Newcastle Entrepreneur Makes Cute Accessories for Dogs and their Humans from her Garden
Happy Hound Accessories entrepreneur, Ellie Bell, is a role model for young people everywhere, hand-stitching her premium dog (and human) products whilst battling chronic illness
‘We make a very large collection of handmade dog accessories and a manufactured ready-to-wear collection, as well as gifts and clothes for owners,’ says Ellie, reflecting on the rapid growth of Happy Hound’s product range. ‘Anything owners and their pets could want, we make. From bow ties to party hats, the more dog crazy the better it is!’
Dogs have an incredible ability to detect illness and an adorable compulsion to help heal. Suffering with a myriad of debilitating illnesses herself, Ellie is continuously inspired by the kindness of her own happy hound.
‘My cockapoo Daisy is the reason I set up the business. I started a dog daycare business at 19, but my health started to decline and I was eventually diagnosed with something called PoTS [Postural tachycardia syndrome], which meant I was in no position to look after lots of dogs,’ Ellie explains. ‘I got Daisy around that time; I remember wanting to get her something yellow, because her coat is a sable colour [black with greys and creams], but it was so hard to find, and so my mum taught me how to sew up some bandanas for her. Dogs really can sense when you’re poorly,’ she continues. ‘My spaniel in particular is very attentive. I can be lying there at three in the morning, without a sound coming out of me, and she will sense if I’m still wide awake or in pain. She’ll walk right up to the bed and give me a cuddle and settle me down. It’s amazing.
‘I now have over 60,000 followers on Instagram – I don’t even know how it’s happened. I’m blown away. I’m so lucky to have great customers who stick by me, and people helping me from the sidelines,’ Ellie says.
As well as the expected leads, harnesses, and collars, Ellie also designs wearable doggy treat bags, ‘poop loops’, dog party hats for birthday celebrations, and even handmade blankets. Not to mention a range of human accessories, like candles, backpacks, and loads of tees.
‘We make a “Poop Loop”, a loop that hooks around the D-rings on our harnesses. You can use them to attach doggy bags so that you don’t have to carry them around,’ Ellie continues. ‘It was just about the dogs for so long, but then we branched out into clothing. It became so popular, it added something for the owners and it’s spiralled since then. I make dog blankets, but they’re so popular I physically can’t make enough,’ she says.
‘The support from my customers keeps me getting up every morning and motivates me to keep things fun and happy’
Ellie’s mum joined the team in an effort to help her meet the demand for her accessories, as illness-induced fatigue has put added strain on her ability to stitch large quantities. Despite this, Ellie works hard both in the studio and online to share her passion with others.
‘I suffered so long with my illnesses. I was called a skiver and all sorts at school. It was scary because I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I didn’t have anybody talking about these illnesses, as well as struggling with mental health issues,’ she reflects. ‘There’s so many people not talking about it, and so when my specialist suggested I use a wheelchair to give me the confidence to go outside without fainting, I decided to post a picture of it on Instagram. So many people messaged me with support, saying that it made them feel better about their issues. There wasn’t any stigma about a 20-odd-year-old in a wheelchair,’ she goes on. ‘With my illness one day is a great day and the next day you’re stuck in bed. It’s so important having people there who understand that, and my customers know that I’m honest – they can message me if they are having a bad day and having that customer community has been so important. The support from my customers keeps me getting up every morning and motivates me to keep things fun and happy.’