HOW IT ALL WENT SO WRONG FOR US AND THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL.
As a lot of our new SNUGBUMS superstars and fans may be aware, our very exciting launch party was set for 4/11/2020.... it is now 27/09/2021...and we STILL haven't managed to go ahead with our march on the world of luxury, fluffy, extremely instagramable pet products. whilst I can assure you, that the new release date is IMMINENT, I though I would take a moment to explain our haphazard, frustrating journey so far.
Mid June 2020 - The very beginning.
Some time around mid June, when the reality of COVID-19 was really sinking in, and I knew that my previous business (being in millinery and bridal, for all of those canceled events) was not going to survive the year, I decided to put a new plan in place.
It came as no surprise to everyone who knows me that I decided to em'bark' (sorry/not sorry) on pet based products due to our 2 overly pampered pooches being the centre of our world. SNUGBUMS started to emerge.
I wanted to inject a bit of sass into the standard boring pet beds we see in the shops. We put so much effort into making our homes look beautiful, why stop at out own furniture when our furry friends can also be included? At first I focused mainly on faux furs because my dogs are obsessed with anything fluffy, but then I started falling in love with all sorts of fabrics and patterns. It has become a bit of an addiction now.
Mid August 2020 - The first mistake.
I desperately wanted all of our SNUGBUMS to be made in the UK however, on such a tight budget I didn't believe this would be possible just yet. having taken advice from various successors in the area, I placed an order with a company on Alibaba for 200 faux fur pet beds that had been designed and samples approved by myself. I can't even begin to explain how terrifying/exciting placing that first order was at the time. The samples had all arrived, been tweaked and were looking great. What could possibly go wrong right? so I started sharing on social media. I got to know so many amazing people with beautiful animals online, it was so much fun. The best bit was that pets and pet parents loved the beds as much as I did, it was all getting very real and very exciting. The order was due to be delivered mid October and I had a lot of work to do to get ready for the November 4th launch party.
Mid October 2020 - No products.
the products ETA came and went....the launch party came and went....I started to get very nervous. The Manufacturers in china kept insisting they would be here soon. Unfortunately Felixstowe port was total gridlock at this time due to COVID and Brexit panic buying. Contacting anyone to help me track down the consignment was near impossible and whenever I did get through to anyone they were less than helpful. I had really hoped to have the beds available at Christmas as they would have made the ideal Christmas gift for pet lovers. Christmas came and went.
Mid January 2021 - New Year / New Products
At this point I had contacted every single related and none related email address and phone number I could find and cried down the phone to anyone who would listen (I was also pregnant). Not many people listened. The manufacturer in china had given up on the whole situation and refused to pass on my details to any companies so I could carry out my own investigation. They had my money and its not like I can go and get it back, so why would they waste more time on this? By the time I received the documentation stating "clearance not granted", the month time limit had passed and I could no longer contest the decision. We are still not entirely sure why clearance wasn't granted, the paperwork suggested some issue with the documents and a dodgy importers..... and then we had some more crying....
Once I had come to terms with 8 months of hard work and no pay rendered totally useless, I started work on getting my money back and having a fresh new start. I had abandoned my social media pages and caused confusion amongst our new fans and I am so sorry for that. I really didn't know what to post anymore. I needed to fix it. The plan had always been to have the products manufactured in the uk in the long run, it just hadn't been a feasible start up option finance wise. Or so I thought.
After more phone calls, more emails, more tears, it became apparent that getting the money back might not be a possibility after all. This was extremely problematic for my family and personal life as we had paid for the order with various loans and our financial situation was crippling.
Having invested so much time, energy and money into the business so far, giving up just wasn't an option. Not to mention I am quite stubborn and I really didn't want to "fail". I emailed all of the manufacturers I could find in the uk (turns out they are really hard to find). The response was limited, but eventually I did get some positive results. It became apparent quite quickly that the products and business had now developed into a totally different ball game.
June 2021 - One last push
Between mid May and June I was heavily pregnant with my second child, SNUGBUMS was also very nearly ready to launch. Timing could have been a little better. I chose a variety of different fabrics for the beds (it was so hard restraining myself, I wanted one in every colour). The samples arrived and all looked amazing. I however, was not. The last month of pregnancy was really hard for me, I was exhausted and various medical conditions left me unable to move around or even get out of bed some days. My mental health also took a bit of a battering. I put the business on hold for a little while whilst we all recovered. On June 8th our very own little superstar was born. Baby Reggie has settled into the familly well, he's absolutely perfect. Órla, our eldest, loves him to bits and has taken so well to being a big sister.
Its been over a year now of extremely hard work, lots of ups and downs and major lessons learnt. whilst financially I wish I hadn't had such a terrible start to the business, I am also thankful for the experience. It has taught me so much more than I thought I needed to know and I feel confident and more prepared than ever to finally launch SNUGBUMS.