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Dogrobes

Margaret Reynolds tells us about how HIE Entrepreneurship support has helped her business grow.

A hobby turned career for dog-lover Margaret

Dogrobes was set up in 2004 by Ann Playle, a working dog trainer who came up with the idea of a practical drying coat to solve the problem of wet dogs and muddy shake off. When Ann decided to retire in 2013 her neighbour, Margaret Reynolds, bought over the business.

As the orders have grown, so has Margaret’s hobby and she’s come a long way from her one-woman living room based operation. The successful business now has an HQ in Fochabers and employs two full-time employees who look after operations, sales and marketing, with a part-time member of staff overseeing the finances. Graphic design, accountancy, PR and manufacturing are all outsourced.

As Margaret initially set out for Dogrobes to be a hobby she didn’t have a firm business plan in place but as demand for the product grew, she had to quickly adapt.

Margaret said: “The popularity of the product has made Dogrobes so much bigger than I ever anticipated. I came from a Retail Management and Marketing background, so I was comfortable with the marketing side of the business, but I felt out of my depth when it came to the digital side of things. On top of that, I had no experience in pitching and knew nothing about intellectual property or running your own business, so I had a lot to learn.”

 

I met a lot of people in a similar situation and it was useful to get a different perspective on the issues that I was facing.
Margaret Reynolds, Owner, Dogrobes

To gain the knowledge she needed, Margaret enrolled in HIE’s Entrepreneurship programme in early 2019 taking part in all four courses: Delivering a Digital Strategy, Pitching Skills, Brand Development and Entrepreneurial Sales.

Commenting on the support provided, Margaret said: “We are incredibly lucky in Moray to have the support of HIE, the Entrepreneurship programme was integral in supporting me as my business grew and provided me with the techniques and tools for success.”

Margaret identifies the Pitching Skills Workshop as the game-changer that took her business to the next level. She has since signed two major deals off the back of successful pitches: Orvis, the outdoor specialist retailer is now stocking Dogrobes in flagship stores throughout the UK; whilst IMS, a veterinary wholesaler is supplying them to the vet market across the country. In fact, sales of Dogrobes are up 30% year-on-year.

Margaret added: “HIE’s Entrepreneurship Programme gave me the opportunity to step away from the day-to-day running of the business, allowing me to clear my head and come up with new ideas for how to move the business forward.

“What’s more, I met a lot of people in a similar situation and it was useful to get a different perspective on the issues that I was facing.”

For anyone thinking about signing up to HIE’s Entrepreneurship programme, Margaret has this advice. She said: “Go along and find out more about the programme and if you think it’s right for you don’t even hesitate: just do it. HIE is a resource that we shouldn’t take for granted here in the Highlands and Islands and we must make the most of it.”

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