Neil runs Dug and Bitch, a family-run business that creates handmade pet grooming products ranging from dog shampoo to dog fragrances and dog paw balms. We speak to him about his small family business and how it all began.
Hi Neil, could you please introduce yourself to our readers?
“I have always had the desire to create and work with my hands, the process of turning raw materials in to something of beauty, something individual and unique, creativity drives my thoughts, says Neil Robson when we speak to him about his brand Dug and Bitch.
After undertaking a degree in applied and fine arts, Neil trained as a goldsmith and practiced his trade in the Edinburgh jewellery quarter, working with individual clients to design and craft unique bespoke creations. Today, he runs Dug and Bitch with his family describing himself and his loveable organic range of dog care products as a little eccentric and eclectic.
You have drafted help from Elizabeth, so Dug and Bitch is truly a family business. Tell me more about your set up in the beautiful Scottish mountains?
We always say to our clients that we are a family business, it is something that we are very proud of, working with family may sound like a challenge, although all the family are involved in some way whether it be my unpaid Guinea pigs testing new products to helping with large orders my mother Elizabeth is involved daily, thankfully she is terribly eccentric and it is her influence that encourages me always to indulge my creativity and forget convention.
More recently my great niece who is four has been assisting me and I have appointed her as creative director (to which we even made a badge), fascinated with all the ingredients as I develop new products for the range, it is wonderful to spend time with her and listen to her limitless imagination and I hope will be the next generation to join the family business.
We are so fortunate to be able to have our family home and workshop in the beautiful Scottish borders in the small hamlet of Traquair, the best part is my morning commute, only 6 steps from the house to our newly completed workshop (well, sometimes seven if there is a passing hedgehog), overlooking the historical Traquair estate, river Tweed and surrounded by the Minchmoor hills.
You create an exceptional range of handmade pet grooming products using surprising ingredients like gold. What inspires you?
Well some would say moments of madness, I decided early in forming the business that I would not be driven by existing products on the market, but wanted to do something completely different. I did not want to create just another range of uninspiring dog products.
So, I decided just to challenge convention and let my imagination take over. I wanted to create novel products that are not only beneficial but allow you to have a shared experience with your perfect hairy four legged friend.
To be honest and say it has been a very difficult journey. Being told that what we do is outrageous, but when I get asked what you’ve just asked me, I simply smile and say “thank you that’s exactly what we do”.
How does Dug and Bitch look like behind the scenes?
On entering the workshop for our handmade pet grooming products it is like a pleasant assault to the senses. You are engulfed in the rich scents of essential oils, rich vegetable butters and floral waters. It is a great place to just go, close your eyes and let the scents take you away.
All the ingredients in our products are the best we can source. Before forming the company, I embarked on a six month journey though the UK and Europe. I found suppliers that I could trust and that could guarantee organic, natural and most importantly ethically sourced raw materials. As a result, we now source our raw materials from over 14 countries; lavender from the UK to our Shea butter from Ghana.
And all these worldly ingredients come together in our Scottish workshop. Here we do all manufacturing, bottling and labelling of our products by hand.
And finally… If a dog owner walked up to you asking for your advice on how to pamper their pooch. And you only had a few minutes to give them your best tip. What would it be?
Oh well. I will take my inspiration from Libby our family dog. That’s kisses every morning and a coconut oil paw massage every evening.
Thank you very much for talking to us Neil. We really look forward to new ideas from Dug and Bitch. To shop Dug and Bitch’s handmade pet grooming products, see their products here.