I love it when people are inspired to create something because they just can’t find what they need already out there. This is exactly what Dominic did when he started The Princes paws. Read more of his story in the weeks Creative Corner Interview.
1. Introduce yourself.
Hi I’m Dominic, I am 24, from Greater Manchester and I live with my 4 dogs. I work Full time as a teaching assistant and fit my business in every free time I get in the hopes of one day being able to “quit my day job”. My friends and family are very supportive, especially my partner who just loves everything I make. I discovered my love of sewing in college where I took a textiles course and up until a few years ago I hadn’t touched a sewing machine again since.
2. Tell us a bit about The Prince’s paws.
I have two very big passions in my life and they are, sewing and my dogs. So one day I decided to combine the two. Now before I did this I spent hours and lots of money trying to find clothing to keep my youngest two dogs warm as they are both Chihuahuas and they struggle to regulate their own body temperature, even in mild conditions and in the UK that seems to be most of the time. The items I bought were exceptionally made but I struggled with sizing, they either weren’t as advertised or just a bad fit.
I spoke to some other dog owners to see if it was just me and to my surprise that was surprisingly common. I started out small and made a few bandanas and bowties to get me back into my sewing and discovered my love for it all over again and went on to making coats for my dogs and the response I got was overwhelming, I went on to making coats and other things for friends and family and they loved the fit so I decided to just go for it. Eventually our goal is to stock our store with completely bespoke items made from up-cycled fabrics such as t-shirts, jumpers and anything I can get my hands on. If we don’t look after the world we live in, where are our dogs going to explore?
3. What made you start The Prince’s paws?
As I said earlier, August is the biggest inspiration for my business, he is all over the website and he’s even my logo. Seeing him being able to be a “normal” dog and enjoy the cold days like other dogs gives me the biggest rush I’ve ever felt, and seeing customers who’s dogs are comfortable and happy wearing my items, is amazing too! My other push to do this was, although I love my day job, my passion lies with sewing. I have always wanted to pursue sewing in some way and being able to be my own boss was a big plus for me!
4. Did you have any formal training or are you self-taught?
I learnt the basics of sewing in college but the rest I have learnt through my grandma, she is a very talented seamstress and many years ago she used to have her own clothing line. I’m still learning new things every day about sewing and techniques and my work is constantly improving.
5. Explain your creative process.
Usually with custom orders, I start by getting the requirements of the customer. This is usually what they are looking for, sometimes the customer sends me pictures of something they have seen else where but want to change some things. After that its then onto the fabrics it will be made from, design of the fabric, what embellishments they want etc.
After that I ask the customer the measurements of their dog and I give lots of support in this area, this is a crucial stage as I aim to create items that are made to measure. If the fabric design is something I cant find from a shop I either use a website called “spoonflower” to order the fabric but this does take a while or I hand print it myself, depending on the colours and pattern this can also take a while. Throughout the stages of designing and making I send photos of the progress of items to get feed back and to mainly show the customer the process of the items. I think it helps to give my customers and I, a deeper relationship.
Once the item is complete I will take pictures in my makeshift photography studio for my website and social media and wrap the item up and ship it off. I’m very passionate about what I do and I like my customers to be able to see that.
6. Describe your typical day.
My typical day starts off with me getting ready for the start of my day job around 8. I work hard until around half 3 and then wiz home to get working on my next project, Depending on what I have to do, its either working behind the scenes on the website or sewing together a customers order. I usually work until 10pm when its shower and wind down time. Ready to do it all over again the next day.
7. What’s your biggest seller?
My biggest sellers are my bowties. They come in various patterns and some are made from up-cycled fabrics making them impossible to get anywhere else and no two bowties are the same.
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8. What have been the high and low points of running The Prince’s paws?
For me the high points of running my own business is the feeling you get when your customer is happy with your products, after all the hard work and care you put into an item, its very fulfilling. I’d say the low-point for me at the minute is having to work along side it, its very exhausting to fit both a full time job and your business in but being so passionate about it means its very easy to find the time, I’m just rubbish at time management but I’m improving
9. What would be your top tips for running your own creative business?
My biggest tip for running your own creative business is only make something you would use yourself. I would never make something for my store if I wouldn’t use it myself with my dogs. ALL of my items I have had to test first with my dogs and family friends dogs. If I didn’t think something would work for mine, I wouldn’t sell it. To really sell something, you have to love what ever it is you sell, I hope that makes sense.
10. What are your aspirations for The Princes paws?
My aspirations for my business are to;
– be my own boss
– make items from completely sustainable fabrics or up-cycled fabrics
– be completely happy with my career.