The lockdown inspired a 50-year-old designer to launch an online pet accessories store
Manisha Shah with Alita D’Souza’s dogs, Buddy (left) and Delilah, who came in during the lockdown. Pics/Satej Shinde
Last May, when Malad resident Manisha Shah, 50, visited Alita D’Souza to deliver a dress she had made for her, she met Buddy, Alita’s two-year-old golden retriever. She cautiously bent down to touch the bandana around his neck. “The material is itchy,” she told D’Souza. “Dogs can’t tell you but would you wear it?”
This conversation resulted in Shah making a bandana for Buddy who is three and a few months now, and a few months on, she launched The Fur Buddies, an accessories brand for pets as well as pet parents, with his owner. “In 2018, I had returned to designing ethnic wear after a hiatus of many years. In the lockdown, I found the time to research for creating products for animals, something I never imagined myself to do,” says Shah, who delved into researching products, tearing them apart to study their making and to find flaws that they could solve in their own line.
For now, they offer international standard size products and customisation is in the pipeline. They began with making accessories like flowery bow ties for pets during Diwali. Then, they moved on to collars, leashes, and home décor. The bright, fun prints are used for pet products like beds and mats, poop bag dispensers as well as treat pouches and pee mats.
“I went through a lot of stuff that was available in the market, and realised people don’t use the right material. We started sourcing from across India. Our skid-free material for mats is sourced from Kanpur while the buckles come from Delhi,” says Shah who admits she had no great affection for animals. “I would occasionally pet a stray in my vicinity, but that has changed completely,” she smiles.
The lockdown gave the homemaker a new calling. “Last year was tough for almost everyone but it also brought opportunities if we only looked. I loved the new role of researching products, and running around for them. We faced many challenges as work got delayed due to workers not showing up, and travelling rules due to containment zones. But it has all been worth it,” she signs off.
Log on to: thefurbuddies.com; @wearefurbuddies on Instagram