Every business has its own, unique story.
And who can resist an animal story? Especially when the stars are Gemma and Ollie, the two adorable fur babies that inspired mum, Genevieve, to start her business for pampered pets, Gemma and Ollie.
Gemma and Ollie love fashion and enjoy a fun and pampered lifestyle. They were preoccupied with product testing at the time of the interview, so we spoke with Genevieve Hodson about her journey from pampering pet mum to burgeoning business owner.
It’s pretty obvious, but I’ll ask it anyway. How did you come up with the idea for your business?
My fur babies, Gemma and Ollie – two Chihuahua X Fox Terriers – are the inspiration behind my business. I am passionate about finding good quality products for them and this also led me to create my own Aromatherapy Paw Balm. Gemma’s paws were getting rough from long walks and needed a soothing balm to protect her paw pads. Ollie suffers from epilepsy and anxiety and lavender helps calm him which is why I added the lavender into my Paw Balm. All the items I stock are products my own fur babies would use or love.
Gemma and Ollie also play a big part in deciding what products we stock. All our products have their paw print of approval.
What type of products do you offer?
Gifts for pampered fur babies that cover the following areas – Health & Wellness, Fun & Games, Clothing & Accessories, Art & Pawtraits as well as gifts for dog lovers.
What was your mission at the outset and what were your biggest challenges?
Our mission was to offer unique boutique gifts for dog lovers and pampered fur babies that embodied health and wellness, fashion and fun.
Our biggest challenges were trying to build relationships with the designers and artists of the handmade items I stock and coming up with an agreement that benefits both parties. It’s a bit more challenging than other wholesale items because it is difficult to put a value on boutique handmade items. I value and appreciate the creativity and work that goes into each handmade product and it’s not easy to balance that with profit margins and mark ups.
What are your biggest challenges at the moment?
I’m currently spending most of my time on promotion and getting the name Gemma & Ollie out there. It’s also hard to find a balance between making the most of every marketing opportunity while avoiding coming across as pushy or annoying with constant self-promotion.
What are your responsibilities as the business owner?
Along with the freedom in decision making, being the sole owner of a business also comes with all the responsibilities from customer service, managing the website, social media, marketing, admin to packing and posting the orders out. While the other two employees are brilliant at product testing and modelling for our ad campaigns, Gemma and Ollie are not able to go to the post office for me yet!
If you had one piece of advice for someone just starting out, what would it be?
It’s OK to make mistakes along the way and also (I know you said one…) the roller coaster of emotions: from being elated as you start to see some returns on your hard work, to feeling like you’ve just made the biggest mistake in starting this business, and back again to elation. It’s all part of the journey.
How many employees do you have (or is it just you)?
Just me and my two Product Testers and Models.
How do you advertise your business and what works best for you?
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google, Word of Mouth. I tend to get the most engagement from Instagram and Facebook. Most of my sales have also been conversions from here. I don’t really get any engagement on Twitter at all.
What did you learn from the worst boss you ever had?
Not to let your ego make business decisions.
And last, but certainly not least, what’s your favorite vacation spot?
Anywhere by the beach.