Nothing lasts forever.


Today I had to contemplate saying ‘Goodbye’ to one of the most important things in my life; my business.


Jen’s Doggie Den‘ is closing its doors to Bristol residents after Christmas 2017. And although the reasons behind this are exciting, I am feeling quite remorseful about it this evening.

After setting up Cubbly’s it quickly became apparent that running two businesses was hugely time consuming. And as Cubbly’s is in its primary phases its a very demanding, hungry monster. I need to advertise, I need to design products, I need to buy inventory (The list feels endless!). On the other end of the scale my daycare business is well established and popular, giving me little to no hours in the day to dedicate to my new needy trade.

Something had to give. And it made sense for it to be The Den.

James and I have just had an offer accepted on a house in another city. We’re moving. Yes, I am thrilled (can’t you tell?) but it does mean the inevitable closure of Jen’s Doggie Den in Bristol. And although it’s impossible to tell exactly when we will move at this stage it made sense to use this as a reason to choose a date to close The Den.

And this week I made it public knowledge. It’s actually happening.


Even though the lengthy purchasing process is making obtaining our dream house a distant reality, Jen’s Doggie Den will be closing whatever happens. It will reopen in Gloucester for dog walking, but that doesn’t stop me from feeling sad.

In this job you look after people’s dogs as if they’re your own, and I treat Cassie like any other member of the family (they’ll tell you if that’s good or bad…). She is a person to me. Some people will judge me for that, but she’s well behaved and has a human personality behind those big brown eyes. And I see that in every dog that comes through the door. And now I am going to have to say goodbye to them. All of them.

It’s not for another 2 months, but that will go too quickly. These animals have become my companions. They’ve been there with me on some amazing days, be it sunshine by the sea as they dash about, chasing each other and digging in the sand or be it in the pouring rain, soaked to the bone but still yapping and tumbling about without a care as I grin in amusement. They’ve also been there on my worst of days, when everything has felt like too much and I’ve curled up on the sofa only to have three wet noses press against me as they’re desperate to show me some affection. Or on many Mondays, starting my week with a grumble as I clamber out of bed only to have it replaced with a smile as dogs run to the front door, panting in excitement ‘Yes! It’s daycare day!’.


I’ll be saying goodbye to friends. Yes, these little creatures are my friends. Most people spend their days working with people, but my conversations happen mostly with the furry kind.

It’s the best job in the world. And I’m only moving on because I want to accomplish something with Cubbly’s – I need to give my brain the creative outlet that it so desires. Its been bursting with inspiration for almost a year and finally I’m allowing it some freedom. It just means sacrificing my focus on something else that I love.

But I know it’ll be back. One way or another it will be in my life, just in a smaller fashion. Once you surround yourself with that much love and playfulness it has a permanent impact on your heart. This job has changed me, built my confidence and opened my eyes to possibilities I never thought were available to me.

Jen’s Doggie Den…


And thank you to all of the dogs for being part of my journey. I will take you with me in my heart forever.





The expert in anything was once the beginner.

What can I say about this week? Perhaps a list will suffice:

  1. Production? Slow.
  2. Ideas? Limited.
  3. Motivation? Non-existent. 

I am currently in a place that we can all relate to: A slump. Euch, yes that dreaded place. A place where the word work makes your shoulders fall, your face grimace and your body highly uncooperative. This all makes it incredibly difficult for me to sew. In fact, I haven’t touched my sewing machine this week.

I know, drama.

I mean damn it, Jen, where has that passion gone? Where are your dreams of bobbins and embroidery? Weaving their way into the fabric of your future, stitching a path to your success? Sorry, sewing references are kind of fun. Fun, a word I wouldn’t really use when describing how I feel when I currently think of sewing.

I have written a list. This list comprises of certain tasks I need to complete in order for Cubbly’s to develop as a business. A stock list is even on it. See, this is getting super professional. Ahhh. Ahhh is probably the right descriptive term for the feelings I have about the list. As although currently it only has approximately five items on it there are about two dozen more in my head, and that number continues to grow.

What can you do with an unending list? No matter what you do you will never be able to complete it. As when I start to think of the tasks I currently have written down I know there are so many more to do, so where do I start? And what’s the point in starting if ultimately I can never complete everything? And if I can never complete everything then will Cubbly’s ever be a success? If Cubbly’s is not going to be successful, what’s the point in even starting the first job? Why don’t I just sit here instead and watch Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on Netflix? Why didn’t I think of that before?

