As we return from our brief hiatus we have the pleasure of bringing you a Small Business Spotlight featuring the fabulous Ruffle Snuffle® owned and run by Sarah White who might just be the most inspiring person we’ve ever had the pleasure of featuring. Without giving too much away, this tenacious business woman has fought an incredible personal battle in order to keep her business, and with it her dream, alive. We are absolutely honoured to be able to share her story with you so, without future ado, I would love to introduce to you to the wonderful Sarah!
Hi Sarah, thank you so much for joining us. Firstly, what inspired you to start Ruffle Snuffle?
I was working as an Animal Behaviourist with canines, equines, livestock and caged animals when I started designing and producing a range of enrichment products to help with behavioural and welfare issues. The products were so popular that I then decided to make them available to others. I now sell my snuffle mats, treat balls, tug toys and other goodies for all kinds of pets online at www.rufflesnuffle.com. I’m inventing products and testing them all the time; just recently I’ve added the ability to personalise snuffle mats and toys too. It’s important to me that they are durable and machine washable for hygiene purposes.
Now, some of our readers may not be aware that just over a year ago you suffered a stroke and ended up in hospital half paralysed. Now you’re no longer stuck in bed, how have you coped with your recovery?
From the minute I was able to in the hospital I worked tirelessly on helping my body learn again. Sleeping was almost impossible, so I would be sitting up in bed at 3am just manipulating things from the ‘grip box’ that the physio’s supplied to regain use of my left hand. By the time I left hospital two weeks later I had some mobility with assistance, but not much sensation still on my left side. Over the months I have continued with as much physio as I could manage. It was incredibly hard. All the things you take for granted you can no longer do. Eating, washing, sleeping, tying up your hair, scratching! I have been incredibly depressed, angry, frustrated and grumpy! But I am a strong willed and positive person. and over the last year I have improved immensely. I still struggle on a daily basis with fatigue, memory loss, mobility and the constant pain of ‘pins and needles’ down my left leg, but considering I lost half of the right side of my brain I am happy.
How did you manage to maintain and grow your business after such a life-changing event?
Ruffle Snuffle® survived because of the dedication and commitment of my family and friends. We all pulled together (and still do) to share the tasks and keep up with the orders. I’m blown away by how everyone got stuck in, whether that was learning something new, making time and space – I had to move the business to my Dad’s barn – and putting in the huge effort required to do what was needed running about. With my speech and mobility returning to my left hand I was able to crack on with marketing the online shop as going out to see clients was definitely not on the cards. Technology has been a great help. Dictating articles, (I write for celebrity trainer Victoria Stilwell’s blog and have my own column on The Good Vet & Pet Guide), working with bloggers, charities, dog shows and all kinds of activities have been fun.
What is the most important thing you have learnt in the last year?
Having a stroke at such a young age has completely changed my perspective on what really matters in life. Time is a currency that you can only spend once and can’t make any more off. I like spending mine with family, my dog, my pony and making things to bring happiness.
What is your favourite thing about running Ruffle Snuffle®?
It has to be helping the animals and their owners have a better relationship. Whether they are creatures large or small (or exotic!). I love receiving photos and the testimonials from everyone. My other favourite thing is the amount of time that I spend with my mum.
What does the future hold for you and Ruffle Snuffle®?
My goal is to reach out to animal owners in the UK to educate them about how positive training and my products can help enrich their pet’s life and make them both happier together. I’m proud of the recognition my business and products have already received. Being placed in Britain’s Top 10 Pet Accessory Brands was superb. This followed a string of awards including one from Jacqueline Gold CBE for inspirational women and I am looking forward to meeting Theo Paphitis and collecting my SBS Award from him in February that’s for sure!
Doodle Review: Dinky Oscar Ruffle Snuffle® mat and Tuggers™ Twist,
As some of you may have seen, we recently went on a little glamping trip up North. Any time away from home can be stressfully for even the steadiest dogs, as a doodle that can be a little anxious Mum needed to make sure that we took some toys that would increase my mental stimulation and help me relax. At home we have an enrichment mat but it is just not practical to take away with us, it’s just too big – into the spotlight steps the Dinky Ruffle Snuffle®!
Upon unpacking our box from Ruffle Snuffle® it was immediately apparent that it was just a little bit more special than our standard toy delivery. Our Ruffle Snuffle® was in our very own personalised tote bag, with our name embroidered in rainbow letters on the front – how cool is that?! It is that kind of attention to detail that sets Ruffle Snuffle® apart from their competitors. Not only did our bag contain our Dinky Oscar Ruffle Snuffle® but also a Tuggers™ Twist, finally someone that understands that I don’t always want to share with Rhapsody! Our new tote bag was perfect for packing all our toys in for our little holiday – lots of space for all our favourites!
When we arrived in Lancashire the humans needed to do boring things like unpack and eat dinner so Mum decided it would be the perfect opportunity to try out our new Dinky Ruffle Snuffle®. On unpacking our bag Mum noticed that the fleece on the Ruffle Snuffle® is much more densely packed than on either of our other enrichment mats. This makes it more of a challenge for us to find the treats and means that it keeps us amused for longer – a win-win situation for everyone I’m sure you’d agree! Our Dinky mat was just perfect for keeping us busy and tiring out our minds to make sure we had a great night’s sleep in our pod. The Dinky Ruffle Snuffle® like ours are just £12.50, at that price, can you afford not to have one in your travel bag? They are available in a range of different colours to suit all tastes and they are machine washable so no need to worry about how grubby they get!
Despite the name, Ruffle Snuffle® do far more than just their signature Ruffle Snuffle® mats, they sell a huge range of toys, cute bandanas, natural grooming products and even gorgeous personalised blankets! We were lucky enough to also receive one of their Tuggers™ Twists, (in matching fleece to our mat, of course) and boy is it a good one! Tug toys generally don’t last very long in our house – Rhapsody is part piranha and likes to slowly destroy our toys. So far our Tuggers™ Twist, is holding up very well, despite copious nibbling from you-know-who. Luckily the Tuggers™ Twists are only £5 so when Rhapsody finally does destroy it (which hopefully won’t be for a while!) we can just order a new one! Mum has been so impressed with the quality of our Ruffle Snuffle® toys that we have also just ordered two of their new Train ‘n’ Treat balls to try out – keep an eye on our Instagram story to find out how we get on with them!
We hope you all enjoyed this edition of Small Business Spotlight, I’m sure you’ll all agree that Sarah is quite remarkable and the quality of her products speak for themselves. If you’d like to keep up on the latest Ruffle Snuffle® news then you can follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for loads of cute pictures, information on new products and even the occasional special offer!
You can also check out Sarah’s blog section of her website here, she has loads of great advice on everything from house training to fun games to play with your dog!