Since most of my customers live a long way away, it is hard to get to know each other but thank goodness for the internet.
People are often surprised to hear that I bought Fair Dinkum Dog Coats, my first business, at the age of nineteen. Straight up, I have to thank my family for their support because it is tough as a young person to get started in business.
I've always been great with the ideas, always dreaming of doing something new, but without my nan and pop's financial support, and mum and dad's advice, and grandma and grandpa's loan of a work space to get me started, it just wouldn't have happened. And, yes, I did pay nan and pop back!
Castlemaine in Central Victoria is my home town and it will come as no surprise to you that I love animals. We are a family that has never been without a couple of dogs at the door and some horses in the paddock to ride. That is just part of our lifestyle.
Born to a mother who can't sew a button on and a father who is a plumber, I thankfully inherited my father and grandmother's genes (Grandma was trained at Emily McPherson and taught sewing). I love working with my hands and was always keen to have a go at making things. I got my first sewing machine (second hand) for my thirteenth birthday so I could make my own saddle blankets.
School was great socialization but all I wanted to do was work with horses. My first jobs were at the Sutton Grange thoroughbred racing stables and then at Boomerang Ranch in Daylesford as a trail ride assistant. I loved both these experiences but fast realized that it was tough working in the outdoors all year round. I always wanted to be my own boss one day as well.
When a family friend advised that she was retiring and looking to sell her part time wholesale business I was immediately interested and, once again thanks to my family's support, I became the proud owner of Fair Dinkum Dog Coats in 2007. Owning a business has been both a scary and an exciting time for me. I have come to appreciate how much hard work it is and am very grateful for the support and advice given to me by other much more experienced business owners.
Our local store, Midland Stock & Poultry Supplies, became a favourite place for me to visit when delivering coats and it was no surprise to anyone when I purchased the business in 2007.
Running the pet shop alongside Fair Dinkum Dog Coats lead me to focus purely on selling my coats direct to the consumer. I love dealing direct with the customer to get the perfect fit for their dog and a custom product.
In 2010 I was extremely proud to win the Regional Achievers Award: Trade and Career Award. Which lead to the Queen inviting me to Government house on her visit to Australia in 2011.
After the birth of our daughter Monique in 2012 it was a good time to sell Midland Stock & Poultry Supplies and go back to concentrating on Fair Dinkum Dog Coats as I can work around the family and out of hours. Our second beautiful daughter Phoebe was later born in 2014.
I love to keep improving the coats and the business. Those who have been buying the coats for a long time will notice that we now put darts in rear sides of the coat to help them sit more snugly.
Introducing a website to Fair Dinkum Dogs has also enabled my customers that live in remote areas and overseas to purchase product direct online.
My greyhound and whippet coats are quickly becoming known as those that own these breeds of dogs know how hard it is to find a coat to fit. I saw this gap in the market and designed a coat to fit this breeds shape.
Other breeds such as Bassett Hounds, Dachshunds, Pugs, Lurchers, Great Danes etc all appreciate the coat being made to fit their unique shapes.
I can’t help but smile when I come across a dog wearing one of my coats. It is a great feeling.