Welcome to the madness of my mind. Oh wait, yours does this too? And you also watch Crazy Ex-Girlfriend? How exciting! Though maybe you should face your issues rather than watching a show about a woman who is clearly in denial about her own mental health problems and therefore her life begins to unravel…wait.

Well then, time to get serious…for the most part.

I could blame the stresses of day to day life for my lack of motivation: We are currently waiting for a mortgage offer, our dream house depends on it so we are in a state of limbo. I am still working full time on Jen’s Doggie Den and with that closing it’s doors soon, emotions are running high. And I am also struggling with therapy, suffering with panic attacks and flashbacks that write off entire evenings and exhaust me the next day.

Yes, there’s a lot going on. Oh wait and we’re planning a wedding. Yes, we are slightly bonkers, I’m not sure if you’d noticed yet.

That’s the problem with being self employed. Motivation is a huge key to your success. When you’re employed your work is handed to you by your employer, you are given tasks and whilst these are taxing ultimately you are not the one creating the work. Being self employed it all comes down to you. In my case, customers are not going to walk in through my front door. Every day I spend away from my computer, away from promoting my business is another day that I go without being paid.

Yeah, motivation is a necessity. And whilst my motivation has gone on vacation, I am in no way giving up on Cubbly’s, But I do feel overwhelmed with the idea of even engaging in Cubbly business and after a week of thinking I think I know what it boils down to.

I currently run a business that relies on a service and whilst I have improved it over the years, nothing has drastically changed. I have been experimenting with Cubbly’s for over a month and already I am having to learn so much.

Though maybe I should have expected that as I started to learn to sew at the same time as starting a sewing business. Refer back to me being bonkers, okay?

But it’s not just learning a new skill. I am constantly learning about my product design. I have already had to change the dog collars to laminated material as the material I am using seems to scratch easily. One of the dog collars I sold has suffered with a faulty buckle so I am probably going to have to change suppliers and trial another style. These are so far the only two alterations I’m having to make, but every change feels like a failure. And it’s hard to look past that.

Putting your products out there, items you have hand crafted and designed, takes a lot of confidence. You are literally asking people to judge them; do they like them? Do they think they’re too expensive? Is the quality okay? You need to tick a certain number of boxes for someone to purchase your item and if they don’t, they won’t necessarily tell you why. You need to be active in improving everything whilst trying to not take criticism to heart. It’s a nightmare.

Perhaps that’s too strong a word. It’s a learning curve, a massive learning curve. And I detest the feeling of letting people down so when I do see one of my items has scratched my brain goes into overdrive. Given these people are mostly my friends at the moment and know I have just started up, but still it takes a moment for me to calm myself down.

So I guess this week I am suffering with confidence. But reading the title The expert in anything was once the beginner really helps me. Everyone has had to make mistakes to gain success. Anything, including the laptop I am writing on, will have gone through various stages of designs to get to the place it is now. And even then sometimes users give negative feedback. Every company is constantly trying to improve themselves.

As long as I am trying to improve, make my products and shop the best it can be to the best of my abilities…then I guess that’s all I can ask of myself.

I have every faith that Cubbly’s is going to be a success. Though what do I define as success? For now, making a profit. Then lets see where it takes me.



Do not judge my story by the chapter you walked in on.

Illnesses and therapies mentioned in this blog are linked at the end for more information.

When you suffer with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) a chapter could represent an hour rather than a substantial period of time; one minute I can be ecstatic about the future and the next choosing a meal can cause crippling anxiety.

Yeah, this week I am going to talk about my mental health. I wanted this blog to be about my ‘journey’ and mental health is a large part of my day-to-day life. It is something that is impossible for me to avoid, so let me share it with you.

And just a warning, reading this may be a trigger for some people. I’m sorry if that’s the case.

