Discover Woof and Meow in the Scottish Design Exchange
Emma-Louise Ewing at Woof and Meow has more than one customer to satisfy. The people who buy her designer leads and cat and dog accessories have to be impressed by the quality care and design flair that goes into these unique products.
But at the other end of the lead – so to speak – the four legged customers have to be just as impressed by the comfort and durability of the material. Not that they don’t appreciate the subtle designs using Harris Tweed and other fine textiles, or the way the delicate colouring brings out the lustre in their pelt, but that’s not much help if you decide to take off after a squirrel.
Recognising that owners want the best for their pets in much the same way that parents will compromise everything except for their children, Emma-Louise has built up a loyal and expanding following in her first 2 months in the Scottish Design Exchange at Ocean Terminal.
Here she tells how Woof and Meow sprang into life –
‘I have always been either drawing, writing or making things for as long as I can remember.
‘But the business all really started about 12 years ago when my oldest dog was just a puppy. He kept snapping his dog collars, he wasn't even a strong puller, but when I looked at the collars I realised why. They were poorly made with very cheap components.
‘So the search was on for a better collar. But if you don’t like leather collars, and I don’t, there didn’t seem to be much available.
‘If you can’t find something that suits, then the only thing to do is make something yourself. And that’s what I did. Sourcing high quality trim and fabrics that I liked myself, I simply learned how to do it by trial and error.
‘Having kited out my own pup, I put some on ebay just to test the market. People loved them
It seemed like a nice hobby, but given the great feedback I had and the fact that health issues were making other types of employment difficult, I thought the time was right to move it on to a business footing.
‘Health concerns have been a continuing challenge, but I have worked on to grow and develop my business. Like all small enterprises the business side is probably more of a challenge than the craft element of the work. But I set out to learn the skills and to build up my business skills.
The snake bow-tie
‘I get my inspiration from walks in the Scottish countryside – it’s where I’m happiest. For example I’m working on a range of dog toys and it’s based on the wildlife that I see on my walks. I have no shortage of ideas, they jump into my head all the time – even when I’m sleeping. I’ve got my notebook handy at the side of the bed – my dream-catcher.
‘Requests from customers can be imaginative too – I’ve been asked for a parrot harness and a bow tie for a particularly dapper snake.
‘But it’s equally important that good ideas get translated into products that use high quality materials. I use Scottish raw materials like Harris Tweed where I can and also source from top textile suppliers like Jaquard of the USA.
‘Being able to sell my products in Ocean Terminal has made a huge difference to my business. The enthusiasm and positive energy of Ocean Terminal and the Scottish Design Exchange means I have access to a large shopping centre with its big footfall, while being able to work with people who understand creative business of my size.
‘My midnight sketches will soon be transformed into a new range of dog beds and toys. My longer term dream is to develop a shop-workshop unit where customers can see the products being crafted as they buy. It would be fantastic to be able to offer jobs and apprenticeships that would develop craft skills.
‘The ideas just keep coming – at all times of the day and night!'
Find Woof and Meow in the Scottish Design Exchange on the 1st floor.