My two pups are my world. They may not participate in my foodie indulgences, but I sure spoil them with other types of treats! Most recently, with two brand new luscious leather collars from local entrepreneur woof pack, Collars4Africa.
If you know even just a little about me, you would know that my other two obsessions, other than food and drink, are plants and pups. My salary is split almost exactly in quarters between good food, stunning wines, plants and my two rescue dogs. Well, and a bit for bills, but that’s just boring!
I recently heard lots of barking around Collars4Africa, a funky, fresh and young Cape Town based company who manufacture stunning bespoke leather collars for dogs, and I couldn’t help to sniff around.
What I found, was six students who’s university project took flight, and who conceptualised, built, and launched a small business in the midst of the COVID-19 lock-down. Offering a small selection of beautifully hand-crafted, quality leather collars in proudly South African designs, the pups simply had to get upgrades on their current fraying collars!
The Collars4Africa team very generously gifted me one of their collars, and I bought a second one (because favouritism and all). They arrived beautifully packaged, and exactly size fit. And maybe I’m being a little biased, but I think Watson and Frankie makes the perfect Collars4Africa ambassadors!
What better way to learn than by actual hard experience? Every year the postgraduate management students who specialize in entrepreneurship are required to start a profitable business. Six determined students (Sisipho Graham, Alexia Abramson, Godfrey Ramaboea, Matthew Wicht, Sean Young and Anver Victor) who met through the well-known Genesis course at the University of Cape Town founded Collars4Africa and have begun trading. They launched officially in June of 2020 and currently sell a range of bespoke, handmade genuine leather collars.
With online sales already happening, the students are busily establishing distribution through traditional pet shops and veterinary practices. Marketing through Instagram, Facebook and posters in dog parks will help get the message out to target audiences.
While the UCT course requires the budding entrepreneurs to sustain the business for one year, the students have stated that they would like to continue the business well after completing their academic requirements (press release).
A commitment to quality and local resources
What excited me most about the Collars4Africa vision, is that the guys and girls behind it saw a gap in the budding pet market. Spending more and more on our pets as we embrace them as family members, there’s a need for quality, handcrafted pet accessories.
I also love the fact that they use local Cape Town resources to create their collar ranges. Made with *vegetable tanned leather, the collars are crafted with durability and ageing potential in mind, as the leather would become more pliable with age.
*Vegetable tanned leather refers to the tannage, or method of tanning the cowhide into leather. It’s called “vegetable” because of the natural materials used in the tanning process like tree bark.
Collars4Africa was also developed with the ever-important aim to stimulate micro-economic growth and help to provide work and jobs for local communities. The collars are manufactured by a local female leather craftswoman who has her own artisanal business, VSN Africa, based in Joostenberg Vlakte, Western Cape.
The happy hounds
A weekend away in the countryside presented as the perfect opportunity to show off their Genesis range collars.
Watson sported the iconic Table Mountain collar (size S), and Frankie opted for the intricately patterned Ndebele collar (also size S). Both made with genuine leather, the collars are sturdy and resilient in the onslaught of bushes, rocks, puddles and dust.
Now, a few weeks later, they are still two happy hounds. They’ve settled into their collars beautifully, and the leather has softened down to create a comfortable, lived-in fit. The bronze fittings and finishes are robust yet modern, and the hand-painted signature golden paw print a luxurious touch.
I was worried at the start about how comfortable the collars would be, being a lot broader and “harder” than the narrow material collars they used to have, but my fears were soon put to rest as neither Frankie nor Watson ever showed any signs of discomfort or irritation. When they sleep, there is enough space to move around freely, without being loose enough to slip off their heads.
Even with Watson being slightly smaller, the collars fitted both dogs perfectly and they forgot about it completely just a few short minutes after the Great Collar Swap of 2020.
In a time when supporting local is even more important than ever before, consider a bespoke pet gift for your fellow fur-moms, or even for your own best friends. They are functional and practical, yet gorgeously indulgent and stylish.
I wish the woof-pack behind Collars4Africa a barking successful journey, wherever it may “lead” them!
Disclaimer: I was given this product(s) as part of a press drop in exchange for my honest and truthful opinion and review thereof. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are solely those of The Little Hedonist, given in good faith and in no way influenced by the company or its affiliates. All images, unless otherwise stated/credited, are also my own.