VINALHAVEN — When Vinalhaven’s An Hanna was searching for collars for the sight hounds she raises, she looked for the best, highest quality collar possible that looked good and would keep the dogs safe. Unable to find collars that dazzled her, she opted to create her own collars now sold through her online Etsy store, The Royal Hound, which boasts handmade martingale collars.
“I've always had an attention to detail but wasn’t sure [the collars] would be appreciated by others,” she said of her initial introduction to selling on Etsy. “Within the first few sales, I came to realize I wasn't alone. Many sight hound owners want the best for their companions just as I do.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting countless small and micro businesses around the nation, Hanna reported she has seen more demand than ever before after originally seeing a slight slow down amid the pandemic’s outset.
“I hope that means many more owners are spending that much more time with their beloved pets,” Hanna commented.
Her collar business has been successful, namely, in the fact she has reached customers in every state plus around the world including Canada, Australia, Poland and the Netherlands.
Customers, generally, prefer bright and colorful colors, which Hanna noted is pleasing as she views the tendency as a reflection of customers seeking brightness amid the pandemic’s darkness.
Each of Hanna’s collars vary in the time spent crafting the piece as each poses its own unique challenges and requires search, research, experimentation and confirmation phases, while also ensuring each stitch is perfect.
The process of creating a collar begins as Hanna searches and selects the right fabrics, day and night, and envisions the fabric in her product.
“[The fabric] has to be aesthetically pleasing to start, but beyond that it has to meet my standards for quality, durability and safety,” said Hanna. “Most don't make the cut, but once I've found one that has, the real fun begins to create my next product out of it.”
After the fabric has been selected, a prototype is designed where remaining issues with usability or practicality of the fabric or webbing will be revealed.
Once she has assembled the product, and is confident each potential customer will be pleased with the outcome, she takes several photos of the collar with the perfect lightning to later be uploaded to her Etsy page.
“It is important to me that my customers see exactly what they’re buying and have confidence they'll be getting exactly (or better) than what appears online,” said Hanna. “Each collar is packaged as if it was a personal gift and shipped as quickly as possible. I agonize over any wait between order and receipt and do my best to minimize that wait for my customers.”
The most rewarding aspect of owning her own Etsy store, Hanna said, is hearing many stories of her happy customers, along with the flexibility the business provides her to set her own hours and spend precious time with her dogs on long walks throughout the day, while also allowing her to express her creativity.
“Ostensibly, I am a for-profit Etsy shop selling martingale collars for sight hounds,” she said. “Practically though, I am using my passion, creativity and time spent on the love for my dogs as a way to spread it to thousands of others across the world.”