I have suffered with mental health problems since I was a child. It was after university that it truly came to a head. I couldn’t leave the house alone. The supermarket was a terrifying place filled with people and things that could potentially hurt me. I just wanted to hide in my room and escape this reality through games and books. And when I wasn’t panicking about other people and things hurting me, I was the one causing the damage. A sharp knife and a forearm was my trusted coping mechanism; it was a way to get rid of the torrent of emotions riding around inside of me. It meant I didn’t have to deal with whatever was rising up and threatening to take control. It meant I didn’t have to face the presence that was looming in the back of my mind, an ominous beast that threatened to weigh down on my chest and restrict my breathing, a suffocating sensation that stemmed from hidden nightmarish memories from my past. If I cut myself it was as if I sated that part of me, that creature that was created from those emotions – and with it, they were pulled back allowing me to breathe again.

Until the next time at least.

It would take me another two years to face the memories that were hiding there.

When I was twenty-three I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). It was a strange moment. I had always known that I wasn’t ‘depressed’, that had never seemed to fit what I was feeling. I was anxious, almost constantly, but there was a lot more going on inside of my head. But BPD? When they discussed the symptoms with me it was like a veil was being lifted. When I read the list of symptoms it was as if someone was describing me and exactly what I was going through. I was elated. This was what was wrong and surely if they could tell me what was wrong, they could also tell me how to fix it.

They did. In the form of 18 months of bi-weekly therapy sessions. 195 hours of therapy. It was overwhelming to take in, but if I stayed as I was, there was a risk I wasn’t going to make it past the next 18 months. And I am not saying that to be dramatic.

Looking back at those 18 months I can’t believe we did it. I say we because there are too many people to mention to thank for helping me through it. These people have seen someone they love in their worst state. They’ve sat with me in A&E after I’d overdosed, my best mate sleeping in a chair to keep my company as I trembled and threw up from the effects of the drugs. Another dropped everything because I’d rung her from a supermarket car park, petrified because I’d hurt myself more than I’d intended and I didn’t know what to do. My Aunt, who drove across the country because I’d become paranoid and tried to cut the implant out of my arm, convinced that it was what was making me feel this way. I could go on and on and I don’t say this to be shocking, I say this because this is the side of mental health that isn’t talked about. This gets looked over and people have to cope with it, not just the person going through it, but those around them. And that’s why I knew I had to complete those 18 months; at first it wasn’t just for me, it was for them as well.

And it’s always been easier to say it’s for them, to focus on doing this for someone else other than myself. As soon as I focused on myself, on what I had actually done to myself it became uncomfortable…even now I feel as if I’m talking about someone else. That those horrible events happened to other people. Because as soon as I begin to think about the reality of it being me in that A&E bed, or me with that knife in my hand, it begins to hit me as to why I did it all.

To this day I am still dealing with what happened to me. Even now I’ve stared at the cursor blinking for about 5 minutes unsure of what to say, unsure if I can say it. Or if it’s okay to say. But I want to, because people should talk about it more. That ‘it’ being sexual abuse. It’s a trauma people suffer that feels impossible to talk about. But more often than not when I’ve spoken about it people will say ‘I know someone who’s been through something similar’ or ‘Actually…I’ve been through it myself.’

No two stories are the same. No two traumas are ever the same, or even the effects they have on people. And, as for everyone, my own case is individual to me. Unfortunately it’s been a cumulative amount of trauma over the years from various individuals that have compounded into what I now have to cope with. And dealing with that even today – I am still remembering things that have happened to me. I will always remember the therapy session in which I realised that the horrific word ‘rape’ might apply to me. I researched it, I looked online, I even rang a helpline in some vain attempt to deny it. Because it couldn’t be true. That can’t have happened.

But it had. I have been in two abusive relationships. It’s funny, but until recently I wouldn’t have called them that. Only after intense therapy have I discovered the cause of my problems, my anger and my self-harm. Because every time the emotions came to the surface I might hurt myself – not deal with what had happened. Because what had happened was too horrific to even contemplate.

So I am now in EMDR therapy, following on from MBT. MBT helped me reach a point where I was able to confront those traumatic memories. And now EMDR is helping me face them.  Every week I go in and face up to memories in my past that still feel as if they’re happening today. I often get flashbacks during the day, triggered by the most obscure thing. I feel emotions and I feel physical sensations to the extreme, so much so that sometimes I can’t breathe. And sometimes I am completely out of control of my own body. It’s weird and scary. I begin to recognise now what the trigger are, and as a result I avoid things; such as movies, or TV shows with strong emotional content – or the news. I have to actively think about how to protect myself from these flashbacks, which in truth reflects a larger part of my mental health, including issues with food, socialising and intimacy.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because living with mental health is a daily struggle. Tonight, as I write this, there will be people sat in hospitals across the country, fighting silent battles as loved ones suffer with this illness. Like any other chronic condition you have to adapt your life to cope with its effects, as do those around you. It’s an illness that people sometimes have to live with their entire lives. And some aren’t as fortunate enough to receive the help that I have in my own struggle against BPD.

