Q&A WITH GEORGIA HAVEKOTTE – FOUNDER AND DESIGNER
What inspired you to start your business? How did you go about it?
I’m a fashion and textile designer by trade but I’ve always wanted to build something for myself. After adopting our rescue dog Checkers, I struggled to find pet products that fit with my personal aesthetic and suited our home. So I decided to bridge the gap and create my own range of fun and functional products for the modern pet lover. We launched Nice Digs after a successful crowd funding campaign but it had been a passion project of mine for some time before that. Our brand was based on the principles of simple, contemporary designs that would compliment our customers’ lifestyle and homes, along with a strong commitment to handcrafted, locally made goods.
Was there a turning point when you knew you were onto a good thing?
In the lead up to our first design market in 2015, we wanted to create a range of accessories that had a strong, graphic impact, and that would compliment our digitally printed bedding range. The painted accessories were an overwhelming success with our customers and we have never looked back. Since then we have had a few ‘pat on the back’ moments that have affirmed our brand’s direction. We’ve been featured on Design Milk, The Oprah Magazine, Apartment Therapy and Real Living Magazine. We were also recently included in a Year of the Dog pop-up shop with the leading US retailer, Nordstrom.
What do you find to be the most rewarding part of your business?
I love how creative I can be within the field and there are so many fun and inspiring dog lovers out there to share it with. Also seeing our products with our furry customers is always a thrill! I’ll never get bored of receiving our customers’ submissions. They’re just so bloody cute!
What sort of person buys your products?
People who absolutely love their pets and appreciate good, unique design.
What makes your product different? Why do you think it has succeeded?
We encourage pet owners to start thinking about the items they buy for their pets in the same way they would buy something for themselves or their homes. Our customers seek out cool products that a locally made – why wouldn’t they want the same for their furry friend?
Our collars and leashes are hand-painted and studded in our studio in the Dandenong Ranges using high-quality, Australian-regulated vegetable tanned leather. This leather is chemical free and tanned naturally using tannins found in different vegetable matter, such as tree bark, wood and leaves. It’s a very strong and durable leather, and our customers love the way the colour naturally darkens and patinas over time. Maintaining the handcrafted nature of our pieces is so important to us; this is our point of difference from the mass-produced pet products, and it is what connects us with our customers and retailers.
Have you identified any design and/or business trends you have had to address in the last year?
Last year we released our crushed velvet bed and accessories range, which we had a really strong response to. Velvet was a key trend last year and is continuing to be a popular fabrication for homewares and lifestyle products alike. We’ll be introducing some fresh new colours for our next collection, which will work back nicely with our printed range.