Where it all began…
Founded in 2020 by myself, Angela Duncan, Dapper dog accessories all started as I was made redundant due to the consequences of covid. At the start I was scared, like many, not knowing how I was going to provide for myself. However, I must admit this is one of the best things to have happened to me.
Leaving school at 17 I studied interior design at college still not knowing exactly where it would take me. After a few years of going from job to job I ended up in a sofa shop - not exactly what I had in mind when I did a interior design degree. When I got made redundant from this job I decided to get creative, it wasn’t the best time to start a business by myself with the whole country being in lockdown, but at the time I had no idea it would take over my life.
I’ve definitely been through highs and lows choosing this path for myself, the support from my amazing family and friends is probably what’s kept me going. And as much as I enjoy creating, it’s only a fraction of my job.
Teaching myself how to sew wasn’t the only thing I needed to learn I soon realised, I had to figure out the best way to display my products, to capture them at there best in a professional manner, this came with a lot of trial and error, but, as you’ll see from my listings I’ve finally settled on what I think gives the best reflection of my products photo-wise so that what my customers receive through the post is exactly what they expect.
From starting on Etsy with just a few products it was enough to keep me busy and interested, as months went on I was able to learn more and more on fabric choices, sewing techniques and who the best suppliers where. From here we've just seemed to grow into what is becoming a steady business.
Creating a presence online is a high part of becoming a ‘brand’. People need to know who I am and know that I am I’m it for the long run. This is when I created a Facebook and instagram page. I needed a platform people could interact with me if they chose to, and for me to be able to showcase my products and try and get the word out about Dapper Dog!
Shamefully, I’ll admit I’m not the most interactive account on Facebook or instagram (something I’m trying to work on!) but just having my page was enough to give me the break I needed. I was contacted by a lovely teacher from George Heriot’s. She was interested in me making up a jacket, collar, lead and bandana for her pup Hugo -who is also a therapy dog at the school! She requested the items be made up in the schools own tartan, wow, this was exciting for me and of course I was happy to oblige.
This order alone was great but what came next was a bigger shock, the school contacted me asking if I was able to do an order for them! They thought it would be a great way to help them raise money for their pupils that need fee assistance. So I got to work, my first bulk order of collars & leads in there very own tartan. It was a great project to work on and helped me gain experience and knowledge whilst doing it - a win win!
I was excited after this and it prompted me to try harder, this lead me to contacting the princes trust. After a few months with no avail, I filled out another form and much to my delight I was contacted by them.
They run a scheme to help young people start up on there own, they give you the help and support you need and offer a grant of up to £1000 to help you get your feet off the ground. Don’t think this comes easy now, there’s a lot of hours you need to put in to get this grant. From sitting in on workshops every week on everything business - cash flow, networking, marketing, HMRC, ‘let’s start trading’ sessions, confidence sessions, enterprise sessions and so many more - a LOT of hours as you can imagine goes into these and then you have sessions with your monitor on top of it all, but they are all crucial and are eventually what lead you to creating your very own business plan to present in front of a panel of business ‘gurus’ who decide whether or not you get the grant.
I was successful. I was ecstatic. I was able to invest this money into getting a proper industrial sewing machine which has helped me thrive - especially when George Heriot’s came back to me to place another order!
Whilst all this was happening I was also able to get my foot in the door and become one of the many makers part of ‘The Leith Collective’. Yes that’s right, I’m not just online - you can find me in there two branches at Ocean Terminal and Fort Kinnaird! Being in a shop has been such a great opportunity and I love walking in and seeing my products hanging up, but it too came with trial and error - I had to think about packaging, sustainability and fair pricing - as the collective take a percentage of the sale, I still want to be an affordable price for my customers.
This helped me with the confidence of expanding into more shops. If you take a stroll down leith walk you will also see my products in the lovely Yellow Souls, an independent vintage clothing shop run by the wonderful Elena - it’s a pleasure working with her!
Now, I’m currently working on a catalog. My idea is to create something professional, simple and easy to understand to send out to more creative & independent businesses that would love to showcase my products.
Waking up every day and not having a feeling of dread that I have to go into work again is such a relief, it's exactly why I do it. Having always had a creative mind, I leaned towards interior design, however life had other ideas and I think I've ended up exactly where I need to be - as now my love for dogs is included in my job too!
All items in my store are made by myself, I try my best to get all my fabrics from the UK to support other small businesses around me. I hope you enjoyed hearing my story and how far I’ve come - it’s been a little longer than I planned!- &I hope you enjoy my store even more, thank you so much for visiting dapper dog accessories 😊!