But, I have moved on from being unable to leave the house alone; now I have the confidence to be left alone to run my own business. I am not special. Others can achieve this too – with the right support. I have worked very hard to get here; emotionally it has not been easy for me or those around me. But we’re here, we’re happy and we’re looking forwards to the future.

In case people are interested there are some links below to explain some of the things I’ve talked about.





Wait, I did what?

It’s March. I’ve just returned from the Bahamas after seeing my sister (who lives out there, I know. We can collectively resent her and her husband). She had started running as a way to lose weight, as had Steven.

Yes running, ew. That thing people do. That thing that seems to gain immense popularity in January and the summer months. And somehow, somehow I also caught the running bug just in time for summer. But wait, it gets worse. Fast forwards a few months and I’ve started going out with my friend Jaime and what comes up in conversation? A Half Marathon.

Those words were said through nervous laughter to one another. We would do it, wouldn’t we? Haha. This is mad. Haha. Well shall we sign up to one tonight? Which one? Haha. Oh, I’ll send you the details. I’ve bought a placement, have you? Yes! Oh God this is suddenly very real.

And it is real. In fact, it’s now October and I have actually completed my first ever Half Marathon. I put those words in capitals because of the weight the experience has had on me (it is only 3 days later, but I don’t imagine it’s going anywhere very quickly). And to be honest, I still can’t really believe that I have achieved such an immense task.

It seems the tone is getting  a bit more serious now. So I’ll say this; I began running because of my anxiety. One of the recommendations for anxiety and stress is exercise. Words spoken by many GPs across the country and never really taken in. But not because we’re not listening, but because you have to be the one to decide to start. It has to be your choice, your want and desire. Because after an 8 hour shift the last thing you want to do is go out and run 3 miles.

Actually, that’s not strictly true. I personally fell in love with running (Ew, I’m sorry I know, but let me explain). It was my time away from stress, away from my phone and people constantly wanting something from me. There’s also a sense of achievement afterwards and the knowledge that on my darkest days that I still managed to do it. It was one of my best coping mechanisms and something I began to heavily rely on.

Now, converting that freedom into a training programme in order to run 13.1 miles is…interesting. I still enjoyed running. My first 10k felt amazing – I actually found it relatively easy (Not one to brag, I had trained a lot by this point). The highs of the beginning of the training were fantastic, but then the months dragged on and the distances became longer. And therefore the time it took increased as well.

Towards the end we were running 10 miles, which would take 2 hours of our time. That is a long, long time to dedicate to exercise and spend away from my sofa and games. This would be either on a weekend where everyone else was relaxing, enjoying downtime or after work which ultimately meant that that day there was no down time.

It was gruelling, but at the same time enjoyable. I knew it was going to be worth it in the end; it would be an experience I would take with me forever.

From the beginning I was told that the Half Marathon was going to be an amazing day, that the adrenaline would carry me through. And I believed it. Arriving in Cardiff with 25,000 other runners I could feel the excitement on the air (or that could have been the pyrotechnics). The BBC were there recording, there was music and a huge crowd. How could you not be excited? Well, someone with severe anxiety could tell you multiple reasons why; I was in a crowd, so I couldn’t get out easily and there was no escaping. Someone could easily hurt me. It was loud, so many things could go wrong. And I had to wait, just wait for an hour in that pen for the race to begin. It was intense.

It’s no real wonder why I then struggled for almost the entire race. The day after I was filled with a sense of sadness, not the elation that I had expected. But that was because the entire day wasn’t what I had been promised. I’ve had long runs where I’ve felt amazing, but this wasn’t one of them. I struggled from the first mile, my IBS flaring and making me feel sick. There was going to be no enjoyment in this race other than the occasional barrage of live music acting as a momentary distraction from the pain. But it wasn’t just physical; no one had warned me how emotional the day was going to be.

