We chat to Serena Everton, founder of LEADTHEWALK.COM and new resident contributor, bringing you the latest street style for your four legged friend.
For our readers who aren’t familiar with Leadthewalk.com, can you tell them a little bit about the site?
LEADTHEWALK.COM brings together the best emerging and established dog accessory brands from across the globe, offering a curated mix of petwear for fashion hounds and their style conscious dog owner. Whether it’s a hip dog bandana from Australia, a perfectly formed dog coat from France to a luxury leather collar from Italy, LEAD THE WALK showcases dog clothing and accessories that will feel good, look good and last.
You have a background in fashion and eCommerce, what was the inspiration behind setting up LEADTHEWALK.COM?
Inspiration came from initial frustration. Frustration with the lack of choice, quality and service I found when I was looking to purchase items for my dog Frankie. All these factors are the norm in the best fashion and ecommerce businesses so I wanted to offer dog owners the same quality shopping experience they enjoy when making purchases for themselves. For us, that means high quality in everything we do from product selection, photography, customer service right down to the beautifully wrapped packages we deliver to our customers.
You have worked with some great brands in the past such as Jimmy Choo and Joseph. Who are your favourites of the dog world?
If we don’t love a brand (or it doesn’t get Frankie’s paw of approval), then we don’t work with them – it’s that simple. We select on trends, quality, finish, design and innovation so if a collection doesn’t meet one or all these criteria, then we won’t try to pass it onto our pack leader customers.
It’s hard for me to choose a favourite, as they are all special in their own way and there’s always a style or brand for every occasion. What’s really important to us is that customers can choose something that is properly suited to their pup.
You are a beloved dog owner and have a French Bulldog. Do you have any top tips for readers who are thinking about getting a dog?
Do your research. Every dog is adorable and loveable so it’s easy to fall in love with them all but you must choose a dog that suits your lifestyle and circumstances. They are all unique but they all need plenty of exercise, discipline and love so make sure you have enough time and patience to give them all three. There are so many abandoned dogs in rescue centres up and down the country in need of a new home so try to adopt if you can. If you decide to go for a puppy, then do your homework and make sure you know where your puppy has come from, insist on seeing your puppy’s mum and be certain they haven’t be breed in a puppy farm.
What are your favourite parks you and Frankie like to walk in?
Victoria Park. It’s right on our doorstep so spend most of our time there. Frankie has made many friends there and it has a great community feel. Frankie also heads up the Victoria Park French Bulldog Meetup Group, which meets every last Sunday of the month. It’s not quite in the same league as the epic London French Bulldog Meetup Group of Regents Park, but it’s friendly and growing every month. There’s Frenchies of all colours, shapes, sizes running, wrestling and vying for attention. It’s a lot of fun!
Can you share any dog friendly restaurants/cafes or even hotels from across the capital?
In comparison to other European cities I can’t say I find London especially dog-friendly. Part of our mission at Leadthewalk is to try to change this for the better.
In the world of doggy lifestyle, are there any trends that our style conscious owners and their barking friends should be looking out for?
It’s all about attention-grabbing if you want to lead the walk! Neon will continue to be big. Bright, bold colours for sweaters and coats and vivid, graphic prints, worn nose to tail. If you like a softer, more folky look, pile on the prints and add some fringing. And if you have a raw edge, don’t miss denim, in any form.
Do you have any grooming top tips/ at home helpers on how to keep your pooch looking pawfect?
I think it’s really important for dogs to feel comfortable and relaxed with grooming. Introduce your dog as early as possible to the basics, brushes, nail clippers, the hair dryer etc. I make sure any products we use are free from chemicals that can affect the skin and scent that can impact on Frankie’s interactions with other dogs. Dog’s have such sensitive noses and scent is a crucial part of how they experience the world around them.
You’ve got a great range of products and brands on the site, how do you go about sourcing such innovative styles?
It’s not easy. I spend a lot of time seeking out the best there is so that means lots of internet and social media digging. International trade shows are great for the bigger brands and technical innovations but it takes a lot of hard work to find the more unique and breed specific styles. I spend at least a couple of hours every day looking for new pieces. My connections in the fashion industry also really helps.
Can you tell us any exciting projects you may be working on?
We are super excited to be the exclusive stockist of Moshiqa in the UK, launching this week. Dog lovers might already be familiar with their products, as the brand is favoured by Miss Asia Kinney (dog to Lady Gaga) so you will often see her sporting their wares on their social media feeds.
Penn + Pooch from L.A and Mr. Strups from Berlin will be joining us for the Autumn. We are also planning an exciting collaboration with a top UK accessories brand but that’s top secret, so you’ll have to watch out for more news on that over the coming months.
Where do you see Leadthewalk.com in five years time?
I’m absolutely determined that as we grow we will continue to deliver the same kind of personalised service that our customers experience today. What we have learned over the last two years is to take things one step at a time.
When you’re not busy working, what do you like to do to unwind?
There’s not much time for that at the moment but that’s where Frankie comes in. Our walks give me the chance to switch off for a while and chat to friends in the park. Sometimes we get to head off to the coast. We both love the beach.
What’s your motto?
I don’t really have a motto, but if I’m feeling a little overwhelmed or apprehensive in a particular situation I will tell myself that ‘life is for the brave’ and have a go.