Friday, May 18, 2007

2 Hounds Design

Meet Alisha Navarro, the owner of 2 Hounds Design, a company which makes designer dog collars and leashes using silk fabric, batik prints, handloomed silk, and jacquard ribbon from all over the world. She specializes in Martingale Collars for larger breeds, but offer collars for all breeds and sizes. Here Alisha shares her company history, business challenges, and helpful tips.

Typical Customers
“Most of my customers have sighthounds (ie, Greyhounds, Whippets, Italian Greyhounds, etc) but I am finding a growing market of martingale collar customers because trainers so often recommend them. My customers usually work with adoption groups or breed rescue organizations, but do not fit easily into age or gender categories.”

From Engineer to Business Owner
“ I quit my “real” job as an Engineer just over 3 years ago and I work more hours and I work harder than I EVER worked at my “real” job, but I love what I do and never regret my decision [to make 2 Hounds Design my full-time job.]”

How Her Education Helped in Her Business
“Oddly enough, I have a Master’s Degree in Applied Physics. ..I have a very analytical brain. I still use these skills even though I no longer work in any of these fields. My research background combined with my insane need to know everything (HA!) is what helps me find new sources for fabric, ribbons, etc. I have also used my programming background to help me design and update my own website, which helped tremendously in the beginning because I didn’t have to pay anyone to do these things for me.”

Hiring Her Employees

“I [currently] have 4 employees. I hired my first employee to help me build inventory for shows, she sewed at home and worked just a few hours/week. I got a huge wholesale order one week, asked if she could come in and work with me in my workroom and she started working more hours because business never slowed down after that. I have since added 3 other employees.”

Encountering Challenges

“The stress! I stress every day about whether my orders are shipping fast enough (custom work takes time) or whether my website is updated often enough. You name it, I stress about it. I find that I am one of those people that can’t get anything done unless there is a deadline. The more I have to do, the more I get done.”

Best and “Worst” of Show

“My best AND worst show experiences are actually the same place. There is a huge greyhound gathering in Dewey Beach, DE…The first year I went, my space in the tent was LITERALLY under 6 inches of water. My husband built a bridge for my customers because they couldn’t even get to my table." (See pix below)

“The event turned out great, we sold a lot of collars and people smiled and used our bridge and we all called it the “boardwalk” and had a great time.”

Unsolicited Press, Good Press
“So far, all of the press I have gotten was unsolicited. Country Living magazine contacted me last year and asked me to send collars, I did but honestly didn’t think anything would come of it, but I was in the October issue of the magazine. I have also been in Skirt! Magazine (with my hounds! ) and the Charlotte Observer. I am planning to start doing press releases this year and I am keeping my fingers crossed!”

“I am inspired by the things around me. Sometimes a costume in a movie will inspire me, sometimes a picture in a magazine will grab my attention.”

Mentors-Good People Who Do Good Things
“My mentors are people who do good things for other people. I love what Oprah has done for the country with her charities and starting the book club to get more people reading.”

Recommended Business Sources
The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber is an ABSOLUTE must for any business! I learned so much and it caused me to take a totally different approach to my business and my personal life has improved greatly.”

Words of Advice – Blood, Sweat and Tears
“Don’t give up! It takes patience, sweat, tears, and even blood to get a business of the ground but it is SO worth it!”


Alisha Navarro
2 Hounds Design
Phone Number: 704-283-1547

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