You’ve spent months training for this one day. Everything comes down to this performance, you put so much pressure on yourself to ace the race. But we’re not professional athletes. Our minds and bodies aren’t used to this sort of environment, it is bound to wreak havoc on you. I must have run past at least 3 different people crying within the first 2 miles; they could obviously run the distance. But as one girl sobbed ‘I’m just so frustrated with myself’ as she walked along I knew I was close to breaking down as well. It’s not just the physical strains but the mental ones you have to prepare for as well. And at mile 11 I also broke.

When I have a panic attack my hands begin to clench into small balls, my nails digging into my palms as I lose all control in the movement of my arms. This was my warning sign in the race. I had been close to panicking and crying the entire way around but the physical exhaustion at this point meant that I had too many battles to fight. I was about to lose it and with my breathing already so laboured I either stopped now and recovered enough to finish the race, or I continued and risked literally collapsing.

I really didn’t want to stop. I had told myself beforehand that I’d run all of the way around. The time wasn’t as important to me as that; for some reason stopping was a failure. But I knew myself and I knew my body. I had to or I risked not being able to complete the race.

So we stopped. Jaime took me to the side and had me sit down to recover. She was fantastic, helped me even though she herself had also just run 11 miles. I couldn’t have done the race without her and with her help we managed to push on. And we ran across the finish line.

I have so many emotions about the Half Marathon, as you can probably see from my retelling of it. Am I proud of myself? I don’t think proud fits. I think I’m in awe. I’ve never been in a position where I’ve pushed myself that hard before. I didn’t realise I could. I could have stopped so many times before then and I didn’t. And when we did I genuinely had no other choice. I can’t believe what I achieved. I am still processing the entire thing, in fact it was so much to take in I spent the entirety of my Monday’s therapy session talking about it.

But it wasn’t just for me; it was for my friend Jaime as well. She’s been with me through the training, the rain and the pain. She helped me across the finish line. She supported me even when she was achieving an amazing feat herself. I get emotional thinking about it and I haven’t seen her since. When I do I am going to give her the biggest hug.


❤ Jaime. You superstar. We also ran it in under our target time, so go us. We did it.



Working 9 – 5…and then some.


If there’s one thing to say about self employment it’s this: the hours suck. Especially at the beginning.

When I set up Jen’s Doggie Den I worked from the moment I woke up until the minute I fell asleep.

Doing what exactly? You didn’t have any customers?

Well, customers don’t just appear at your doorstep without prompting or readily available information. Advertising is a 24-hour job and hard work, especially when you have no idea what you’re doing.

For example; I spent £50 on leaflets and it then took me six hours to distribute them throughout my local town. Whilst doing this I also posted on free forums on Facebook – I had to ‘bump’ my posts once every couple of hours, but that was the only other input I needed.

To this day I have yet to have anyone approach me after ‘receiving that leaflet through my letterbox’, and I have had countless conversations with dog owners over Facebook. Lesson learned; move on.

So, after a year of hard work I soon began to attract customers with little to no effort on my part; Google ‘trusted’ my website (whatever that means) so it would appear higher on search results. Word of Mouth was officially my friend – I was recognised in the hairdressers by someone I didn’t know and had my own little celebrity moment. And it seemed my Facebook page was drawing in all sorts of people, attracted by my daily updates and videos. That has been one of my biggest lessons over the years; social media is key to marketing.

My own success lies in this: every day cute, fluffy dogs trot happily through my front door. I get to spend the entire day playing with them, walking them through the magical English countryside and getting to know their personalities. And we all know that cute animal photos are a big hit on the internet. So, taking advantage of my fluffy companions, and knowing the owners would love seeing pictures of their beloved pooches, I began perfecting my photography skills:


I have worked on my self-confidence enough to say this; I’m not too shabby a photographer. So, with this new business venture, surely that’s the route to follow as well?

Unfortunately, taking photos of inanimate objects that don’t wag their tails or look at you adoringly isn’t nearly as fun – or, importantly, as easy to sell. I mean, it’s a collar; it’s got a pretty pattern on it and it’s well made, what else can I show through this photo? Well, according to Etsy various different things:

Have you tried this angle? What about this one? How about a shot of someone modelling it? And then perhaps something next to it to give a size comparison. Oh, and don’t use a flash, use natural lighting.’ I genuinely didn’t realise taking photos of my products was going to be the equivalent of preparing something for Vogue magazine; filters? Editing? Clever angles? Clearly, all of this is relevant if you want to sell your items. After all, you want to catch the public’s attention and interest, and we are so used to seeing well-polished pictures on social media that there is no place for a shoddy photo.

