What made you start Outback Tails?
I had been in the pet industry for more than ten years designing pet accessories and building our sister company DOOG (Dog Owners Outdoor Gear) with my partner Jamie when I came up with the concept for Outback Tails. I felt there was a gap in the market for a brand that really showcased all that I loved about Australia, it’s landscapes, animals and people, incorporated with pet accessories.
Initially I designed the range as an export brand exclusive to the United States and the European market but I soon realised that there was a huge interest in the products locally too, so I launched the online store – www.outbacktails.com for Australian customers to purchase our products.
Where do your designs come from?
All of the prints on my Indigenous range of beds, collars, leads and jackets are paintings from the Indigenous artists at the Warlu art Centre in Yuendumu and 10% of all of my sales go back to the featured artists.
The Outback animal toys were created by me as I really wanted to design a toy my dogs could play with that was non-toxic for them to chew. I also wanted to do my bit to help save our amazing native animal habitats from destruction which is a cause I’m particularly passionate about, so I give a percentage of profits from the sale of my toys back to a variety of local wildlife charities.
Where do you see the business in 5 years time?
I would love to see the brand really grow in the US and European market and hope that with the increasing popularity and success of the brand, I can help generate income for my featured artists while bringing attention to their amazing work overseas. I have a variety of new products in the pipeline and want to branch out into cat accessories in the not too distant future.
What made you form such a strong connection with the Warlukurlangu Artists of Yuendumu?
The connection with the Warlu artists all started from the love I had for one of their featured artists’ work that I was saving up to purchase. I had seen Pauline Napangardi Gallagher’s work in a gallery multiple times and one day I decided that I would contact her to see if she would be interested in working with me on this project.
I spoke to the manager at the arts centre who mentioned that dogs were an integral part of the Aboriginal community in Yuendumu and the artists at Warlukurlangu were often surrounded by camp dogs as they worked on their paintings.
They also have an amazing Desert Dogs program at the Warlu centre where they raise money to desex, vaccinate and re-home strays in the area.
After speaking with them, it just seemed like the perfect fit for both of us to collaborate on this project and I’m very lucky to be associated with such an amazing group of artists.
How was your recent European launch?
It was phenomenal! The German market absolutely loved the art featured on the products. They are such a forward-thinking country with a passion for design and quality, and they just loved the range. The products are now being stocked in a lovely selection of boutique retailers over there, and in France and Scandinavia too, so it’s all very exciting.
What do you think it means to be a pet owner?
There is a saying that if you want to experience true love, buy a dog. That says it all for me. My dogs give me so much comfort, love and happiness, and I couldn’t imagine my life without them.
Images: Graced with art by the Warlukurlangu Aboriginal Artists of Yuendumu. Visit www.outbacktails.com for more details.