Sustainable pet furniture made in Kent
Pets & Pods is a small studio based in Kent, UK. Run by husband and wife Victor and Jenny. We first met the young brand during London Design Festival back in 2018. Here, we chat about Pets & Pods design philosophy, sustainable pet furniture, their feline muse and what happened next with their young business.
We met when you introduced your brand at London Design Festival in September 2018. What’s happened since?
Participation at LDF gave us a lot of confidence. The very same month we started our small production line with all the joys of building a brand from scratch. We never thought it would be a straightforward path to success but on a few occasions, it felt like swimming in the mud. We had to change our approach to designing new stuff, all initial products were revised along with pricing plans and several suppliers were substituted. Changes are still happening and we feel that we are moving in the right direction.
What’s your background?
I (Victor), am originally from Latvia where I studied woodcarving and later building conservation at London’s AA School of Architecture. My wife Jenny is from Bangkok, Thailand. She is an interior designer by trade with the added knowledge of the retail industry.
All cat & dog beds are made from PET felt that has been made from recycled water bottles. Can you tell us more about the material and why you are using it?
We use PET felt to make sustainable pet furniture mainly because of its decorative and sound-absorbing properties and also for the fact that production involves recycling large amounts of plastic, namely bottles and other post-consumer waste. We push ourselves to develop products with interchangeable parts and encourage our customers to repair rather than throw away. This material is the most widely recycled type of plastic and allows damaged parts to be recycled into something useful again.
Your feline muse (Oscar) used to be a feral cat but seems to have moved in permanently. How is he getting on with all the product testing work you give him?
Oskar is a rescue cat and he changed a lot since we adopted him. And the changes are only positive! It took us a while to earn his trust and now he is happy to work with us. We never push or force him, by the way, because its wrong and simply doesn’t work. He’s very cautious and rational in his “work” and now he’s using different products depending on his mood or changing environment. We observe and learn. We think it’s important for him to own a special place of his own and it looks like he’s happy to be part of our team.
What are the ups and downs of running a small business?
Our brand is only one year old and it’s too early to talk about any financial success. But sales are inevitably increasing due to improvements in design and especially marketing and this is an incredibly positive feeling. During market days we are able to meet other makers, exchange ideas and interact with the public, which is important, especially after spending many days in our workshop.
Downs are obviously all things accounting, numbers and trying to get prices right. Technology helps a lot, there are numerous apps for small businesses, so we’re not complaining, really. All our designs are protected but there’s always a thought that someone will start copying our ideas and flood the market with cheap knockoffs. There’s very little we can do about that apart from being one step ahead and generate new cool ideas. To summarise there are more positive factors than negative so we encourage other likeminded creatives to do the same at their own pace.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
We had a lot of practical advice from Sven of Rockster who gave us a very sober analysis of our brand and what steps we should make next. Basically he confirmed what we already had in mind and refocused our otherwise blurred vision.
And finally, if a dog or cat owner asked you how to best pamper their pet. What would your advice be?
A regular belly rub is a must and conversation with your pet is important. Tell them how beautiful they are and how much you love them! A comfortable pet bed would be another item on our advice list, and now you know where to look for it!
Nice to have you here,