This time last year Claire Smyth would never have dreamed that she’d have products for sale across the province, let alone in an outlet with over one million visitors per year.

 

As with many pet owners, Claire and her husband loved spending time going on long walks with their dog, an Irish setter called Abbey. Having spent many hours sharing the countryside and beaches of Donegal with other dog owners, Claire noticed a shift in the way people were treating their dogs and spotted a gap in the market for quality handmade dog accessories. Feeling inspired by her love of dogs and wanting to capitalise in the surge in popularity for  locally produced goods, the idea of ‘Don’t Forget the Dog’ was born.

 

With the support of her husband, Claire went online and set about her research. She was put in touch with her local enterprise agency, CIDO, where she met  with a ‘Go for It’ adviser and hasn’t looked back since. With her adviser’s guidance Claire put together a business plan and only months later ‘Don’t Forget the Dog’ was trading.

 

Based in Moira, Claire designs and makes all her own accessories; these include doggie bandanas, dickie bows, poo bags, dog leads and collars. She sells her products online through Facebook and Etsy as well as at fairs and through a network of local and regional suppliers including the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre, Pet & Country in Ballymoney, Pets R Us, Limavady, Heatherlea pet shop in Dungannon, K9 pet shop, Ballynahinch, Allie Mae’s of Maghera, The Cottage Industry shop in Enniskillen, The Bank House in Whitehead, The Willow in Moira and Alana Interiors of Lurgan. One year on, the business is thriving.

 

Claire urges anyone with an idea they are passionate about to get in touch with their local ‘Go for It’ team. “There’s been long hours and lots of hard work however I would say to anyone with a dream idea for a business to get in touch with a ‘Go for It’ adviser; for me it’s been a life changing decision”.

 

For more information on ‘Go for It’ or other business support available contact CIDO; Tel 028 3839 6520, Email info@cido.co.uk