holly and teddy maximus the miniature dachshund
Holly launched her amazing dog accessory brand after getting her amazing pup!
Words: Simon Glazin Pictures: Richard Hanson
Launching your own brand is a risky business. How do you make it a success? How do you get people to buy your products? What happens if it all goes wrong? But Holly Simpson was so determined that she knew she had to take the risks, and they pulled off.
Teddy Maximus launched last year with an edited collection of dog beds, collars and leads, carriers and oh-so-cute bow ties, all made in the U.K and designed by Holly. The whole brand was inspired by Teddy Maximus, Holly's adorable blonde miniature Dachshund. And, according to Holly, nothing goes into production without the nod or wag of the trail from Teddy.
Working in lifestyle PR before launching her brand, Holly had a clear indication what works and what doesn't, and what would be interesting for the press to feature. But that doesn't equal business know-how. That is, as Holly explains, learnt on the job. She spent every evening after work researching and learning and exploring different manufacturers, fabrics, hardwear and techniques. She taught herself, with the help from her business-minded boyfriend, how to balance the books, how to work with suppliers and how to sell-in her brand.
Now, Holly has the manufacturing down pat, sales are growing, a lovely Liberty print fabric has been introduced and you're likely to see Teddy Maximus - the brand and the dog - on the pages of the Evening Standard and Vogue.
Holly's bubbly personality is infectious. You can't help but smile in her company, with her enthusiasm for everything and go-getter attitude. Oh, and with Teddy by her side they make quite the team! Scroll down to hear some sound career advice from Holly, and her love of being a dog owner.
On Teddy: He's fun, crazy and always entertaining! Teddy Maximus was inspired by my dog Teddy – and that’s why we say we are all about fun, luxury British style as for me he is a dog of distinction. He knows what he wants and has discerning taste – he even helped model our latest collections, from our carriers to the beds. I think he has a few favourites, especially the bow ties.
Being a dog owner I’ve met some great people I wouldn’t have otherwise and it gives you a great excuse to get outdoors and explore – as well as the simple pleasure of walking. It also owner requires huge commitment but in return unconditional love. There’s nothing like coming back to an excited wagging tail! He has learnt to tap me on the shoulder or the foot if he wants something!
On Launching Teddy Maximum (the brand): In life you have to take risks. Teddy Maximus has allowed me to exercise my creative instincts and to learn the art of really listening. I love people (as well as dogs). For me it’s key to surround yourself with people who really believe in what you are doing, have a passion for your vision and can help you bring that to life. I’m lucky that I have some great friends who have supported me along this journey.
But it’s not all plain sailing, you of course learn by doing and falling over, but then you have to get back up again…and that’s the hard part. As Steve Jobs said: “You have to have a lot of passion for what you are doing because it is so hard…if you don’t, any rational person would give up!”
I was inspired by being a new dog owner. I wanted to find something that had longevity, style and heritage. I couldn’t find anything that fitted into my lifestyle and I was also hearing this a lot from other people too.
All our products are made in England by talented people who love and care about their craft. We source beautiful leather for our leads that really smells like beautiful leather. We source our brass fittings from one of the last foundries in England. Last week I went and chose the leather for the carrier straps and watched them being cut.
You know when you walk into a beautiful shop and you see THAT handbag or THE perfect accessory for a newly decorated room, I wanted that feeling when I bought dog accessories too. Something special that makes you go ‘ooo’ and ‘aah’ but is still practical. So that’s when I set about creating Teddy Maximus.
On her daily routine: It really varies, but the weekends are probably the most predictable and when I can enjoy spending the most quality time with Teddy. We love a good walk and a farmers market – any excuse to pick up a freshly baked cake! We live in London and enjoy meeting up with other dog friends in the park – Richmond Park is great. We have a new device called a Pitpat which tracks your dog’s activity, so that’s fun, you can see what exercise your dog's had. Teddy also likes to keep my feet warm when I’m typing away on the laptop, because there are always lots of emails to catch up on and work to do, always go, go, go! It’s about finding a balance though – just about getting there!
On career advice: For anyone starting their own business, never under estimate how much hard work it is. First and foremost it has to be a passion, you have to work out your sums and you need to plan and then…plan again. Things will constantly change, you need to be ready and willing to adapt. Be prepared to take the rough with the smooth. And, remember to always be thankful for your friends and family, because they’ll keep you smiling, they’ll be helping you with the heavy lifting (literally) and they’ll also be your greatest supporters.
On the breed of dog Holly would be and why: On top of being a Dachshund (because you can get way with being incredibly cheeky), it would have to be the Queen’s corgi – I’d love to see what goes on behind the scenes at Buckingham Palace and I’m sure I’d be well fed!
I also read the other day that Salukis hold the world record as being the fastest dog – being able to run at up to 40mph would be amazing, like flying through the air!
On who would play Holly in a movie: Oooh Interesting question! Never been asked that! Life is indeed like one long movie, with so many different twists and turns. For that reason I’d say Alice in Wonderland, if that counts! That’s probably who I’d like to play rather than the other way around!
Shop Holly's favourites here...