Meet Kate Brown.
What was the inspiration behind Henley and Co.?
A few things!
As an animal lover and someone who has had dogs all my life, I have always been committed to helping animals in need.
I have always dreamt of buying a large property and rescuing animals, but unfortunately as a single mum with three children, that’s just not possible for me at this point in time.
Starting Henley & Co was an opportunity for me to help in the fight against animal cruelty, which I do by donating a percentage of our profits to animal rescues.
I also felt that there was a huge gap in the Australian market for beautiful and stylish dog beds and accessories. I was purchasing collars for my dogs from overseas, and more often than not the cost of shipping was more than the actual collar was worth.
I was running an events business during that time that consumed every inch of my week and weekends, with very little financial gain.
And I had pondered on the idea of starting a dog accessories business for a while.
It wasn’t until we adopted a Vizsla puppy that the inspiration behind Henley & Co really came to fruition.
I desperately wanted to buy her a cave bed, and found that they could only be purchased from the USA. And the cost of shipping was over $250!
I searched everywhere online and came to a dead-end when trying to find an Australian stockist.
That was the turning point.
I shut down my events business and started to conduct my own research on how I could design and make my own cave beds here in Australia.
Certainly a product I knew was in much demand by Australian dog owners.
And as someone who has always been very creative, I relished in the idea of designing my own dog collars and beds, and loved seeing my designs come to life.
I wanted to offer pet owners products that were unique and stylish, within an affordable price range, and most importantly, comfortable for all pets to enjoy!
Why did you choose the name Henley?
In January 2017 my partner and I went on a road trip together around South Australia.
We visited Henley Beach, a coastal suburb in Adelaide where I had enjoyed living for two years when I was in my 20’s. I had truly loved my years living in Henley Beach.
Whilst sitting on Henley beach one day, watching the sunset, a gentleman walked past with his Vizsla and naturally I struck up a conversation with him.
He told me her name was Henley and it seemed fitting at the time, and almost meant to be.
I decided at that point that our baby girl would be named Henley.
As the whole concept behind starting the business had arisen at the same time, it seemed a very personal and sentimental touch to name the business Henley & Co (with Co being in memory of all the other beautiful pups I have been blessed with throughout my life).
What is the ‘style’ of your products?
I suppose the style of our products are striking and eye-catching, with a minimalistic and simple touch.
I wanted to create dog beds that complimented the home, and collars that would make people say “oh wow! I love that collar. Where did you get it from?”
Combining style and comfort isn’t necessarily an easy process either.
Designing dog beds means finding a combination between both style and comfort.
I believe that using fairly neutral colours and timeless patterns is imperative, and obviously combining this with high quality fabrics and fillings to maximise comfort, is crucial as well.
What do you think it means to be a pet owner?
I think being a pet owner teaches us an incredible amount of love, loyalty, respect and responsibility.
I have three young children who have all grown up with dogs, and it was always important to me as a mother that they have this throughout their childhood.
It has not just given them a sense of responsibility, but an enormous sense of love and compassion. Not just for dogs but all living creatures and animals.
I think the companionship and therapy that comes with owing a pet can never be underestimated.
I know my children will one day grow up and leave home and I will be very lonely and lost without my dogs. The unconditional love and loyalty a dog offers is like no other.
If only more people in the world were like dogs, we’d certainly be a far more beautiful place.
In your opinion, why do you think so many people are now investing in luxury products and services for their pets?
I think there are a number of factors involved here.
I think we are being offered so much more variety than ever before.
Social media has created a very visual world for us and all we need to do is jump on Instagram and Facebook for a few minutes a day to see beautiful bodies, healthy foods, new recipes and the latest fashion trends.
It’s become an addiction.
We see these beautiful things on a daily basis and it has become a natural instinct to say “oh, I’d love that” or “I want that!”.
I think the way our society has changed over time has largely impacted this as well.
I would say that a significant number of our customers are couples who have successful careers and people who don’t have children yet, so their pets are their family.
They love to spoil their pets, similar to how parents like to spoil their children.
It’s only natural for us to want to give our loved ones everything. And with such an increase in variety and options available to us these days, why not?
What is next for your company?
Exciting things hopefully!
Firstly, we’d love to see Henley & Co make a significant difference in the fight against animal cruelty.
We are already corporate sponsors of the RSPCA but increasing this awareness and making a difference is very important to us.
And we are certainly looking at creating a lot more new and beautiful products to share!