Margaret Reynolds is managing director of Dogrobes, a Scottish-based company that manufactures and sells specialist dog drying jackets.
In the five years that she’s operated the business, she has enhanced the product design, developed its online sales and added new products to the range, taking the business to a new level in sales, winning awards and breaking into overseas markets too.
Her involvement in Dogrobes all started out as a project to fill her time after becoming an empty nester…
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
I have a degree in marketing and languages and worked in retail and marketing before starting a family.
I was a full-time mum before taking over Dogrobes, a business that makes and sells specialist dog drying coats. I had no aspirations to run my own company but fell into it when I became an empty nester.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
No! Dogrobes were originally designed by my friend Ann Playle, an experienced working dog trainer. Ann had eight muddy, wet labs sharing her home and came up with the idea of a practical dog drying coat to solve the problem of wet dogs and muddy shake off.
I knew and loved the product as I had one for my toy poodle Missie and with my daughter Nicola leaving our Scottish home to embark on her studies in London, and Ann planning on retiring, it all just seemed to fit into place.
The timing was perfect, and coming from a marketing background, I could see a lot of potential in the product, and in developing the online sales side of the business.
Have you faced any particular milestones along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?
All the time! We developed a brand new product to add to the Dogrobes range on the back of feedback from our customers. They told us that they loved Dogrobes and wondered if we could come up with a solution to drying the head, neck and ears. That’s when we designed and developed the snood.
Running a business is like riding a wave. It’s very rarely smooth sailing but that’s what makes it interesting! And it’s great when we’re able to come up with solutions that help our customers.
If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?
Equal pay. Same job, same work, same pay – it’s that simple. If two people, regardless of gender, do the same job over the same amount of time, then it is only right to be paid the same for that job. To not do so is unfair and demoralising.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
It’s really useful to share your experiences – good and bad – to help others who are just starting out and that’s why I became a mentor for my local professional women’s group, Moray Business Women. I also have my own mentor through Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the Scottish Government’s economic and community development organisation for our area, although we are just at the early stages and have only had one meeting to date.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
Dogrobes have been tweaked, new ranges and accessories have been added, and we’ve now had orders for Dogrobes from every UK postcode area, in addition to having over 50 UK stockists. We’re selling Dogrobes overseas now. There have been awards too, with Dogrobes named K9 Magazine Product of the Year 2017.
What is your latest challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
I started out working from a spare room in my home but when the business grew, we moved to rented premises in a nearby town.
The premises have been sold and our new landlord has given us notice to find a new Dogrobes base but we’re on the case, looking at viable alternatives.
We’ve also just added a new exclusive camouflage pattern to our range. It was feedback from Scottish gamekeepers who already use Dogrobes for their working dogs that got us thinking about bringing this out.
Like all Dogrobes, they come in the full range of nine sizes and can be personalised with a dog’s name or a harness access opening. They have camouflage on the outside, with our unique terry towelling material on the ties and inside, which goes next to the dog’s coat to dry it after outdoor swimming, training, bathing or working. This fabric is exclusive to Dogrobes with longer loops on the inside to dry the dog quickly.
We think dogs look great in the new camouflage dogrobe and we’re delighted to be able to offer our growing customer base a new and rather striking style option for their dogs.