We were so excited to sit down with Mel from Pet Haus, one of our favourite brands for pooches. Finally! Dog gear that is cool. Pet Haus specialises in battle jackets for dogs, you may be familiar with their Instagram account featuring their cute pups Willie and Trigger.
Hi Mel! We love your bespoke take on dog jackets and accessories, what was your original inspiration for this idea?
Thanks! Our new puppy Willie desperately needed a coat for cold nights hanging with us at the pub. We looked at what was out there and saw nothing that resonated with us. Matt’s exact words were “I’m not dressing my dog like a dick”. In the end, we hand-made a battle vest to match his dad’s and the rest is history.
How long did it take for you to get from prototype to market?
In the beginning, we hadn’t planned a business so we were literally making them for people that would stop us in the streets because we loved doing it and seeing all the custom visions come to life. It got overwhelming quickly handing out phone numbers on bits of paper so we started an Etsy store a couple of months later. A few months after that our website was born and we were officially a brand. So I would say under 3 months from idea to market.
What have been your biggest internal and external challenges running your label so far?
Internally especially in the early days, finding the time to manage the business and be creative. We probably missed lots of opportunities early on as we had started as more of a hobby than a business and didn’t have the time or structure to scale to demand as fast as we would have liked.
Externally the usual production hiccups and now that we’ve established a niche trend we have a number of cheap China knock-offs driving the market prices down.
In a flooded marketplace, featuring players who’ve been around for a long time providing them the flexibility to create similar products – how do you keep ahead of the pack?
Being so niche, and first to market we’ve created a tribe around us and an online dominance. Quality, design and authenticity are very important to us and I think fans of the brand can see that. We aren’t about what’s trendy either, our gear is a reflection of our style and we create new products that we love for the people we know will get it. We lead the pack and don’t follow the trends.
Any final advice you’d have for someone looking to launch a label?
Know what your business is and what it’s not going to be. Know who your customer is and don’t try to be everything to everyone. Don’t invest too heavily in the beginning, it’s important to have the ability to be flexible within your market and to make changes as things come up in the early days. Create communities, get involved in them, and always treat the early customers who started us off like the rock stars they are. It’s ok to make mistakes as long as you learn from them!
Thanks for chatting, Mel!