Horsham dog collar company creates jobs for Kenyan villagers
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Malulu, opened in 2013 by Louise Edwards, crafts handmade dog collars by people who work at Zinj Design in Takaungu village, on the Kenyan coast.
Louise has had a fascination with Africa her whole life as her parents lived and worked in Kenya in the 1960s and 70s and the stories of their exciting adventures inspired her to travel to Africa herself. Louise was keen to create employment in the village and all workers are empowered by fair wages, good working conditions and sustainable employment.
Women in particular have benefited from being encouraged to take up what sometimes has been considered a mans’ craft, as there is little employment for them in the area. In support of independent local businesses, we have interviewed the director, Louise, for our Meet the Owner piece.
What made you decide to open this business?
I wanted to promote the high-quality craft products made by skilled artisans in Kenya, support sustainable employment of these artisans and to retain a connection to the country when I relocated back to the UK.
What does your weekly schedule look like?
No two days are the same, whether its preparing orders for dispatch, photographing and editing new designs (we are about to come out with beaded bracelets to match our dog collars) or working on social media with my super furry mascot, Minnie May. I also run a farm and glamping site, so there’s never a dull moment in the office!
What gives you the most satisfaction in this job?
Every time a customer sends me a photo of their dog in their new Malulu collar, I know that that I have achieved two things: I have made my customer happy at the same time as supporting a rural community with sustainable employment and fair trade conditions. All this whilst I work from home with my dog snoozing in the armchair.
Where do you see yourself/your business in five years?
I will have developed Malulu’s product range of collars and lead designs so they are available in a wider variety of shops such garden centres, pet stores gift shops nationwide and online. This in turn will enable side-projects in Kenya to promote sustainable and ethical support in the local community where Malulu’s products are made, and beyond.
What successes has your business seen so far?
Expanding the sizes and styles of dog collars to include the skinny and lurcher collections, creating my best-selling design, the Mombasa Red dog collar (as modelled by a dog featured in a Land Rover advert), and sending collar orders to some very high-net-worth clients across the country.
What is the most challenging part of starting your own business?
Starting up a business is hard work, and doing so own your own is tough. You have to rely on yourself, take responsibility for your decisions, and have the courage to adapt.