Who are you? What do you do? What makes Dapper Pupper special?
Hi! I'm Wanissa. I'm a freelance designer based in North Melbourne. I recently launched a brand called Dapper Pupper. I create custom bandanas for dogs as well as custom pet portraits. There are a few dog bandana businesses around, but it's rare to find one that features personalisation through hand-painted lettering.
What did your business look like before COVID 19 and how has that changed?
Pre-pandemic, I was creating commercial artwork for businesses. I lost most jobs due to restrictions limiting me from delivering work in public spaces. However, this involuntary halt has helped me reevaluate my priorities. It gave me a much-need mental break from the design business I've been operating for the last 5 years. I had the time and space to explore my creative freedom and start a new project based on the things I love the most: dogs, lettering and illustration.
Who is on the Dapper Pupper team?
Dapper Pupper is a one-woman show! I have, however, received a tremendous amount of support from my family and friends. It was my sister Warisa (IG @warisas) who taught me how to sew earlier this year. My amazing friend Sai Chalermsan (IG @apointintime.art) helped me massively with the photography of Waffles (the little Jack Russell/Dachshund rescue who models for Dapper Pupper). My partner Roberto, who runs Zen Wonders Tea(IG @zenwonderstea) has been giving me tremendous moral support.
Are there any apps or technology that help you run your business?
I'm currently using (and loving) Shopify for my website. For marketing, I mainly use Instagram & Facebook. I run 2 accounts on Instagram, @dapper.pupper and @wanisssa. Both platforms have helped me connect with fellow creatives and small business owners.
...this involuntary halt has helped me reevaluate my priorities.
What has been the most challenging aspect of this time?
The combination of not having much work on and being stuck at home with a lot of time on my hands lead to some pretty difficult moments of self-doubt. Having my income stream significantly effected while facing ever-changing circumstances has also been challenging. I know many freelancers who are in the same boat.
Have there been any 'silver lining' surprises?
Yes, quite a few! In business, the amount of support and interest I've received from Dapper Pupper customers has been truly encouraging. In life, Covid has brought my close friends even closer. My family has never been more connected. Also, being able to evolve through new challenges has been such an empowering experience. This feeling of empowerment is a silver lining on its own.
Covid has brought my close friends even closer. My family has never been more connected
How do you see your business evolving in the future? Are there changes you've made that you will continue with when things go back to 'normal'?
In terms of how the business will evolve, this is hard to say. I'd like to keep responding to new demands. For instance, doing custom pet portraits wasn't part of the plan initially, but there's been a demand for it and I love that I get to draw more.
The thing that's changed the most is probably my mindset. I'm more in touch with my passion, and I'd like to continue this mindset onwards when we go back to "normal".
Are there any business decisions that you have made with sustainability in mind?
Yes! My approach is to use less material to begin with in order to reduce waste. Dapper Pupper is a part of noissue's Eco-Alliance, meaning I wrap my products in sustainable tissue paper, with illustrations printed with soy-based ink to prevent harm to the environment. To minimise waste, all single bandana orders are posted in compostable paper envelopes. I only reach for cardboard boxes for orders over 2 units, which I then pack in compostable mailer bags sealed with biodegradable tape.
Have you collaborated with any other local businesses?
Yes, I've stocked up some vouchers with Ruff Dogs who specialise in goody boxes for first-time dog parents. I've also done several giveaways local Aussie businesses. I'd love to collaborate with more businesses down the track.