t you have your dog there”

How do you differ from any competitors?

 

“I had seen a few businesses offering a dog sitting service at weddings, but were offering it just as one package at a full day rate. Weddings are really expensive and this just added another cost.  If you only wanted your dog there for a few hours, or likewise the venue had restrictions that they couldn’t be there all day, it seemed a tall ask to pay for a full day rate. Bow Wow Vow do it all, if you want to see your dog for as little as half an hour on your special day we will make that happen for you. It was so important to us to have our dog at our wedding I simply wanted to make it accessible for all couples. 

We meet a lot of a couples who say – I’d love to have my dog there but they are just not well behaved enough. Yes they are, its our job to make sure they are exercised, entertained and therefore well behaved allowing you to focus on your day. We give them treats through the day, but ensure they are all natural and won’t make them hyper – plus a lot of dogs have allergies”

Lastly, what words of advice would you give to anyone who was where you are, in a full time job but with a great business idea?

 

“I would say to go out and get experience in whatever field you are wanting to set up in and also – Just go for it. Lastly, sometimes the job fulfilment you end up valuing more than the money. You can adapt to want less things, but job fulfilment is so important. The traditional wedding planning side of our business is where most of the money is, but there’s just something so fulfilling about making someone’s day that extra bit special by them being able to have their dog there”

Thank you so much to the lovely Bex at Bow Wow Vow for such a lovely afternoon.

if you’ve enjoyed the first of our petpreneur interviews – check out our second here