When Emma Smith set up Ruff and Tumble Dog Walking, she knew looking professional was the way to stand out from the pack
When Emma Smith decided to launch a dog walking business last year one of the first things she did was get someone to design her a logo. “I wanted to be professional,” she explains. “I’ve got five dogs and they’re part of the family. These people [who might employ me as a dog walker], they don’t know who I am, they need to know I’m taking it seriously. I took a number of courses, including dog first aid, got the logo sorted, a website and a Facebook page. The other thing I really wanted was clothing, I wanted to go out in clothes that had my logo and Facebook page on them.”
Initially Emma went to a local shop and ordered some embroidered polos, but after a few washes they shrank and the colour started to fade. She started looking on the internet for another garment decorator in her local area and found Raunds Embroidery. A couple of Emma’s friends had ‘liked’ the Raunds Facebook page, and she was impressed by the pictures that owner Lyn Lazarevic had posted there.
She called Lyn on one of her few free moments – a bank holiday in May this year – and was immediately invited over to Raunds, there and then, to go through the different options. “We went through lots of different things that she had: coats and hoodies, different makes of shirts and different colours,” says Emma. “As my logo has a white background and is orange and a dark grey/black, in my head it had to be on white shirts, but she said of course it doesn’t, you can do what you want. She was brilliant and suggested grey polos for walking in, and a nice blue colour for when I do my meet and greets so I know that’s separate and I’m not going to turn up covered in paw prints!
“One of the things that really stood out for me was I wanted the shirts to be a better quality, and she was wearing one that she’d had for three years – that’s great. Jet black, and it hadn’t faded.”
She ended up settling on the Uneek Classic Poloshirt along with the Zipped Hoodie from Cottonridge, which Lyn says is her bestseller: “The quality is so good and equivalent to Superdry, but without the price tag.”
One of the big issues Emma had last winter was the lack of a warm and truly waterproof coat. “Last year I got absolutely soaked – I bought off the rail. I was cold and miserable.” While Lyn’s bestseller is the Regatta Dover, Emma went for the Regatta Aledo coat instead as she wanted to have a longer length. “I know that I’m not going to get cold in that and it covers the bum, which I wanted as well – I didn’t want a wet bottom!” laughs Emma. The final garment is a Regatta Tyler Bodywarmer, a lightweight, diamond quilt bodywarmer that Lyn says is popular with dog walkers because they are smart yet not too bulky.
All of the garments are embroidered because Emma says she feels it’s a smarter look. She’d noticed when she had her first polos that having embroidery only on the left chest was not particularly effective, mainly because of the awkwardness that goes with staring at a woman’s chest while walking past and trying to make out a website address. The new garments are embroidered on both the back and the front left chest so those walking past can get her details just as easily as those stopping to talk to her. She’s so impressed with the quality of the work from Raunds that she suggested her brother-in-law go there for his workwear.
With increasing demand for dog walkers as single-person households continue to grow – they’re a key market for dog walkers – and longer working hours in the UK also having an effect on demand, decorators would do well to understand what dog walkers need. Emma’s parting advice is to offer a wide variety of garments to cover all the seasons that a dog walker needs to work through. “That’s where Lyn hits the nail on the head, she has such a huge stock of lots of different things.”