Catherine Parr runs Collared – a shop specialising in funky accessories and must-have fashion items for pets. Here she tells the Times why she turned her love of treating animals into a successful company
How long have you been running your business?
We started Collared six years ago.
What was the inspiration behind it?
Our hotel (The White Rock in Hastings) is dog friendly and we realised just how many people had and loved pets. We also saw the potential of the premises that is now Collared in Hastings and realised it would make a lovely shop for something fun as it has two great windows and a seafront location.
How many shops do you have?
We have three now: Hastings, Tunbridge Wells and most recently one in Canterbury. It’s a lovely space that’s next door to the Cathedral’s gift shop on Burgate. All three of our shops are in really interesting, historic locations and buildings.
Which came first – the shop in Hastings or Tunbridge Wells?
We launched Hastings first.
Why did you decide to open a shop in Tunbridge Wells?
We think Collared is a really good brand and Tunbridge Wells was an ideal spot as it’s not too far away from Hastings and we absolutely love The Pantiles.
Who inspires your buys? Is it the animals or the funky, covetable designs?
I’ve got to say both. We think that people are getting bored of the ‘once a lifetime’ kind of purchase for their pets. People either want collars, leads or beds that work with their personal style or current trends which is why we sell a wide variety of accessories for all types. We also stock gifts, treats and toys – all the things that are the nicer side of pet ownership.
What else inspires you when it comes to picking out products and accessories for the shops?
We only buy things that we really like. We are always looking for new things and items that other shops don’t have. We go to a huge trade show in Nuremberg every other year and buy from all over the world as well as sourcing loads of really great UK made products as well. We buy from both big and very small suppliers to give real variety.
Do you have plans to open any other stores?
I’d love to open more shops but our next plan is to go online – so many people ask us so watch this space!
Do you have a favourite animal? If so, which one is it?
My favourite animals are my two standard poodles – Rocky & Barney – and my tabby cat Frankie, who’s in charge! Everyone thinks that their pets are the most special ones and that no one else can understand just how much you love them and I’m no different.
How do you like working in The Pantiles and why?
I just love it, it’s so special. I love the history of shopping and The Pantiles is just so evocative of years gone by. I really don’t think that enough people outside the town appreciate just how fantastic it is.
What do you think is the success to trading in Tunbridge Wells?
It’s the combination of shopping and history that residents and tourists alike find so special.
What’s next in the pipeline for you?
As well as going online with Collared later this year, we are opening a new café bar in Hastings as part of St Mary in the Castle, which is a really interesting former church and now a venue in Hastings. These two projects will certainly keep me busy this year.
Collared is located at 9 The Pantiles, Tunbridge Wells TN2 5TD