Every week, we shine a spotlight on the best small brands we think are worth shouting about. We love our great British high street, but there are so many fantastic independent brands out there making clothes, accessories, homeware and more from a place of passion and love and we need to support them – now more than ever.
From fashion and beauty to homeware, accessories and food, we bring you the best small businesses you need on your radar. This week, we chat with Paige Gillard, founder and CEO of Poppy + Ted, the stylish dog accessories brand.
What is Poppy + Ted and how did it come to life?
Teddy (4-year-old Frenchie) is the star of the show, the ‘big boss’ and chief bark-eting officer – and his best pal is Poppy (4-year-old human ‘cousin’). Together they love nothing more than hanging out, going on walks and of course taking nap time together.
Poppy + Ted came to life in 2018 as a dining room table idea. I always wanted to get back to a creative outlet but never quite knew what angle I wanted to take. It took a long five years once having gotten my pup, Ted, to realise one day that it might be quite fun to make him a collar. I spent hours searching for fabrics, finishing touches, drawing out my ideas and then once the fabric arrived, I dusted off my sewing machine and made my first sample, a collar for Ted. Once it was made, I set up an Instagram page and founded our brand Poppy + Ted. I had the support and encouragement from friends and family, with Ted also having his own Instagram community of followers himself @teddyboyfrenchie, who loved what they saw and began asking how they could get their paws on one too. I set to work developing and perfecting the collar, scaling it to different sizes as well as working on a matching lead.
What three words would you use to describe Poppy + Ted?
Essential, comfortable, stylish!
Who is the Poppy + Ted customer?
Every dog owner, looking for comfort and style for their pup! We are passionate about creating essential, practical pieces that make everyday walkies enjoyable for both dog and human. We have so many designs and colour palette choices to suit so many styles, we’ve something for everyone!
What inspires new product ideas?
Being a dog owner myself I am my customer and I’m forever coming up with ideas for new products and prints. We love to offer fun designs, but we keep it stylish all at the same time. We look at fashion trends and seasonal trends and I take inspiration from all of this. Wild Leopard Khaki is our #1 all-time best seller – it was one of the first designs we ever released and our customers love it.
What does a typical day look like for you?
No two days are the same and sometimes my day doesn’t go to plan, but that’s OK and it means it’s never boring. Currently, having just welcomed a beautiful baby girl into the world, my typical working day has an added element of juggling to it and I’m still finding my feet as a new working mama.
My day usually starts with a little scroll through our Instagram account – I can’t help it, our customers are the cutest! Nothing makes me happier than seeing a new dog in some Poppy + Ted, that always puts a spring in my step.
That’s followed by a cup of tea whilst catching up on emails and admin. I’m a list kind of gal and always have one on the go, so you’ll find me trying to tick off as many of those as possible, which can include following up with our manufacturers, designing a new collection or planning out our content for the week.
What’s the best thing about running your own business? And the most challenging?
The work/life balance! I’ve always wanted to ‘be my own boss’ for many reasons, but the flexibility of working on my own terms was one of them. The reality is I worked every hour under the sun, especially in the beginning. But things are a lot different now that I have a team and having that flexibility to spend more time with family is a huge plus. However, things have come full circle again and being a working mama now (to my 9-week-old, Harlow) I have a new ‘normal’ with two babies to look after – my business and my actual baby! It’s all about balance and finding my feet again – a challenge but oh so worth it!
The most memorable moment so far?
Selling out of our brand new Treat Pouch at launch in less than two minutes. I couldn’t believe my eyes – I saw a problem and I wanted to fix it. So, from taking the product from drawing to finished product and having it sell out so quickly was an incredible feeling.
Which product is your current favourite?
100 per cent our Treat Pouch – it’s an absolute must have for any dog owner. It’s perfect for training, keeping your hands free to concentrate on the task at hand. But also for everyday – the number of times I used to leave the house trying to juggle house keys, treats, leads, phone etc… It’s an everyday walking must-have for me.
Anything exciting in the pipeline for Poppy + Ted?
So much! We are growing rapidly and have outgrown our current HQ, so next up for us is a big move which will enable us to further grow our team and explore and develop more product lines.