Before the lockdown was announced I was a dog walker, pet sitter and home boarder. I set up Happy Waggers & Sleepy Whiskers in January 2019 and I loved my job. Once the schools closed, understandably, many of my customers didn’t need me anymore. I was left with a lot of spare time and no income. My business was unfortunately too young to qualify for the 80% scheme and I honestly didn’t know what I was going to do. Losing my small business was not an option; I had worked too hard to build it up.
After a few weeks of feeling very lost a loved one suggested I use my time to start an online pet shop. It was something I’d previously considered but never had the time to actually set up. If I am honest, at that point I was too all over the place to see this path for myself. This was a turning point for me, I had a new focus that would keep me constantly occupied. I’m often working on the shop from the moment I wake up until I fall asleep (or up until Sunday night family zoom).
Once I’d decided I was going to start a shop, I began to research. Research insurance, products, websites, postage, packaging… It was all new to me. I thought it was really important to fully understand the products I was going to sell. I studied chemistry at university and this scientific background was very useful. I discovered that there are no standards for pet toys, many of them especially plastic toys release toxic chemicals. This means they are both harmful for you and your pet. I was stunned. How is this possible? Why aren’t these products being checked? At this point I decided I would only stock safe and healthy products. I check all of the products and suppliers carefully. I’m really excited about the products I stock and will be sharing more details in future blogs. As someone who usually spends most of their day outdoors I am passionate about the environment and I try to stock products that are as green as possible. These ideas are the basis of Eco Pet Parcel, to provide customers with a parcel full of safe and healthy products for their pet which is also reassuringly environmentally friendly.
The shop began. I used my savings (a risky strategy as I now had no income) to buy stock from two suppliers. I spent days getting the website just right, I launched it and I had some sales! All of the hours of work had paid off. But there was more hard work to come and the shop now needed a new name. The shop was originally called the Happy Waggers & Sleepy Whiskers Shop but this was causing too much confusion and was too long for people to remember. It took me a long time to come up with a name that represented my shop and in the end it was so simple – Eco Pet Parcel. I also had to move the website onto a better platform, proud as I was off my original shop website it didn’t look professional and needed an upgrade. As someone who had never created websites, this has been a steep learning curve but I am so happy with the new website, it is easier to navigate and has lots of helpful features (which I will tell you about another time).
I have had some messages from customers who were concerned I was stopping all of my services and just running the shop from now on. Don’t worry I will not be stopping the services side of my business as I would miss all of the Happy Waggers & Sleepy Whiskers too much. I hope that once life ‘returns to normal’ the shop will run alongside my normal services. So far I am very much enjoying running the shop and if I’m honest I think I’ve needed the shop, it has given me a purpose. The best part is receiving photos and videos of your pets enjoying their parcels and reading reviews from happy customers.
Despite all of the struggles I have faced since the lockdown began, I feel incredibly lucky to have been safe at home throughout. I feel luckier still that my friends and family have not caught the virus. I am so grateful to all of the key workers who have continued to work in order to keep us all safe. I’ll write another blog soon. Stay safe everyone.