Brand Spotlight: The Dog and I
I am very excited to introduce you to The Dog and I, our newest addition to the Scruffy Little Terrier family. The Dog and I make 100% natural dog grooming products, including award-winning dog soaps, balms and canine cologne, all handmade in Dorset.
I was first introduced to The Dog and I products, via a dog small business Facebook Group that I am, in over two years ago (I wrote a blog post about them back then). In fact, I have ‘met’ some wonderful small dog businesses in this group. There are some amazing women (and men, but it’s mostly women) making and creating some original high-quality dog products.
The Dog and I was created by Keri, when she discovered, as a dog groomer, that there is no legislation around dog shampoos and other skincare products at all. She started researching about dog grooming products and along with becoming more aware of being eco-friendly, sustainable and chemical-free and so, The Dog and I was born.
Keri is passionate about natural products and so am I. This is why I wanted to bring The Dog and I to you, because I believe that you want the best for your dogs too. Here’s a conversation we had, when I asked Keri to tell me more about The Dog and I.
A Conversation with Keri, Owner of The Dog and I
Tell Us A Bit About You, Keri
I have spent most of my working life employed within the public sector and still am, albeit on a part time basis. Around 6 years ago I retrained as a dog groomer to enable me to work part time at home and offer more flexibility around family life. It was whilst I was grooming that I realised just how many groomers have skin problems as a result of the constant bathing of their clients dogs.
I researched the subject further and quickly realised that the dog grooming and skincare products industry is, in fact, unregulated meaning that, amongst other things, there is no requirement to list the ingredients. Many of the cheaper products, in particular, are likely to contain harsh detergents some of which you will also find in floor cleaners for example.
Fast forward a few months and The Dog and I was born, home of natural, luxury dog grooming and skincare products formulated from plant-based ingredients.
What was your plan for the business at the beginning and has it changed?
Oh, it has changed so much – as businesses often do! My original plan was to create a one stop shop with gifts and products for dogs and eventually humans. I was selling dog blankets, bandanas etc along side the grooming products but I quickly realised I needed to narrow down my niche.
It was confusing for my customers, they did not know exactly what I was about and that my expertise lay within the dog bathing and skincare side, it was a natural progression from there.
I was always very keen to offer eco and plastic-free alternatives and much of the early days were spent researching the soap making industry, learning the process and formulating the perfect soap for dogs.
What do you attribute your success to?
Oh gosh. I would like to say skill but I honestly believe there was an element of luck, right time, right product.
I am quite tenacious, I work very hard and do not give up easily which probably helps. I was also incredibly fortunate to be introduced to a group of other women who own the most amazing dog businesses and having their support along the way has been invaluable.
I also recognised the need to wholesale my products to get them in front of a wider audience and that really has helped the business grow to what it is today. Around 70% of my sales are to shops, online suppliers and boutiques etc, they really are my shop window. I could not have done what I have without them.
What is unique about The Dog and I?
My niche and USP is without a doubt my 100% coconut oil dog soap.
I genuinely believe it to be the best dog soap bar out there, perfect for the job in every way and the feedback I receive is just incredible. That is the one product that makes my business unique and generally leads on to customers buying or stocking everything else.
All the products are lovely, don’t get me wrong, but no-one makes soap for dogs like I do 😉
What are your plans for the future?
I don’t have grand plans to expand The Dog and I if I am honest, I certainly don’t have my eyes set on a factory set up. A big part of my business style is the personal touch and I know my customers really do appreciate that.
However, I do still want the whole ‘soap for dogs’ message to spread and last year I started a second business called The Soap Coach teaching others to make soap.
I am a bit of a soap nerd and I am on a mission to create a nation of soap makers. So I teach the process in a number of ways, face to face workshops, an online video course and an eBook. This is the area of business I will look to grow and I am so keen to see everyone making dog soap that I even give away my award-winning dog soap recipe in all of those options.
I also teach students how to make human soap – the process is the same it is just the recipe that differs.
Can you remember the first time you thought ‘Wow’ about your business?
Oh yes – when I won 2 awards in October 2018, for Best Dog Skincare product for my soap, and Best for Canine Grooming Skincare Products Southwest – both from the Animal Health and Wellness Awards. It was just so lovely receiving some recognition for all my hard work.
What do you do to relax?
I am not good at relaxing to be honest. Because I juggle my day job and the 2 businesses there is not a lot of free time and I get bored easily anyway😂
We still have 2 teenagers at home too, so normal family commitments also fill my day. I do love going out for a dog walk however and I have recently started running – I have to confess however that both of those are often accompanied by a business-orientated podcast in my earbuds.
Is community and sustainability something that is important to The Dog and I?
Yes absolutely, I take care to buy my raw materials from other UK businesses and also looked in to their ethics within this area when I first started looking for suppliers.
As a very small business, it is hard to do as much as I would like, for example in an ideal world I would love to supply my shampoo in bottles formulated from plant starches. The science is there for that but it just is not available from the wholesalers yet. I hope it will be in time. But in the meantime, I really work hard to encourage others to look at the more eco-friendly alternatives, such as using a bar of soap for example.
What’s the best bit about The Dog and I? Is there anything you would change, if you could?
Definitely getting such lovely feedback and messages from my customers. Every week without fail. It really does make my day, my week and my month.
I honestly would not change anything about it. The business keeps me very busy but it has been such a rewarding journey. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have such a loyal customer base on both the retail and wholesale side.
I know that the products really do help so many people and dogs. Most of all, I hope that I have saved thousands of plastic bottles ever being created with the soap and that I will continue to have an impact in that small way.
The Dog and Iand Scruffy Little Terrier
You can find The Dog and I natural dog grooming products on our website, under ‘For Dogs’. We are sure you will find your new favourite grooming products for your dog.
We hope you agree that The Dog and I is a great addition to Scruffy Little Terrier. I am very proud to be stockists for The Dog and I natural dog grooming products, which one will be your favourite product?
the Scruffy Little Terrier Shop!
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