We had a chat with Aline who is the creative mind behind chacharocks. Find out more about her unique vintage inspired luxury leather dog collars and accessories proudly handmade in London.
What did you do before you started your business? Or still do if your business is a hobby?
Originally I went to art school and became a mixed media visual artist. I did other gigs while exhibiting art and also wrote freelance. Then later I trained to work with vulnerable adults and to practice Reiki-Secheim, a form of energy healing, and animal communication. I have always loved animals. At the moment my focus is my business and practicing Reiki-Secheim.
Who or what was the inspiration behind you getting started?
While I was in full-time recovery from a mental health condition having not been in employment for over four years a therapist gave me an adult education college brochure, which led to me taking a business course. My dog had just passed away and I liked the idea of starting a business both to remember him and to have the freedom of using my creative skills and working for myself. At the time it was more of an idea than a reality though.
How long have you been running the business and who runs it with you/helps you out?
My website has been up for almost two years. On the 1st of May 2016 I launched a new product range thanks to a small business loan. Before that I would say I was test selling and marketing. My products are made by Alma leather, a luxury leather goods manufacturer that has produced products for Tommy Hilfiger and The Mayfair Hotel in London, an experienced designer who specialises in vintage era clothing and myself. With the help of the business loan I was able to hire a social media consultant this year. Everything else including designing my products I do myself. Before launching my website I received mentorship from an organisation called South East Enterprise and support from a mental health charity. Both were invaluable for giving me the impetus to keep going. Recently a company called Lambchop Creative designed my new business logo, which represents my business perfectly.
How did you decide what products to make?
Initially I needed something very easy to produce in small quantities so I chose dog bandanas and bow ties, which were easy to design and get made. For my new range I had an idea for a vintage inspired capsule range that was as stylish as human clothing, in pastel colours that were classic rather than sugary and that could work as Unisex products. I was inspired by my greyhound Ronnie, who has a very elegant silhouette.
What challenges did you face with making your first products?
I was living in temporary housing, basically a step up from a hostel, and doing everything from a small box room and my local internet café, so I had to invest a lot of belief in my idea with very limited funds. With a creative background rather than a business one I had to learn how to design products that I could afford to produce and that could have an acceptable mark-up rather than pieces whose design was driven purely by how I wanted them to look. That took some adjustment.
How did you come up with the business name?
Initially I wanted to call the business renerocks, after my Pomeranian René, but it didn’t have quite the right ring to me. chacharocks just popped into my head and it seemed right. People often comment on my business name it so I’m glad I went with my gut choice.
In one sentence describe what is the best thing about your products?
They’re one of a kind.
What’s an average day-in-the-life of your business?
Up until the 1st of May I was more or less working full-time to get my new products out. Managing a mental health condition means I have to constantly adjust the balance of my work day to prioritise my health so since the beginning of May I have been focusing on resting and self-care while working on marketing, writing guest blogs and a new You Tube channel to promote my company. And of course walking my dog Ronnie is also an important part of my day.
What do you love most about what you do?
Designing my products and my promotional material including my website, product photographs and social media visuals, and writing blog content. I would do this all day long if I could! But doing things outside my comfort zone like learning to look at spreadsheets, actively pursuing promotional opportunities and doing market research, while not as enjoyable, has helped my confidence and given me a sense of achievement.
If you could do anything else other than what you’re doing now what would it be?
I would be a therapist – probably an art therapist.
What has a customer said to make you smile?
“I love my pink glitzy bandanna. The pink is lovely soft material and the sequins get me lots of smiles and attention.” That’s a testimonial from Doris the Lurcher.
Do you have any pets? If so we’d love to know more about them – and any pictures that you have to share.
My first dog was a lovely Pomeranian called Rene. I got him from a pet shop while living in New York City, before I knew about puppy mills. He passed away in 2013 and my business is inspired by him. I now live with Ronnie a handsome, adopted brindle hound. He loves being outdoors, eating and sleeping, preferably on my bed! He also models many of my products. Both of them are in my company logo.
And finally, what do you do to relax?
I walk my dog, do tai chi and exercise and spend time in nature. I also watch films and pore through fashion magazines.
Thank you to Aline Duriaud for a great insight into you and your business. Definitely a company that Ruffle Snuffle Recommends!
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