All photos taken by myself and Aura Photographs
This week's Small Business Spotlight is a really special one for us as we are featuring Luna's Loft. Owner Hannah has become a close friend of ours over the last six months, we've shared many a long day of walks and visiting shows all over the South, almost always followed by tea and cake, not to mention the hours of conversations between both of our multiple social media accounts discussing new products and colour combinations! Later you'll hear all about why we love the products she makes but for now I'll pass you over to Hannah to introduce you to her fabulous brand!
What made you want to start Luna's Loft?
Instagram was my main influence for Luna's Loft. Initially it was my love for rope products that got me interested. I kept seeing all these beautiful handmade and hand dyed rope leads over in the US, but I was always put off purchasing one due to the extremely high shipping fees! I didn't quite love them enough to be spending near £70 on a single lead, plus the customs if any applied! This then prompted me to source the materials myself and have a go at making them for my girls! I've always had a creative streak, so I thought it couldn't be too hard, right? How wrong was I?! It took me weeks to make a lead I was happy with, so many attempts, so many design changes and so many dying attempts before I was finally content with what I had made! I made a few for the girls, and to my surprise, people started asking if I could make one for them! After several requests I figured it was time to open up a shop, and here I am now!
What makes your products different from the generic accessories you can buy in pet shops?
Well for a start every single item you buy from Luna's Loft is handmade! I make almost everything, the only time it's not made by me is when I'm a little overrun, mother jumps in to help! Although I still make all rope items, she's always found the rope to be quite daunting – personally I think she just wants to avoid the blisters. What also sets us apart is that you can completely customise your items! The rope collars and leads can be dyed in any colours you like, in any order and with any combination of twine whipping!
Which are your most popular rope lead colours?
My most popular rope lead colours are the navy and wine ombré's, followed closely by the Citrus Mist, which is a wonderful combination of aqua blue, tropical green and yellow!
How long does a rainbow rope lead take to make, from plain natural rope to the finished product?
A rainbow rope lead takes 3-4 days to make! The first day of production is the 5 colours of dye that have to be done individually, each colour taking an hour to set in, leaving rinsing time in-between each colour. This normally takes me 6-7 hours depending on how many lead I am dying at once. The next 2 days are drying time! If I'm really lucky, and the weather is really hot I can get them dried in 1 day but in normal conditions it's 2 days drying time. The last day of production is putting the leads together, measuring out the correct length, adding the clasp or O ring, splicing and whipping. This takes about 30 minutes per lead, so in total you are looking at 8 hours of manual work for just one lead – the drying time causes the lengthy production.
Which is your current favourite bandana?
My favourite bandana at the moment has to be the Pandana, those little panda guys are just adorable! We have been selling them so fast, and we're almost all out! However we will have a slight variation coming back into stock in the near future which I am SOOO excited about!
What's the best thing about owning and running Luna's Loft?
The best thing for me personally is the wonderful feedback and support I get from my customers daily. I love getting wonderful messages of people telling me how much they love their new accessories! Not only that but when I'm having an off day for whatever reason, I know that thanks to the wonderful community we have built, I always have someone to talk to and cheer me up. Oh that was far too deep for me, next question please!
What does the future hold for Luna's Loft?
Our Autumn rage! We are super excited to be releasing our Autumn pieces. Some very exciting, top quality flannels will be poking their heads out to say hello, in a variety of checks and stripes in maroons, mustard yellows, blues etc.
On top of that we may have a sneaky little range of tricolour twists and super soft ropes. No promises on those yet but we've got all our fingers, toes and paws crossed!
Doodle Review: Luna's Loft Accessories
Back at the beginning of the year you may remember that we had a photoshoot with Luna's Loft to help model their first ever collection with our entire gang and pal Kevin. Forward-wind six months and Luna's Loft has gone from strength to strength, they have taken the dog accessory world by storm with their unique bandana design and high quality rope accessories, they've also recently added bow ties to their repertoire! The quality of their products is, I hope, clear from our photos, there are many reason why we love our Luna's Loft gear and I'm going to try to take you through them by product!