This leads me back to my main point; time. Not only are you making these products, you are marketing them as well. You are the entire business, the managing director, the workforce, the accountant, the advertiser. It all rests on your shoulders and, whilst this all happens, you need to keep on top of the trends for even half a chance to sell in such a competitive market. But for inspiration you still need time.

I have a hundred ideas. I’m so excited about everything to do with Cubbly’s. But I don’t have enough hours in the day at the moment. When I set up Jen’s Doggie Den I wasn’t in employment, that was my sole project at the time. Now I am working a fulltime job and trying to set up a new, successful business. Help.

On the one hand that’s good; I have money coming in from my other business to fund this one as there’s equipment and supplies to purchase. But, with limited time it means there’s less opportunity to spend on marketing, which I need to draw in new customers. And without those new customers, the business will never be successful. Ultimately: as this new business grows my old business will have to take a back seat. It is just deciding when that is going to happen.

I don’t have the answer to that question. All I can do is take it a day at a time, expand slowly so not to be overwhelmed. And, so far, I have been pretty impressed with my products:


So, this is the stage that I am at: wanting to work full time on Cubbly’s but also needing to be a boring, responsible adult that pays the bills. Ultimately this means that I have to keep working at Jen’s Doggie Den…which lets face it, isn’t a total hardship…


There could be a worse job in life.



Old ways won’t open new doors.

The biggest battle I’m facing on the path to opening my new business is this: confidence.

One moment I feel ready to take on the world with a fierce, determined belief in Cubbly’s; I’ll be a household name, a company that employs hundreds of people with an endless supply of creative designs.

And then suddenly I’m sat alone in my kitchen, staring at my brand new embroidery machine, which has put me in a large amount of debt, thinking, ‘What have I done?’

Before the idea of Cubbly’s began forming in my mind I was happy running a successful doggy daycare business. Jen’s Doggie Den was born out of a necessity to work from home and was helped by my love of the four legged kind that ‘woof’. I’d often thought about how you would expand The Den when I felt the time was right, but the process of that didn’t excite me. I love working with dogs and I get that with what I am currently doing. The only reason to expand would be to increase my income, which doesn’t motivate me.

But something was still missing; I wasn’t satisfied.

I have always been a creative person by nature. I’ve dabbled with drawings, played around with music and even written a novel or two in my spare time. I enjoy the immersion these art forms allow, whilst also offering a sense of accomplishment, something I rarely experience doing anything else. But I am frank enough with myself to know that I am not good enough at any of the above to make enough money as a sole income.

Sewing was always an interest of mine. I’d seen the amazing things people could make, especially animal related treasures that I myself have spent far too much money on. The endless potential of crafting spoke to me, but there was one problem; I’d never even touched a sewing machine before.

I spent an entire year going in and out of shops, asking the kind people at John Lewis various questions and avoiding my mother’s sewing machine in the garage. I never took it out once. It felt like an overwhelming step to take. There was so much to learn, where did I start? There was a barrier to break through and in truth I’m not sure what broke it. One day I decided to retrieve the machine and experiment with some fabric. And once I had started there was no turning back. Everything suddenly felt within my grasp. I was confident, full of joy and excitement. The only thing I needed was materials and a platform to sell from; this was it, I was finally going to do it.

And then my mother’s machine died.

It was deflating, but most of all sad. This machine had been with my mother for a long time and had introduced me to a new craft that I had already grown to love. But once I had ceremoniously placed it back in its casing I realised something. I was going to have to buy a new machine. And not only that, if I wanted to invest in a machine that would last and withstand the usage I planned, it wasn’t going to be cheap either. Alarm bells began to ring and I could feel my pulse racing from anticipation and an anxiety that swelled deep within my stomach. I knew what I had to do, but I also had to believe that one day I could earn that money back and that this business was going to be a success.

Fast forward to the present – I have bought a new sewing machine. Not only that but I have taken the plunge; I am the proud owner of my very own embroidery machine. At this current time I have yet to use it. I keep staring at it from a distance, intimidated and also overwhelmed by the possibilities. The part of me that believes in this venture knows that that machine is key to my success. Personalising seems to be the big seller online with pet accessories. But it had cost so much money.

