Hello, nice to meet you. I am Verna, the owner and creator of PuppyLove. I have 2 jobs, a Day job and a Night job. In the day, I am a fashion designer and stylist. I work with a team of hairstylist and makeup artists to style models and celebrities for various media jobs like magazines, TV programs, fashion shows and print advertisements etc. As for my night job, I sew doggy accessories and clothes in the comfort of my bedroom. By designing them from scratch, I aim to create unique and comfortable products for all dogs! Pinky, my toy poodle, was the main reason why I started PuppyLove. She came into my life in August 2011 at 2 months old and brought so much fun and laughter to my family and I. At that time, it was difficult to find nice and unique clothes and accessories for dogs. It also felt like a calling since I studied fashion design at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. Putting my skills into good use, I decided to design and sew dog clothes myself. Slowly, my friends started to ask me to make customized clothes for their dogs. Requests started to build up and from there, I was encouraged to start PuppyLove. PuppyLove started selling on Instagram from 2011 to 2016. In late 2016, I decided to take the e-commerce route to reach out to more dog lovers in Singapore and overseas. Now, pet lovers can now shop online at www.puppylove.sg anytime and anywhere.
2. What makes PuppyLove different from other dog accessory stores?
PuppyLove accessories and clothes are designed and all sewn by myself from scratch. My products are not mass produced, they are all made-to-order one by one. I think what sets PuppyLove different from others is the quality of my products, which I take pride in sewing every single piece of it. Another thing what makes PuppyLove stand out from others is that I offer more personalized services to my customers. Pawrents are able to select the designs and fabrics they like, which makes me a dog tailor and dog fashion stylist. I also accept orders from customers to make special requests like cosplay costumes, harness, pee manner band which PuppyLove does not sell in our online stores. This is a service that sets PuppyLove apart from others which I don’t think many stores offer.
3. Tell us more about your products!
PuppyLove products started with bandana and fusion cheongsam dress for dogs. After 7 years, my product range has expanded much. I am constantly expanding to meet customer’s needs and demands. PuppyLove accessories range now consists of 3Bs (Bandana/ Bib/ Bow), Cape Collar and Princess Collar. As for PuppyLove clothes, some examples include Shirts, Vest, Dress and Cheongsam Dress. 70% of PuppyLove products are sold under the PuppyLove brand with our labels. The remaining are specially curated toys, accessories and clothes that have been sourced and imported in! This allows my customers to enjoy more shopping choices.
4. Are the fabrics sourced or designed from scratch?
Fabrics and trimmings to make PuppyLove products are either sourced locally or overseas whenever I travel. I love to buy fabrics from Japan and Thailand which cannot be found in Singapore. In recent years, I have bought fabrics and trimmings from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea.
5. What are your best-selling products?
My No.1 top selling product would be Bandana. The design of my bandana is different from what other brands or stores are selling in Singapore. The signature look of PuppyLove bandana is using 2 different fabrics for the straps and triangle part of the bandana. Besides the bandana, my best-selling product would be the fusion cheongsam dress during CNY. I personally do not like the traditional brocade cheongsam for pets. This has inspired me to design the fusion cheongsam that uses comfortable cotton instead, which has been well received by my customers.
6. What is your personal favourite collection so far?
My personal favourite collection would have to be the recent CNY 2018 Collection. As you know, it is the Year of the Dog this year! This means there were many cute dog prints fabrics and I went crazy designing many mini collections of accessories. In total, there were 12 mini collections of accessories and 10 designs of shirts and cheongsam dresses. This was my biggest collection to date, and I am very satisfied with it.
7. Since you have been in the pet industry, how have your products evolved?
Being in this business for nearly 8 years, my products has definitely evolved. For example, the bandana has been resized twice to better suit all dog breeds. To meet the demands of customers who want unique products, I am constantly creating new designs of accessories. Packaging is also important and has gone through several revamps over the years. The current packaging is personalized. On every handmade product, PuppyLove logo will be sewn to make them look more exquisite.
8. What is PuppyLove's biggest achievement so far?
The biggest achievement or PuppyLove would be the SG50 collection in 2015! To celebrate the big milestone in Singapore history, I designed a special edition SG50 bandana in 5 red and white fabric prints. I also added an I Love SG iron-on badge on the bandana to let furkids feel proud to be an SG furkid and to feel like its part of the SG50 celebrations. The SG50 bandana was very well received and I sold over 350 pieces! The most satisfying part about this is seeing so many photos of dogs and cats wearing the SG50 bandanas. Until now, I still feel proud that I have designed something for the furkids to be a part of our nation’s big birthday.
9. What is the most difficult part of running this business?
I think in any kind of business, the challenging part is to attract customers and retaining customers. I am constantly cracking my brains to design new products in order to attract customers, to retain their loyalty to PuppyLove and to have an edge over my competitors. Another difficulty faced is people copying your ideas, designs and products. This is inevitable in every business. I always remind myself that imitation is the highest form of flattery - PuppyLove must be successful that others are copying!
10. Any stories to share that motivates you to continue with this business?
I believe starting a business is easy but running the business and keeping it going is not an easy task. Although sales figures are what drives a business going, I personally get very happy and excited whenever I see furkids wearing PuppyLove products. I really appreciate my customers sending me photos of their furkids in PuppyLove or when they tag PuppyLove in their social media posts. Its this satisfaction of seeing my designs that I have created on furkids that gives me the drive to keep going. Throughout my years of running this business, positive feedback from customers also motivates me to keep doing better and keep producing good products for furkids.
11. What can we expect from PuppyLove in the future?
In the pipeline this year, I will be launching another personalising service to my customers. It's vinyl iron-on on bandanas of furkids names. PuppyLove currently has embroidery personalising service on our accessories like bandanas and cape collars. In the future, PuppyLove would love to be able to retailed overseas in pet stores and to expand my products line to include more interesting products for furkids. Some examples could be pillows, blankets, bags etc.
12. Any advice for anyone who intends to start a business in the pet industry?
I personally feel that the pet industry in Singapore is getting bigger and there is room for more people to start a pet-related business. My advice to anyone who intends to start a business in the pet industry is to be original, to have good quality products and to provide good sale services. Do not just copy what other brands or what other people are selling. To me, I think it is good to know what your competitors are offering, but be creative to find your own niche with your products.