For this post Hannah very kindly sent us a selection of her accessories to review; 4 bandanas and three leads (plus a matching collar that we already had) and an exclusive Watermelon bow that is a collaboration with our Mum's company, Devil Dood Designs.
First up are our bandanas. For the purpose of this blog Hannah kindly gave us two bandanas each, one of which was reversible (to add to our growing collection). The reversible bandanas have to be our favourite, it's like getting two for the price of one and with prices starring at just £9.99 it almost feels like stealing! A number of 'reversible' bandanas we have seen on Instagram have a pattern on the front and a plain colour on the back, to us, that is not truly reversible because, let's be honest, who wants to wear a plain bandana?! All of Luna's Loft's reversible bandanas are properly reversible. They feature a different coordinating pattern on each side and they are never dull! Colin's reversible bandana is the 'Morris' and is navy and white stripes on one side and a pale blue polka dot on the other. Rhapsody's reversible bandana, the coordinating 'A Day In The Park' in pink, is a gorgeous cream and pale pink floral on one side and a pale pink polka dot on the other. Admit it, if I hadn't told you, you'd have thought we'd had six different bandanas in this post!
The second pair of bandanas Hannah chose for us were 'Crazy Daisies' for our very own crazy Daisy and 'When Flowers Fly' for Colin. This set of bandanas are single sided (they are backed with a neutral coloured fabric so they're not like some of the light and flimsy bandanas with just a single layer of fabric you see) and we just love the bright, colourful patterns! Luna's Loft offers something for everyone, they have a large range of more subtle patterns like the reversible ones we showed you earlier and also some more garish ones for those that like to stand out! We like a little of both so it's great to find a shop that can cater to all our bandana needs and you can guarantee she'll have designs that you can't find anywhere else. All Luna's Loft bandanas are also finished with a little button, we love this little touch and think it shows how much care and attention goes into each and every one. Luna's Loft single sided bandanas start at £7.99 and come in 5 sizes to suit pooches of all sizes. For reference, Rhapsody wears an XXS and Colin wears an XS so their sizes do come up slightly larger than other brands.
But why do we love Luna's Loft bandanas SO much? It's simple, they sit beautifully and can survive anything you throw at them! In general, Mum buys us over the collar bandanas, purely because tie bandana usually leave a huge unsightly knot behind our heads. #smalldogproblems, am I right? Unfortunately slide on bandanas mean taking our collars on and off every time we want to do an outfit change. And nobody has time for that. Luckily, the ribbon tie design of the Luna's Loft bandanas means you can have the best of both worlds, a bandana that is easy to get on and off without an ugly knot! I know what some of you are thinking, surely a ribbon tie isn't going to be that robust? Well I'm here to tell you that we've put these bandanas through their paces and they ain't going anywhere! Even if you get them all wet and muddy, a quick spin around the washing machine and they're good as new. Luna's Loft bandanas can also be finished with elastic instead of the ribbon ties on request, Rhapsody has a few in this style and they are every bit as easy and stylish with no bulk at all behind her neck.
Next we move on to Mother's latest obsession; rope leads! Over the last few months our collection of rope leads has slowly been growing, ever since we got our first ever Luna's Loft rope leads in February our Mum has just been totally obsessed! With most quality rope lead makers being based in the USA (who's postal service charge a fortune to delivery internationally), Luna's Loft is a total life saver. There are some other makers in the UK but we have not seen any (bar our friends at Bramble & Friends) that even touch the quality of Luna's Loft yet. For the novice rope lead buyer, the most important thing to look for when you're buying rope lead is the quality of the splicing (the bit that looks braided by the clip and the handle) and whipping (the bit of twine that is wrapped around the end of the splice). Poor splicing and whipping means that your lead is likely to fall apart and unravel after a few uses. This could culminate in a lead failing whist in use and possible causing injury to yourself, your dogs and the public. If a rope lead price seems too good to be true, walk away. You just can't take risks with your dogs or your own safety.
