Samantha Murray Greenway has been fashion editor of a national newspaper, written columns for broadsheets, including The Financial Times and the Telegraph; worked for the ‘glossies’ from Vogue to Dazed & Confused. She has a truly creative eye and a knack for making brands go that extra mile. Over the last few years though, she has turned her creative eye to her own business, Tales of Teddy which sells luxury products for dogs including hand-stitched collars and high end dog bowls.
TechRound caught up with Samantha to find out what drives her business and the inspiration behind creating such an endearing brand.
Hi Samantha, so who are Tales of Teddy?
Teddy is the hairy mucky pup for whom Tales of Teddy is named. He is a pepper-and-salt Miniature Schnauzer with a smart line in facial hair and a busy urban lifestyle. When not accompanying his ex-fashion editor owner about the streets of London, he can be found chasing balls on the Heath, in Hampstead where he lives.
What’s in the name?
Tales of Teddy started out as a blog about our new (furry) family addition back in 2014. As a journalist new to all things dog, my experience as a novice dog owner in London seemed the natural thing to write about. There’s just so much dog stuff to learn– from the essentials, like choosing the right dog for you, preparing for a dog to come and live in your home (bit of a steep learning curve, that one), training a dog (not to mention finding the right kind of dog trainer – I had one significant false start), dog insurance, vets etc.
Then there’s the fun bit: discovering the best dog kit – there’s quite a bit of sifting to be done. I also wanted to write about the ‘day-to-day-ness’ of owning a dog – walking a dog, meeting kind doggy people and all the inevitable scrapes that can be got into. It’s my take on the all-encompassing, crazy, sweet and ever so addictive world of dog.
What brought you from the world of fashion to where you are now with ToT?
As a fashion editor I have always been interested in well-designed things with a certain level of style, but I have also always appreciated when things are made well. I’m interested in the story behind the goods that I buy, whatever they are. I want to know where they are made, how they are put together and that they will last. Whether it’s a pair of shoes for me or a bowl for the dog, whatever I buy I want it to look good and be made well and with integrity.
When I couldn’t find the kind of things I wanted for Ted – the kind of things I also wanted to see in my home everyday – I commissioned them from various craftspeople I’d discovered along the way. It was a complete joy to collaborate with people skilled in their trade and it took me back to my art school roots. Several of my friends commented that they’d like one of such-and-such for their dog, and that was what gave me the idea of evolving the blog into the online store, offering a small collection of dog goods made in partnership with skilled British craftspeople.
I’m interested in supporting traditional crafts – I think there’s a n element of ‘use it or lose it’. Our Better Dog Lead and Collar uses best British bridle leather, it’s made up by an experienced British saddler and has buckles that are exclusively hand cast for Tales of Teddy in one of the few remaining brass foundries serving the equestrian industry. The dog bowls are made by a stylish English pottery studio, the blankets come in an exclusive dog friendly size, and are made in a traditional Welsh woollen mill.
Luxury dog products are an interesting area of business. How have things developed in over the last few years since you started up?
I think we’ve seen many more new young dog-focused businesses start up – the dog market is revving up – I mean, you can buy cupcakes for you dog! It feels like a very exciting time. There are plenty of different angles being covered, from classic heritage to deeply groovy, from eco and recyclable to hi-tech – there are more and more options for dogs, which is fun and good for us. It keeps us on our toes!
Who and where would you say are your main customers?
Our customers tend to be UK-based, however, saying that, I have recently shipped to South Korea, Ireland, America and Australia.
More celebrities than ever are flaunting their pets. Has this helped business?
Whether we like it or not, we know that celebrities set trends and drive markets. If celebrities are spoiling their dogs then that will probably be good news for dog businesses everywhere (more business news).
Where next for ToT and what does the future have in store?
These are exciting times. We have more products in the pipeline, and there are always new ideas. Our aim is build slowly and gain trust. I want our customers to come to Tales of Teddy for the best of all things dog. There was a great quote from French fashion supremo Carine Roitfeld “I am not part of the ‘throw-away’ fashion generation.
I have a respect for quality. I like things that get better as they age.” So I also want our customers to be coming back in twenty years’ time, when the leather on their Better Dog Lead might need a spot of attention…We are in it for the long haul.
What is your signature product?
Our Better Dog Collar is our signature product – it is made properly and to last, from the best quality bridle leather, barrel-dyed to ensure the colour is true and strong, the traditionally stamped logo – a star and our ToT branding, a buckle that’s hand cast especially for us and comes with a distinctive stainless steel prong for added strength, the amount of holes added for longevity, the fact that we only use hand-stitching (because rivets and glue are a cheaper solution) – it’s just a beautiful thing, and if you take care of it, it will last an incredibly long time.
Where can we find you?
You can find us online: www.talesofteddy.com
On Facebook at: Tales of Teddy