This article originally appeared here. Urban Coco Magazine interviews HOUNDWORTHY founders Morgan Cummins & Jo Holdaway for the inside track on what motivates them and their exciting dog lifestyle business.
HOUNDWORTHY is a unique dog lifestyle company with a simple mission: Encourage dog lovers to seek out more meaningful things for both themselves and their canine companions. They aim to inspire, enable and equip a new generation of dog owners to chase down more worthwhile experiences. Evolving with the seasons, they offer a progressive mix of premium outerwear, useful accessories, and well-chosen lifestyle goods for the discerning modern dog owner.
TELL US THE STORY BEHIND THE BRAND?
While it may look and feel like one of the most sophisticated dog brands you’ve ever seen, HOUNDWORTHY is actually based on a pretty simple premise – dog people everywhere are part of something special. That’s the idea driving one of the most exciting and interesting pet businesses to burst onto the scene in years. HOUNDWORTHY was founded in 2013 by Morgan Cummins & Jo Holdaway and is a culmination of their combined decade’s worth of experience working for some of the world’s best advertising and design agencies. Conceived while out walking their own four-legged companions, the business champions worthwhile things for people with dogs and delivers it via their beautifully designed websitewww.houndworthy.com.
“We realised that owning a dog is actually one of the truly universal lifestyle pursuits that can be appreciated by dog lovers no matter where they are on this planet. It’s probably the most socially enabling thing you can ever experience. That’s pretty powerful stuff.”
Using their skills behind a lens and a canny eye for sourcing exceptionally stylish, covetable canine gear, they set out to build a company that captures the imagination of the millions of dog owners everywhere. The gorgeous landscapes and often breath-taking natural scenery of England provide the backdrop for a premium dog goods company that is starting to get noticed. Having been featured in magazines such as Elle Decoration, Monocle and Harper’s Bazaar and obviously popular online via the likes of BuzzFeed & Gizmodo, the enthusiastic young brand holds vast global appeal.
“Our customers come from all walks of life. We’ve created collars for leading Hollywood stylists, provided goods for luminaries in the fashion and home décor industries, and everything in between. Orders come in daily from around the world, with happy hound owners discovering a dog brand they can relate to irrespective of where they are. It’s a really nice feeling knowing that you can connect with other dog people who might not even speak the same language, but do speak the same language (dogs!). We love it!”
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST SUCCESS SINCE LAUNCHING THE BUSINESS?
Getting noticed by Elle Decoration within 3 months of launching was pretty cool, and having some of the biggest lifestyle bloggers on the planet take note of what we are doing has been hugely satisfying. Developing our brand from scratch and actually living the lifestyle that we sell is something that we work hard to maintain, as we believe that in order to create something people will truly care about you need to make sure it stays real. You need to not just say you’re authentic; you need to embody it. We’re proving you can stay real and still run a successful commercial enterprise. Attracting attention from dog-loving investors has also been pretty cool too.
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WOULD DO DIFFERENTLY?
Not really. Coming from creative backgrounds, you don’t really develop the hardcore business organizational skills that many entrepreneurs have when they set out. You don’t really realize how important a lot of the “dull” stuff is, until you’re neck-deep in it yourself and have an expanding business to run. HOUNDWORTHY was launched with a conviction and self-belief that we could create something others will love, and with huge scope for growth potential. But passion alone can’t build an empire. You need resources and you need great people around you. If we were to do it again, we’d build up a few more of those before we jumped in with both feet!
HOW DO YOU FEEL YOUR BRAND DIFFERS FROM OTHERS ON THE MARKET?
We genuinely believe we are the most authentic dog lifestyle company around. Everything we sell, say, share and think is done with the sole ambition to enable other hound-appreciating folk to go out and experience more with their dogs. We don’t want people to think of us as merely a dog accessories shop. Our business goal is not to become just that. Instead we want people to come to view us as a trusted voice for the interests of dog owners who appreciate better things. We really do believe HOUNDWORTHY stands for something greater than merely “selling dog stuff” and this is what differentiates us from the rest. Our brand is something you become a part of when you shop with us, and it’s this sense of collective shared experience that we do better than most.
WHAT IS YOUR MOST POPULAR ITEM THAT YOU SELL?
Our own line of HOUNDWORTHY Monogram leather dog collars & leads are incredibly popular. We’ve sent them to customers on every continent. Our traditional British Navy Rope Dog Leads are also pretty popular.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT TO SEE FROM YOU IN THE REST OF 2014?
We are working on developing more of our own label collection, which is something we are asked about regularly. Our current online catalogue spans 150 items including some of the coolest dog toys, jackets, beds and dog walking gear you’ve ever seen. Expect us to continue evolving the HOUNDWORTHY collection and helping discerning dog owners buy better gear. We will also be showcasing our awesome canine finery at selected stylish events, festivals and pop-up locations.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU OFFER TO OTHER PEOPLE THINKING ABOUT LAUNCHING THEIR OWN BUSINESS?
Do a lot of homework as to the opportunity, the idea you’ve got, and really spend a bit of time interrogating whether you yourself have the talent and stamina to deliver it. Find other people who have done what you are seeking to do (or similar) and make friends in high places. Make even more friends in low places. Just make a lot of friends! Talk about your business and believe in it 200%. Enthusiasm and passion really do count and you will attract people who will help you if you send out the right vibes. Be cocky enough to get noticed, but stay genuinely humble when you know it’s time to listen. Don’t bother if you aren’t in it to win it, as they say.
WHERE CAN PEOPLE FIND MORE?
Or just Google HOUNDWORTHY! We are friggin’ everywhere.
Story courtesy of Urban Coco Magazine, originally published July 2014