My Aqua ombré lead is the perfect example of quality workmanship, everything feels very secure and Mum knows that no matter what it will keep us both safe. It also looks stunning as Hannah has mastered the art of the subtle ombré, something you will not see from all rope lead shops! Luna's Loft leads start at just £12.99 for her basic ombré colours and her rainbow leads start at £19.99 which is very reasonable when you consider just how long they take to make! Luna's Loft also make collars from their cotton rope using the same techniques as they use for their leads. The soft nature of the cotton rope Hannah uses means that her rope collars do not cause any matting or hair breakage, a common problem for dogs of many different breeds including poodles. You can have a collar made to match any of LL's rope lead colours, my Aqua ombré is our favourite but the current collaboration with Collar & Tweed (pictured above) has also caught Mum's eye!
For this blog we were luckily enough to also be able to test Hannah's brand new 'Nifty Knots' leads alongside her traditional rope leads. This style will be available soon alongside their current lead range. The 'Nifty Knots' range uses strong sailing knots to secure both the clip and the handle leaving a cute tassel-like finish at either end. This style is just as secure as the traditional splicing and whipping method, after all, if sailors use them to secure their boats I'm pretty sure they can handle a bit of pulling! The 'Nifty Knots' lead come in a simple, neutral colour however if you wanted to be really fancy you could have a knotted lead in any of Hannah's rope designs! Rhapsody's lead, in the colours of Kevin's Rainbow (named after our pal Kevin!), is certainly pretty fancy – all those colours and pretty, tassled knots, what's not to love?! It's safe to say we are a huge fan of this new design, whatever will she come up with next?
Finally we have our Luna's Loft Watermelon bow, this is the most recent in a somewhat growing collection of Luna's Loft bows for us but this one is just a little bit special. Why you ask? Because it has been designed in collaboration with our Mum's shop Devil Dood Designs and will be available exclusively as a limited edition set! This Watermelon set will be launched next week via Luna's Loft's Etsy shop starting at just £15 and we can't wait to see you all rocking it! As you can see from the picture, Luna's Loft bows aren't just any old bows, due to secret reinforcements, these bows hold their shape even when dragged through muddy streams, under overgrown bushes and up into trees (as tested by Colin). After all, no one like a floppy bow. No one.
You can purchase all the items featured in this post from the Luna's Loft Etsy shop here. To keep up with their latest designs, offers and lots of cute pictures of pups rocking their Luna's Loft accessories you can follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter too!
That's all for now folks, we will be back in a couple of weeks when the hooman gets back from her holiday – we didn't approve her break but apparently it's happening anyway. We're staying with our pal Tilly so make sure you follow her on Instagram to keep up with our adventures while Mum is away!
This week’s Small Business Spotlight is a special one for us as it also coincided with Colin’s third birthday! For this reason we chose to feature the wonderful Wild Paws who, alongside many other fabulous products, sell doggy Birthday Boxes! More about those later, for now, here’s Catherine to tell you a little more about WildPaws,
Hi Catherine, thanks for joining us, the first thing we are sure all our reader are desperate to know is how did WildPaws start?
