D for Dog began life in June 2004 as a dog photo gallery and shrine. Jenny Prevel took inspiration from her dogs Boycie and Berkeley to grow the site considerably since then to include dog news, events, articles and funnies, plus deaf dog information, a friendly dog forum, and of course an online shop for dog accessories.
Some thoughts from the interview
“It all started about 10 or 11 years ago when we rescued a couple of rescue dogs. In those days you didn’t have your social media, there was no YouTube and Facebook and things like that. I joined an online dog forum and we used to chat about the dogs. It was very basic and there was no way to upload photos which we all wanted to share. So I thought I would a bit of free web space and upload photos for people.”
“One of my dogs is deaf and I had made loads of different signs for him and photographed them so I thought I will upload those as well that is really helpful to people.”
“It just started growing and I thought I better name this thing and get some proper web space and it just exploded from there.”
“It definitely evolved. When it was just photos and poems and bits and bobs it was just my hobby… it got so large I did start to think I wonder if I can make money out of this and the most obvious way was to add a shop. I had no trouble of thinking of products I would like to sell because my dogs are spoilt rotten, they have got everything so I thought well this product is brilliant and so is this. I thought if I can sell products I can believe in then it has got be a winner so that is how the shop got added.”
“In the back of mind at that point if the shop does well maybe I could make a partial living out of it or a full living out of it.”
“The full living happened. It took a few more years before I gave up my full time job and did d for dog as my job.”
“I wouldn’t have known how to approach those people. I was modest I didn’t think that me, little old d for dog, could do but if you have got some unusual products those sort of publications will find it.”
“it is all stuff that I have found and though wow, I would buy that for my dog, or that is a bit unique or that is the best dog bowl I ever tried I must have it. I am very much about that. I don’t just want to sell it because it or because everyone else does. It is all handpicked by me.”
“With the variants there are thousands. I know with variants it must be 5000 or something.”
“We work with a lot of UK individual makers of items. So your lady who is sitting there making collars or your lady sitting hand painting toy boxes or bowls. I love working with those people and having a real close relationship with them. They are the people making your unique products, the stuff you’re not going to find on the high street, your personalised products and those special things that I wanted for the shop. We work with must be about 20 or so of various makers of products across the UK.”
“It is lovely to get a call from like a TV show, last year we made a bowl for Sykes on midsummer murders.”
“We have a lot of repeat customers. We don’t let people down and we have such a great range once you have bought one thing you are going to come back. Our repeat customers are many and are really important to us. If you do a great customer service to somebody and they will tell your friends.”
“Me and my husband spent days trying to think of a name.”
“Everybody we speak to, even when we speak to the banks, they always say that is a great name.”
“Mainly I spend my energies on SEO. I think that is a more permanent solution rather than constantly spending money on ads.”
“When google change their feeds, I put a penny on, just so I am there, just so I am live, it is certainly not something I look at or concern myself with.”
“We actually did get rid of the forum, it was a real shame, I think it was last year because Facebook and social media had become so big that the forum had become obsolete.”
“In the old days before they were called blogs you just wrote an article and put it on your website and there was no way to interact with anyone about it. Now you can write a blog and underneath there will be a comment section and it is nice now you can write your article or blog and people can interact with you.”
“The dog world is fantastic. Dog lovers are fantastic. I don’t want to sit here in a bubble at my computer just selling products.”
“The blog is really important as is social media.”
“We have just got an open Facebook page, and twitter and google plus and anyone can just come on and talk to us.”
“I love social media. I think that it must help you sell more products; it certainly can’t hurt. When we have got a new product I have to sell people about it. You can’t just put it on your site. I will always put it on all the social media outlets. I also think that you can’t go everyday here’s is another new product, it comes across as a little spammy.”
“I really could not do this if I did not love it.”
Best advice: “Only work in an area you really love otherwise it is just not going to happen. If you build it, they will come does not apply to ecommerce.”
What do they offer?
All the items are hand-picked by Jenny as unusual, particularly useful, or recommended to her by other dog lovers. If it’s not good enough for Boycie or Berkeley, it doesn’t go on the site shop!
How to contact D For Dog!
Check out my list of resources, free tools and great advice: Resources Here
I offer strategic consultations for your own eCommerce business: Consultation Here