I see the value of that machine as one thing; belief in myself. I have placed a bet on my success, which for a woman who has suffered with severe anxiety and self confidence issues, is rather spectacular. The part of me that truly thinks this business is going to be a success is far larger and louder than the part that is terrified. Without moving forwards I know I am stuck with a life that, although gets me through day to day, doesn’t truly satisfy me.

I want more out of life and after years of struggling just to start work again, I want to create something that pushes me to my limit and satisfies this growing curiosity inside of me that wants to know; how far can I take this thing?


What’s in a name?

Deciding on an identity for your business can seem like a daunting task…no, it is a daunting task. So it’s something I have personally been avoiding. But before I get into that let’s talk a little about what I hope to achieve here.

My dream? To set up a successful, online shop selling handmade pet accessories.

How do I define success? If I was feeling conservative I would say earning enough money to pay the bills. If I let my excitement take over, I’m preparing a speech to present on ‘Dragon’s Den’.

Now, this isn’t my first business; I run a small dog daycare affair from home – so I do have some experience with the process. However, that seemed like a far simpler task. I had a service to offer and a set price, simple, done. Not so easy with an online shop that deals with ‘inventory’ and multiple, handmade goods.

A major issue for me is ‘identity’. Depending on the products I plan to sell it changes the shop’s identity completely. So I had to sit down and think properly about what I wanted to supply, what would be cost-effective and, in the long run, what would be the most successful. And, after a couple of months experimenting with ideas, a failed attempt to sell on eBay and performing some customer research, I finally decided on what my shop will sell:

A business that specialises in bespoke, handmade products for pets.

The problem I found with eBay is that there are items being sold at prices I wouldn’t be able to match. I needed to step away from the mass production market and market my items as ‘handmade, individual’, and that no two are the same. This has already ruled out a lot of online platforms, but introduced me to the likes of Etsy. So, now, I finally felt I was ready to start.

Well, maybe once I’d thought of a name.

This headache is one I am glad I am finally over. I thought I’d found the perfect brand name with ‘The Cassie Collection’. Named after my loyal companion and best friend, it was close to my heart and had a nice tone to it. I even went as far as to design a logo and banner.



But it wasn’t to be – the name was too long. Thinking of business cards, words on the sides of vans (as I said, I have wild dreams), it just didn’t seem to sit well. I had set up an Etsy shop by this point, a Facebook page and even an Instagram account. I deleted them all. I’d spent hours designing the logo and all of that time felt wasted, I was furious with myself.

This resulted in weeks of frustration and poor follow-up names, ‘Trendy Tails’ being one of them. And it was only down to the genius of my wonderful fiance James that the pain would come to an end. We were driving up to Skye in what must have been hour number nine and we were discussing the name for my business. Ideas flew about the car as we talked about how some companies had names that didn’t truly seem to make much sense (Argos, Etsy, Amazon). They were probably all named that way for a reason, but those reasons weren’t obvious.

We then moved onto how some businesses were named after surnames of their founders; Sainsbury’s and apparently B&Q  – the latter I learnt from the radio the other day. So James picked up on my mother’s maiden name, ‘Cubberley’. It was long, but as a word it is lovely. Perhaps if we shortened it? A quick, excited phone call to my dad and he suggests ‘spelling it like cuddly, but with b’s’. I tried it out; it seemed to work!


It doesn’t mean anything to anyone who doesn’t know me, but it also sounds cute and is easy to say. There is a deeper meaning there and it sounds good with other words like ‘Cubbly toys’ or ‘Cubbly collars’. All in all…it works.

It doesn’t mean anything to anyone who doesn’t know me, but it also sounds cute and is easy to say. There is a deeper meaning there and it sounds good with other words like ‘Cubbly toys’ or ‘Cubbly collars’. All in all…it works.

So that’s the name. That’s the name that hopefully will become well known in years to come. Who knows? I am very excited about this new adventure especially as it means I get to exercise my creativity again. And with the help and support of my family and friends I’m hoping for it to be a success – maybe starting off with paying the bills? And then we’ll see how far my dream actually takes me.


(The logo is a work in progress!)