Paws for thought as pet business launched

Dawn Taylor has launched a business which takes the idea of a personal keepsake charm to a whole new level.

Based near Chepstow, she is capturing paw prints in silver and gold to create luxury keepsakes, helping animal lovers honour their four-legged friends, or give as beautiful gifts.

These silver or gold keepsakes are bespoke to each pet and owners can keep them close to their heart as a necklace, or as a bracelet.

“Our pets are so integral to our lives these days,” said Dawn. “Our charms are an important reminder for their owners.”

Demand is growing both in the UK and, due to Dawn’s network of contacts, overseas as well.

Petite Paw Prints has received the backing of a start-up business loan administered by the Robert Owen Community Banking Fund (ROCBF) based in Newtown, Powys.

Business consultant David Garner said they were delighted to help Dawn get this creative business off the ground with the £9,500 loan.

For Dawn, the venture has evolved out of an interest of the art of fine metal working first nurtured when she was living in Dubai in the UAE more than a decade ago.

“I had a friend out there who was experienced in silver making and he trained me in my spare time. I carried on my learning when I arrived back in the UK as I knew I had found my passion,” she said.

Dawn, who is originally from South Shields near Newcastle, has had a varied and interesting life, which has included working fashion modelling, working in Aviation, HR as well as other entrepreneurial ventures. 

She has also travelled around the world extensively, living for a time in Perth, Western Australia.

But now it is Petite Paw Prints which occupies her time, the business having developed from initially making luxury keepsakes for friends when she realised there was a market for them three years ago.

“I was just making things for friends, personal charms etc. We were going round exhibitions with them and someone asked me if I could do something similar for animals.

“That’s where the idea of Petite Paw Prints first emerged.”

In her studio, Dawn now makes the unusual charms with the help of a machine funded by the SULC loan. The bespoke personal charms go through a carefully crafted design stage before being sent to a Birmingham jewellery workshop to be cast in silver or gold and returned to the studio for the engraving and finishing process,

Dawn said her charms are different to similar products because they are made using a special Lost Wax Casting technique and industry standard materials rather than silver clay.

She explained how the very personal charms can have a healing effect for customers. “One customer’s wife was ill in hospital and he wanted a paw print of their pet made so that she could have something of the special friend their, to help her.”

And the charming paw prints are not just limited to those of cats and dogs. “I’ve made them for rabbits, horses, parrots, a hamster, even a lizard,” explained Dawn.

With interest in the business now expanding to animal crematoria and vets, Dawn’s daughter Lori Taylor Arnold, a marketing and PR professional, is also busy developing the business’s brand.

One of Lori’s key tasks is to now develop the business’s online arm via a website and its growing international profile.

“The goal is for Petite Paw Prints to become the recognised brand in the UK for luxury keepsakes for the animal market.”

ROCBF is one of the bodies charged with delivering Start Up Loans in Wales, and has lent over £1 million to 140 businesses in Wales in just over four years.

SULC is part of a UK Government initiative to stimulate enterprise in Britain, and has provided £230 million of funding to thousands of UK businesses.

The scheme offers loans at 6%, and also free mentoring and advice for 12 months on how to create a business plan, cash flow and other issues faced by new businesses.

David Garner said: “Robert Owen Community Banking Fund was delighted to assist Dawn in getting the business started via the SULC scheme. 

“Many new-start businesses find mainstream business support programmes difficult and time-consuming to access; but the Start Up Loan support through Robert Owen was easy, responsive and met Dawn's business needs quickly.” 

 

@Work - Business Communications