Sustainable Start-up Award: Dale Parker (Buddy Bubbles)
When it comes to the overall health and wellbeing of our canine companions, there's no underestimating the importance of grooming. Regular grooming can ensure healthy skin and fur, improve temperament, and reduce the risk of infections, leading to expensive vet bills if left untreated. But the products used on our beloved pets to maintain their glossy and shiny coats are not always dog-friendly. Harsh chemicals and detergents often plague dog shampoos and conditioners, which can strip away natural oils in dog's coats, causing irritation and harm to their skin.
For one North East start-up, Buddy Bubbles, the solution is simple: remove unnecessary chemicals and detergents in favour of natural, homemade and vegan alternatives to dog shampoo and conditioner. Named after a playful Border Collie and Labrador ('Borador') mix called Buddy, Buddy Bubbles are on a mission to create sustainable grooming products that are not only gentle to dogs, but that are kind to the planet too. Using recycled packaging and natural ingredients, Dale Parker, founder of the business and Buddy's owner, hopes that Buddy Bubbles will support dogs across the UK to lead happier, healthier lives while simultaneously eliminating plastic waste produced in product packaging. In the following interview, Dale discusses his inspiration to launch Buddy Bubbles, what it means to be a sustainable business owner, and how PNE Enterprise's Sustainable Start-up Award helped him to kickstart his business journey.
How would you sum up Buddy Bubbles?
Buddy Bubbles is a fun and feel good company that is focused on impacting pets, people and the planet positively with its ecofriendly dog grooming products.
What inspired you to start your business?
I haven't always wanted to start my own business - I could never think of a good idea - but with my previous workplace, I got inspired to try something on my own. I had been brainstorming some ideas in my office whilst running a bath, thinking of products or services I could offer. After a busy session of thinking of some future business options, I headed to the bath to relax after a stressful day.
Upon getting into the bath, Buddy proceeded to try and join me, something which he does on a regular occasion. Suddenly, the idea came to me, Buddy Bubbles Dog Shampoo! I quickly exited the bath and headed back to the office to brainstorm the idea, I was so excited I had finally thought of something which I could turn into a business, something that combined my passions and interests.
What challenges did you experience in turning your idea for a business into a reality?
I think cash flow and time management is a struggle for any new business! Balancing time between my previous job with my side project and personal life was a huge task.
What has been the highlights or successes of starting your own business?
I think the highlight for me has to be my first sale of Buddy Bubble Boxes. I have been sending samples out over the past month, the response has been great. I've loved seeing people posting about the product on Instagram, a platform I use a lot for business. I felt such joy at getting the order, it's such a great feeling watching something you've built up get to the point of making you some money. Not only that, I believe the products and brand provide great value to the dog community.
What impact do you hope the Sustainable Start-up Award will have on your business?
Gaining the Sustainable Start-up Award was huge for me. Getting the funds to gain my safety assessments and insurance has helped me start my business a lot sooner than I would have if I didn't have that funding.
In your opinion, why is it important for businesses to be more sustainable?
We are setting the trends and future for generations to come. If we act now, we can put the systems in place to build a eco-friendlier future. I believe all businesses should have some sort of system in place that enables them to do more for the planet we live on.
Where do you see you and your business in 5 years?
In five years I want to have made a real impact in the pet grooming industry. My mission is to impact one million dogs lives positively by 2028, I guess that means 500,000 by 2023. If we can sell 500,000 bars of dogs' soap by 2023, I'll be halfway to achieving my vision. The products are super nice for dogs' skin, gentle to humans' skin (great for dog groomers or people with allergies!) and the packaging has been designed in a way that is 100% recyclable and reusable.
What is the most important personality trait to have as an entrepreneur and why?
I would just say be yourself. I think it's always good to learn from others who have walked in a similar path, but the best advice I can give is do you. Whatever way you learn, work or go about life, just be yourself and show that in your work.