Meet Angela, the Founder of Fur the Love of Toys
When we ask our members why they started their business, one of the most common answers is: “being my own boss!” This is at the centre of our latest campaign – the joy of being able to organise your days and having all the decision-making power!
As part of our mission to celebrate those who work for themselves, we love nothing more than to put our members centre-stage. And what better way to do this than on national television with our latest TV advert, ‘Get More Joy Out Of Your Business’? Our new ad campaign features six real-life Tide members. We are thrilled to be introducing you to the stars of our latest campaign! First up is Angela Kitchen, Founder of Fur the Love of Toys.
Hi Angela, great to chat with you! Can you tell us about Fur The Love of Toys?
Fur the Love of Toys is an online pet shop. We make and sell a wide range of pet toys and accessories – all handmade by me! Our product range includes enrichment toys, pet accessories such as bandanas and bows, dog owners apparel and our own designed range of walkwear. We also stock a large range of hypoallergenic treats and training aids. Our ethos is very much to stimulate your pet’s brain and help you to develop a bond with them through play and interaction.
What were you doing before launching your business?
I was a Business Manager in financial crime for a large bank. My rescue dog Harley inspired the transition! I wanted cute accessories and toys for larger dogs and couldn’t find any that I liked on the market so I decided to unleash my creativity and make my own. It all stemmed from there!
That’s quite a big leap between finance and an online pet shop! Were you always creative?
No! I joined a sewing class to learn how to sew then watched lots of tutorials on how to improve my skills. It wasn’t something that I knew I would be good at but once I started I loved it, so it made learning easy!
What does growing Fur the Love of Toys look like?
Being a handmade artisan business, it probably looks slightly different to what some would expect. For me it’s about creating a community of like-minded pet owners and catering to their needs. Growth for me is not about being stocked in a large well known pet store but about meeting the needs of my target customers. I want to provide a service and products that keeps them coming back and wanting to share what I do with family and friends!
How did you manage to create that tight community of loyal customers?
Mainly through Instagram and dog shows like Crufts. I met people who loved my products and that created a group of very supportive women. They gave me great feedback and ideas and now they spend their own time helping and supporting my business through a common interest and love of my products! It’s also a safe place for people to ask questions and advice on being a dog owner so it’s not just about my business anymore. I love that people feel comfortable in that environment.
Can you tell us more about your products? What’s your favourite one?
That’s a tough one! It would have to be my reactive dog range which includes warning bandanas and lead covers. Having a reactive dog, which in my opinion, is one that becomes overstimulated and triggered by external factors, can be really hard going. Knowing that I am making products that eases that for dogs and owners and make their life more enjoyable is amazing.
In our recent Women In Business survey, some of our female members said they were struggling with self-confidence when starting – do you have any advice for aspiring female business owners?
Dip your toe in, lean on friends and family for honest feedback. Treat all feedback as good feedback and see it as an opportunity to improve and learn. Ask questions and learn from other business owners. You can do it!
Why did you decide to choose Tide as your business account?
Tide offers a small business like me everything that I need – easy account opening process, excellent online support and help as well as an accounting solution that suits my needs.
What Tide feature do you use the most?
I use the receipt importer daily as well as the simple and easy categorisation process. I also love the online chat help and support which means I don’t have to spend time on the phone. I’m excited to start using the accounting feature for this year’s accounts too! Watch this space!
What’s the biggest challenge for your business at the moment?
The pet industry is very crowded, particularly since COVID, so it can be hard to get your name out there and be seen – and similarly to most small businesses I would imagine, it’s the current financial crisis. Unfortunately, with rising prices, people just don’t always have the disposable income to buy “luxury” products. It’s a challenge I’m working through, focusing on core products that are a necessity rather than a “nice to have”. I am also using key events for marketing such as the upcoming King’s Coronation and staying on trend. Where possible, I run sales and have end of line prices to make items affordable to the everyday consumer.
One last question before you go! What’s your advice for people looking to start a small business but that need to develop a new skill?
Pick something you enjoy! Try a few things out and choose the one you enjoy most. Find a beginners class and then hone your skill using some of the amazing resources available on YouTube and TikTok – the best way to learn is by doing!