In the summer of 2014, we took our Jack Russell, Wilbur, away for a short break to Oxfordshire for his birthday. It was his first time coming away with us and we all absolutely loved it! Both of us have always been big photography lovers so we took our camera with us. Strolling around the beautiful countryside taking lots of snaps of Wilbur – it was a dream come true. We started wondering what it would be like to become pet photographers for a living. Photography and animals: our two favourite things! What started out as a dream came into fruition in 2015 with the help of the Prince’s Trust, so here we are… Continue reading
This week’s Small Business Spotlight is a little different from usual, but hey, sometime you have to step out of your comfort zone and try something new! This week we are featuring Inky Fingers Illustrations, run by the lovely Tia. Tia creates bespoke portraits of pets, including dogs, cats, horses and other beloved pets in the mediums of graphite and watercolour. As art is entirely subjective and we are definitely not experts, we would never be able to properly ‘review’ their work and feel that it would be unfair for us to pass comment on the works of art created by the artists we feature. Instead we have decided to have the interview portion of this Small Business Spotlight feature as normal, followed by a gallery of Tia’s work for you all to enjoy. With that said, we hope you all enjoy finding our more about the person and inspiration behind Inky Fingers Illustrations! Continue reading
This week’s Small Business Spotlight features a dog bakery called Faerytails. Faerytails make everything from doggy birthday cakes to training treats, all using wholesome ingredients and no nasty additives. Previously we have tried their liver cake, cookies, pup stars and cookie pops and we loved them all so we are thrilled to able to feature them! Here to tell you a little more about the Faerytails story is Cia,
Hi Cia, thank you for joining us. What was the inspiration behind Faerytails?
I’ve been baking since I could hold a whisk and always baked cakes for people, so when it came to my dogs’ birthdays it seemed right to make them cakes too. I adopted Roxie from the Bernese club of GB’s rescue and she didn’t have the best of starts. We’re members of a few of the breed groups on Facebook and we normally make an event for birthdays, so everyone wish the dogs a happy birthday on their day. When I set one up for Roxie, we got quite a few actually wanting to come along, so had people from all over the country showing up for my little girl’s birthday at Elvaston castle, as they all knew her story. As a Southern Swede, you can’t have a party without a bunch of baked goods and obviously the dogs needed some too. All the dogs went a bit crazy for the treats, and I was asked if I would consider making them to sell and it kind of snowballed from there.
We had a princess at a castle, with a happy ever after, that’s the stuff Faerytails are made of right?
What makes you different from other dog bakeries?
We are 100% wheat free. One of my guys is allergic to wheat, among a lot of other things, so from day one that was something that was important to me, as well as the only oil used in any of our treats is coconut oil.
We make all our colourings ourselves, using only vegetables, berries and plant extracts, so instead of adding nasties, we’re adding vitamins.
Why is it important to you to use such high quality ingredients?
I am really particular with what I give my dogs and I wouldn’t feel right making things for other people’s dogs that I wouldn’t give my own.
We get our free range eggs straight from a local farm and our oats straight from the mill, which means they’re as fresh as possible.
Do you offer treats suitable for dogs with allergies and intolerances?
Absolutely. We will work with the owners to find the best solution for their dog.
Which items are you best sellers?
Our birthday cakes and packages are always popular. The loaf cakes are quite new and has been a big hit, especially for dogs that need a softer treat. Our Pup stars and Cookie pops are really popular for training treats.
Flavour wise, our top sellers are Tuna, Lamb liver, Peanut butter & Banana and our 2 new additions Apple & Cheese and Cheeseburger.
Do you offer baked goods for occasions such as birthdays?
Birthdays and celebrations are one of our specialities. We sent out our 700th personalised cake this week. We have everything from personalised cakes and cookies to edible bunting and tags, as well as goody bags and party food. Our cakes comes in sizes from Mini to XXL in a large variety of shapes, colours and flavours, so there is something to suit everyone. We also offer a grain free cake for those on a grain free diet.
I love Christmas, so we’ve got a great selection planned for this year. We started getting pre bookings for this year’s Advent calendars in December last year, so we must be doing something right.
Anything else you’d like to tell us about Faerytails?
Helping dogs in need is a big part of what we do. We’re proud sponsors of Street dogs matter, who helps dogs who’s owners are homeless, as well as doing monthly donations of vouchers to rescues to help with their fundraising. So far this year we’ve sent out over 40 donations, something we wouldn’t have been able to do without our awesome customers.
