Making bespoke collars, harnesses, bandanas, bow-ties, and dog coats, Wiff Waff are the perfect place for pampering your pups...
Wiff Waff Designs is arguably one of Nottingham’s quirkiest shops - a high-end, doggy-centric pet clothing boutique you might expect to find in a bougie middle class market town, where there are at least two dogs for every human. But they’ve become a fixture of Sneinton Market since setting up five years ago, as have their dogs.
Not heard of them? Well, they sell bespoke, beautiful doggy (and cat) collars, harnesses, bandanas, bow-ties, and dog coats out of brilliantly resplendent fabrics, all hand-made in-house, as well as some delicious natural doggo delights. Just down the road from LeftLion’s office, I must admit it was Jackapoo (a Jack Russell and Chihuaha cross) Zack’s name I got to know before his human and resident designer Jasper, and Zack regularly pipes up and demands attention when I walk past.
As they’re also neighbours of ours, this proper chat with owner Georgie Thornton seems well overdue. As she explains, she set up eight years ago, at first as an online business, because “I had got a Westie, and being a white dog, I wanted collars and leads that were vibrant, colour-wise. So I made my own. Then walking in the park people would come along and chat, as dog owners do, and they'd say, ‘Oh, I really like that. Where did you get it?’ And when I told them I’d made it myself, they asked me to make them one.”
Now they employ a designer and two (sewing) machinists who work from home, with marketing assistance from Georgie’s daughter, and support from (allegedly) retired husband Bruce. My favourite fact is that they have a well-developed dossier of doggy measurements, so regular customers can spot a new fabric and place an order that will be perfectly made to fit their pooch. It’s that sort of service and their passion for making dogs both comfortable and snazzy that makes Wiff Waff Designs stand out.
I discover that they’ll be moving on from running the physical shop after five years shortly into the new year, but I’m relieved to learn that they’re not actually leaving the area. The business will continue selling online and at events, and their workshop, and my little mate Zack will still be based in the same unit on Sneinton Market. “We’re still not known, it’s been difficult with a building site (Freckingham Street) opposite us, so the footfall hasn't been as good as we would like it to be, and we make our money out at shows,” Georgie explains.
The pandemic also took its toll on that main income stream, but their saving grace was producing face masks - which they were in an ideal spot to make. “In the beginning I thought it would just be a few people who wanted to coordinate with their dogs, but it was just phenomenal, we took the same amount from face masks that we'd lost at the shows, and we were very lucky that we timed it right.” Every cloud has a silver lining.
But swanky pet wear isn’t all they sell, and soon we’re chatting about what goes in, as well as on, our furry friends. “We stock a couple of different types of natural treats, and we know exactly what goes into them, as we’ve been round where they’re made - one’s in Hereford and the other is on the Sandringham Estate.” And they’re keen on raw-feeding their dogs. Why’s that? “It’s what they ate originally and what their body’s used to. There’s some real rubbish that goes into standard pet food - which can include ground plastic as a bulking agent. When they're eating raw they get a lot more bone, it’s good for their teeth”.
They’re excited about the times ahead, and not being tied to opening a quiet shop four days a week. “We'll still be here and people will still be able to come in and knock on the door and buy stuff, but I’ll be able to concentrate on what we’re doing at shows.”
Visit Wiff Waff Designs at Unit 44 on Sneinton Market whilst you can for the next few months, or shop online via their website
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