Our latest Meet The Maker is Sophie from Nzuri Sana. Sophie represents the women of the Masaai Mara tribe who make every one of these beautiful collars by hand.
They use traditional weaving methods to hand stitch each bead onto the leather collar. Each collar takes a whole day to make and with each purchase you are giving back to these beautiful women in East Africa.
How did you start Nzuri Sana Dogs?
In 2019, before Covid took over, I managed to go to Crufts Dog Show where I purchased a beautiful beaded collar for my Dog, Winston. Since then, whenever I took Winston on walks, he started receiving so many compliments. Eventually, when we went into the first lockdown, I was furloughed which gave me time to set up my little “Side Hustle” Nzuri Sana Dogs. I thought about how much attention Winston had been getting because of his new collar, so started looking into producers in Africa who could help me produce something similar. People had told me that they were looking for collars like Winston’s but had not been able to find any, so I saw a potential gap in the market. My Fiancé is originally from Zambia and lived in Cape Town and I have subsequently visited Africa many times and have fallen in love with the continent, hence the African connection.
Tell us about your dog.
Winston is a King Charles Cavalier, he is 1 and a half years old and is absolutely adorable! He enjoys modelling for the Instagram account which is a great help! We are lucky to live in the countryside so he gets to go on fantastic walks which he loves. Having a dog during these challenging times has been a real boost. Not only is he so loving and good for a cuddle whenever I am feeling a bit down, but it is so great to have motivation to get outside for fresh air and exercise when we have been stuck at home.
How do you come up with new designs??
I work together with a producer in Nairobi who sends me new designs on a regular basis and I choose the ones that I think will appeal to the UK market. Our most popular designs have been the less bright but more neutral earth colours which are beautiful.
How has the last 12 months affected Nzuri Sana Dogs?
The last 12 months have actually been great for Nzuri Sana Dogs! I started the business in the midst of a pandemic and it has really taken off. The fact that many people have been buying dogs and puppies during the lockdown has certainly meant an increase in interest. Also, the fact that we are an online business and ship anywhere in the UK and worldwide means we can continue as normal during this time.
What are your plans for next 12 months?
I would love to expand the products that we sell. At the moment we are just selling leads and collars, but I would like to look at creating dog beds, blankets, harnesses and bags. I would love to start getting out there and meeting customers at various events once restrictions allow as that has been something that has been missing this year.
Tell us more about supporting the Masaai women.
This is definitely a key part of Nzuri Sana Dogs and I really try to draw emphasis on the story of the Masaai women. I feel privileged to work together with these fantastic women whose skill has been passed on from generation to generation and has enabled them to restore their homeland through the selling of their beaded designs. Aside from the salaries they receive, a significant proportion of profits go back to the women directly so that they may continue their craft and support their communities. In purchasing our collars, you are supporting this exceptional workforce.
Which other pet businesses do you admire?
I love having a look at so many different creative business I see online and on Instagram. I really love a company called “Harris & Hound” who specialise in Harris Tweed dog treat bags. I have a personal connection to Scotland and love Harris Tweed and think it is so creative what they have done.
I also really admire “Happy Hound Accessories” who I follow on Instagram. They make handmade dog collars, harnesses and bandanas. I was amazed at how quickly it took off and the following they are receiving, from a very straightforward idea and a sewing machine. That is so inspiring.
How do you see the future for Independent UK pet businesses?
I think the future looks very bright for independent pet businesses. There are so many creative people out there with so many new ideas which are being discovered all the time. I think we are in a time where we love our four legged pals more than ever and with so many new dog owners, the market is expanding even more.