Doodle Review: Faerytails Loaf Cakes
Faerytails packages should come with a warning to your postman. Seriously. I think frequency of postman-dog incidents will rise once the dogs of Great Britain discover the wonder of Faerytails. Before Mum even opened the box we were going absolutely nuts (luckily she had the forsight to protect our lovely postman by sending us outside while he handed over the goods). We’ve always love the smell of all our Faerytails packages and this one was no different. Our magical package contained not one, not two but THREE loaf cakes – we were spoilt for choice!
The basic ingredients in the cakes are; eggs, oat flour, coconut oil and water and then, in the case of our three cakes, either sardines, chicken liver or lamb liver are added. By now I’m sure you all know how fussy Mum is about what she feeds us so she loves that fact that all Faerytails treat contain so few ingredients and nothing nasty! The cakes we received are the new smaller loaf size, about 2/3 of their full loaf size.
Clearly we loved all three cakes but unfortunately that does help you decide which one you should order! To help you out we decided to do a taste test to see which of the three cakes we each preferred. Mum gave us a small piece of each of the cakes and let us decide for ourselves! From left to right the cakes are sardine, lamb liver and chicken liver.
Well that got us no closer. Let’s be honest, all we achieved there was filling our bellies and showing you that all three cakes were great and you should order a selection! Luckily for you, next Sunday (the 4th of August) you could get three loaf cakes for just £10 at the Doggy Delights August Market Night! Click here to check out some of the other items available and how to claim this awesome offer! You could also buy any single cake for just £4, but honestly, we don’t know how you’d chose between them! The cakes retail at £7 each so this is truely a great bargain. Even at full price you get an awful lot of treat for your money, the cakes can also be frozen in portions so you don’t have to eat it all at once (although we recommend that you definitely do!).
You can check out all the delicious offerings from Faerytails on their website here – we highly recommend their cookie pops for a first time taster as well as their cakes, they’re the perfect training treats! If you order this evening (Sunday the 30th of July) you can use the code CELEBRATE to save 10% on all their treats!
This week’s Small Business Spotlight features a company called SnuffleMats® If you’ve not heard the term before then you are about to discover something totally life changing for you and your dogs. Seriously, these things are amazing! Here to enlighten you all is Nicola that owns and runs SnuffleMats®.
Hi Nicola, thanks for joining us! First thing’s first, what are SnuffleMats®?
SnuffleMats® are the perfect enrichment to your pet’s day, allowing them to use their natural skills of sniffing and foraging for kibble / treats that you have hidden within the mat. Consisting of a durable natural rubber base combined with polar fleece, this puzzle gives your pet a great mental workout.
What inspired you to start your company?
Harry our rescue was our inspiration to start SnuffleMats®, he’s been with us since 2006 and will celebrate his 12th birthday later this year. We are always looking for new ways to keep Harry entertained, Having made Harry one of our SnuffleMats® I posted his pictures on social media, we quickly gained a lot of interest from friends and family initially, but very quickly enquiries came through from further afield (We have supplied in to 13 countries to date both EU and ROW) and as the business grew, we had to trade mark SnuffleMats® in 2015 to protect our customers from other imitations in the market place that may not be up to the standard that Harry enjoys.
We added Ned the Sled into our family in April 2016, after spending around 12 months in kennels Ned quickly grasped the aim of SnuffleMats® and enjoys a good snuffle with his daily meals.
What are the benefits of SnuffleMats®?
Providing enrichment for your pets is so important, especially when it comes to preventing behaviour problems and giving them a good quality of life. Foraging for food is a key instinct and great stimulation that should be nourished, SnuffleMats® provide a safe, enjoyable way in which you can encourage your pet’s natural skills.
Some of the key benefits of SnuffleMats® are; helping to refine search and find skills, they encourage attentive play, provide mental stimulation, perfect for the golden oldies and pets with impairments such as loss of sight/hearing. Can be used for behaviour modification training and they may help reduce stress.
