When was the last time you drank out of the cup you use to scoop the dry food into your pet’s food bowl? I imagine the answer to that is never.
Pet owners have kept their petware and tableware separate for years. Even after it has been washed most people don’t feel comfortable with the idea of using that utensil again. However if you’re tired of using your tableware to serve your pets, you’re not alone.
Belinda Jennings wanted a solution. Whenever she reached the bottom of the dog food can the spoon was simply not long enough to scrape out the remaining bits. Just trying to get it all out would result in cut hands for her and her partner. Out of pure necessity, with a little prodding from her friends, Belinda has designed and launched her own line of kitchenware for pets, Muttlery & Catlery.
Tell us a little about Muttlery & Catlery and what inspired your business.
My partner and I had both suffered cuts to our hands after trying to reach into the bottom of the dog food tin to get the last bits. I had also put some tape around the top of one spoon to identify it as the ‘dogs spoon’ so that we didn’t eat our cereal with it. I told friends at dinner one night that there should be a pet spoon and they rang me the next day to tell me they thought it was a great idea and I should make one.
At this time, how many different petware products do you have?
I have two different sized spoons, available in two styles, black paw prints or silver paw prints, and a dry food measuring cup, also available in black or silver paw prints.
What separates you from the competition?
There is not much available in the way of kitchenware for serving pet food. A cheap plastic spoon that is shorter than a standard tablespoon is available in most supermarkets but they are ugly and break and don’t solve the problem of reaching into the bottom of the tin. My products are specifically designed for serving pet food, made in high quality stainless steel that will last a lifetime. And they are beautiful so also work as a gift item.
Which product seems to be the favorite among your customers?
The standard spoon in black paw prints.
How long did it take for you to build your business from idea to product design, then launch?
It took me two years to research, design and luanch. At the time I started I was getting married, having my second child and working part-time as a teacher. And since I taught myself all aspects of the business rather than outsourcing, for example I designed and created the website, lodged my own intellectual property documents etc, it took longer than if I had devoted myself to just the business.
Since your business launched over 3 years ago, in what ways has Muttlery & Catlery evolved/grown?
Muttlery and catlery was launched with great success and media coverage in national and state newspapers. Since then the product has been launched in the United States and is soon to be made available to the UK.
Can we expect any new products from you in the near future?
Yes. There are a few ideas in the pipeline.
Did you have any previous experience that helped you when launching your business?
As a media teacher I had some skills with digital imaging and web design software that helped with the branding aspects. Everything else, like writing a press release, finding a manufacturer, importing goods, and etc. I learned by googling and reading.
What are some of the lessons your business has taught you?
A marketing plan is a must. Good organization and systems should be set up from the beginning.
Do you have any tips or tricks that you’d like to offer fellow entrepreneurs that are just getting started?
Setting up the business is relatively easy compared to getting your business known. Be prepared for it to take time and try to see each challenge as a positive learning experience. Network and share your experiences with others.