Talking about having confidence in yourself with Petprenuer – Adventure Dog Designs
We’re back with the fourth of our petpreneur interviews, and its yet another fabulous female – Links to our previous three at the bottom of this blog. The lovely Em at Adventure Dog Designs. Em is extremely humble and self deprecating and was worried she wasn’t as amazing as the other people previously featured. Spoiler alert she totally is just as amazing!
Em talked openly about her struggle with anxiety and how she often gets in her own way due to a lack of confidence. I think there are a lot of us that can really relate to this, I know I can.
What our chat really made me think about is how the motivation behind having your own business really has to come from what’s important to you. For Em, all her decisions are centred around being around for her dog Danny and working with animals but doing it on her own terms.
Through those motivations she’s built a great portfolio career with various strings to her bow. A pet sitting business, a travel blog @em.on.adventures and most recently, what we’re here to talk about – Adventure Dog Designs, beautiful hand made dog bandana’s made on her sewing machine with beloved dog Danny by her side.
Tell me about your relationship with dogs?
“Throughout my life, I’ve always worked with animals. I worked at the Dogs trust and I was a manager at Pets at home. Our Dog Danny came from the dogs trust.
He’s a Trailhound which are bred in the lake district to race and he wasn’t very good so ended up in the dogs trust. Originally we got him for my mother in law after her dog had passed away but it wasn’t a good fit and he was too energetic, so me and my boyfriend ended up with him, we hike a lot so Danny would definitely get enough exercise.
That was 10 years ago now and he’s 13 now. I’m so happy we were able to give him a home. working at the Dogs trust I saw the dark side to greyhound so its great that places like Lakeland Welfare exist for Trailhounds”
I’d personally never come across anyone with a Trailhound before and have since read up about them, They are a beautiful breed, but being bred for a sport leads to the inevitable when pups don’t take to it. The great news is there are great charities out there such as Lakeland Welfare that do a fantastic job in rehoming and offering adoptions. If you want to see how you can help click here.
If you want to see amazing pictures of Danny hiking his way around the UK with Em, you should definitely follow her @em.on.adventures Instagram page.
Tell us the story of how you became a Petpreneur.
“A few years back, I was working as a manager at pets at home, I was really struggling with anxiety and the stress and the hours were just too much that I needed to step back.
Once I had done that I started to think about what I could do. I had spent most of my working life working with animals but now I just wanted to do it on my own terms. My Dad had helped out with Danny when I was working at Pets at Home but then got a dog of his own and Danny is not great with other dogs and has separation anxiety. I had to therefore think of him which meant I could never got back to a 9am-5pm job even if I wanted to”
“I started offering pet sitting services and it really took off and now I have lots of regulars who trust me. So much so that I feel awful I can’t take any new customers on”
“The bandana idea happened organically really, I’ve always loved a dog in a bandana so I started making them for Danny. Friends and family then were interested in them and I started to think, maybe I could sell these. I’ve always been crafty, my entire family was, plus what else did I need apart from a sewing machine and fabric?”
Now you’ve done it has it given you more confidence?
“I’m just so happy I’ve done it. Struggling with confidence it can be really scary to take the leap, but i’m so glad I just decided to go for it. They say that when you buy from a small business, someone does a happy dance and it’s so true, I do lots of happy dancing, The feedback I’ve had has blown me away”
Having the pet sitting and the bandana business, how does your life differ from the previous 9am-5pm
“It has been a massive shift and just a huge breath of fresh air. Its so nice to be able to just work at home with Danny on my bandana orders, then I may nip out to feed a few cats. I just feel I can really take my time and have freedom to do that. I just wish I had have had the confidence to do it earlier”
In such a competitive market, how has Adventure Dog Designs become so popular so fast?
“The custom designed service has really taken off, people like to add a personal touch. I use Instagram stories to post when i’m going to the fabric shop and what fabrics people would love me to be able to offer. Then I can buy what I know people are looking for. When I have new fabrics in I Instagram them again and people are really receptive and say how much they love them. All my bandana’s are reversible too, so you are getting two for one”
“it’s so special to know your dog has a bandana that no other dog will have. I made one for a dog named Paddy that was designed around St Patricks day”
“There’s nothing nicer than when customers send me pictures of their dogs wearing them, I’ve had customers who when they receive their bandana, they go to order several more”
What are the future plans, could you scale the business up?
“I’m definitely not the kind of person who has a 5 year plan. My view is, just let it do what it’s going to do and nurture it along the way. I recently did a charity dog show and I made some toys to sell and they sold really well, so I may try that. It’s good to just try things, just do it and see how it goes. I describe myself as being Just a dog mum with a bit of a dream”
You’ve got to love this relaxed way of thinking, having my own issues with anxiety from time to time, ‘Thinking big’ and scoping out huge plans with goals and timelines can for some have the adverse effect – making you too scared and overwhelmed to even try something.
It’s reassuring to hear you can approach it in a one step at a time way and still get to the same place. That and never losing site of your motivations – Which for Em is centred around Danny’s needs now he’s in his twilight years and having freedom over her own career
What challenges have you had to overcome since launching
“I would say the only challenge has been me. I have very little other challenges, I make my own product so don’t have suppliers and work on my own, so there is very little challenge there, but the main issue is myself. I’m my own biggest critic and for so long as I was shall I, shan’t I. I wish I had had the confidence earlier to do it.
Once you’ve stepped over that hurdle and taken the first jump, it propels you to then take the next jump. Its massively helped with my confidence in general.
Lastly, we ask all our petpreneurs for advice for others. For you specifically that advice would be for anyone who is having those shall I, shan’t I internal conversations.
“I know its easier said than done, but just go for it, do it, give it a go. If it doesn’t work out that’s fine. Find that moment of confidence and take the jump, otherwise you’ll never know”
And to think she didn’t think she was that amazing! A portfolio career all based around dogs and in particular the lovely Danny.
I love how women especially are forming amazing businesses around what they need in their life, whether that be to work on your own terms, around your dog, kids, partner, all whilst utilising their lifelong skills, in Em’s case sewing.
If you enjoyed this interview – let us know and also check out our other inspirational petpreneur interviews