Pets never get bored of using SnuffleMats® every visit to the mat is different for them, where about is the food hiding and which treats do I get to try to hunt for today?
Who can use SnuffleMats®?
Any pets who enjoy snuffling can enjoy SnuffleMats®
Our most frequent customers are Dogs and Cats of all breeds, sizes and age. Our SnuffleMats® help zap energy from puppies whilst providing fun and stimulation for the golden oldies or those on restricted exercise.
More recently we have supplied SnuffleMats® to a pygmy hedgehog and a house pig.
Which is your most popular colour combination?
SnuffleMats® prides ourselves on offering colour combinations suited to our customers and would not want to limit anyone’s creativity (where possible)
If we were to shortlist some favourites we would suggest the following: Rainbow Mix, Blue Mix, Red, Yellow & Royal Blue, Red Tartan, Pink Mix and Multi-Coloured Paw Print
Our customers such as Veterinary Practices, Dog Trainers and Independent/Bespoke Pet Shops take a cross section of the above colour combinations, although some will take SnuffleMats® that match their logo or business image colours.
Anything else you’d like to tell us about SnuffleMats®?
SnuffleMats® are very proud to be recognised by Kate Mallatratt, who is a Canine Behaviourist and member of ICB Global, Kate had tried and tested our mats thoroughly with her own dogs and has kindly chosen to endorse our product and recommends SnuffleMats® to all of her clients.
Here at SnuffleMats® we recognise the work of rescue centres across the country, we hold monthly giveaways where our Facebook community nominate their chosen rescue centre, the winners are chosen randomly. So far, this year alone, we have donated over 20 mats to help residents giving enrichment and enjoyment and/or to help with the much needed fundraising all rescues face.
Doodle Review: Large Rainbow SnuffleMat®
Nicola very kindly sent us a large rainbow SnuffleMat®, they come in two sizes – a large SnuffleMat®, like ours, which measures 16 x 16 inches retails at £25 plus postage and the smaller version which measures 16 x 8 inches is £20 plus postage. The first thing we noticed on unpacking our SnuffleMat® was that it was definitely big enough for lots of dogs to snuffle at once – perfect for a multi-dog household! The rainbow fleece is very soft and gentle on nose when we’re snuffling, Rhapsody sometimes likes to use ours as a bed – when there’s no food in it, of course!
Mum uses our SnuffleMat® primarily to distract us from things and to reduce my anxiety. And by things I mean people, animals, cars or anything else that moves going past our windows. We like to let every one what’s going on and the neighbours definitely don’t appreciate our alerts. As we do use it rather a lot Mum tends not to put actual treats in it but to use a high quality kibble instead – we pick up loads of sample packs at the shows we attend and for some reason unbeknown to Mum (between you and I it’s purely because we never get kibble!) we think it is the best thing ever! She simply sprinkles the kibble over our mat and off we go. For a more challenging snuffle she uses a few higher value treats and really conceals them within the SnuffleMat®. This makes us really use our noses and work harder to find them – but it’s so worth it when you find the cheese or sausage!
As you can see from the pictures, we love to snuffle! We even took our SnuffleMat® to Grandma and Grandpa’s with us so Des and Eve could have a go and they loved it too which was a surprise to the hoomans as neither of them really play and Des isn’t motivated by food in the slightest, even he was interested in snuffling! As Des and Eve approach their senior years (both of them are 9 next month) and walks become more and more difficult the SnuffleMat® will provide them with great mental stimulation without the stress on their aging bodies.
We would highly recommend a SnuffleMat® to all our canine friends, we love ours and because it’s never exactly the same it never gets boring unlike most other toys! They are great mental stimulation for dogs of all ages and have really helped to reduce my anxiety in stressful situations.
You can buy your very own SnuffleMat® on their website here and also follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to keep up to date with the latest news, offers and cute pictures of pets snuffling!