So you'd like to know about us, huh?
First up, who is 'Us'?
I'm Kirstie, a 24-year-old gal living in the beautiful country that is New Zealand. I've been working office jobs since high-school, attempting to find my passion.
Myself and Otis Enjoying a Beautiful Winter's Day Together
Back in 2017, my partner and I travelled to a place I had always dreamed of visiting - Japan. I totally fell in love with the country and we've even been back since that trip, but I digress.
While exploring in Tokyo, my partner and I stumbled upon a place I didn't know was a thing before encountering it - a dog friendly mall for dogs. Thats right, a HUGE mall entirely dedicated to dogs. They had EVERYTHING from absolutely stunning apparel shops, a play centre for dogs, cafes for dogs to dine, pet stores with all dog breeds, grooming centres, and shops for dog prams (which were everywhere, you're allowed to bring your dogs into the mall and most were in prams - talk about extra!).
I've never felt this excited about anything. My heart was so full, I had learnt how to ask 'can I pat your dog' in Japanese so I could meet all the dogs. We stayed in this mall for hours as I took everything in squealing like a child in absolute glee that a place like this even existed. WHY don't we have this in NZ?!
Some of the Dogs I Met In the Palette Town Dog Mall
Upon discovering this, I was on the hunt to find more of this amazing, bougie dog apparel world which was what I was most excited about. We went to see Ginza (which is known for very expensive, luxury shopping) and discovered a small store which absolutely stole my heart. Something lit up in me even more than the dog mall.
This shop looked like Louis Vuitton for dogs. STUNNING decor and the most well crafted dog clothes I'd ever laid eyes on. On the verge of tears, I knew I had to purchase something from this store which had sparked such a MASSIVE passion in me! I wish I could share pictures of it but alas, no cameras were allowed in this high end apparel store.
I ended up buying two coats from this shop for Gucci, my partner's late shih-tzu (which were a whopping $80.00 NZD each I might add!). I'll put some shots of Gucci in the coats below, as well as some more recent pics of Otis in them (If you have a problem with boy dogs wearing pink, trigger warning lol).
I'd found my passion, I was SO excited to get home and start planning my business, so very inspired by the shops in Japan.
I got to creating a brand, I designed and trade-marked a logo, looked into how to really run a business and - panicked. HOW did I think I could run a business making luxury apparel? Who was I to think I had the skills or talent, I didn't even have my own dog. Defeated and overwhelmed with anxiety, I shelved the idea and quietly made lists of ideas and made poorly sewn clothes for Gucci.
The Brand I Originally Designed
Fast forward to 2019, we went back to Japan and back to the stores which first inspired me. Still just as obsessed, I felt almost angry at myself for giving up on this dream and this feeling it created in me. We returned home from our trip in January 2020 (right in time for Covid-19 to hit!) and I felt so much more determination to follow my dreams.
I've gone down countless creative roads, trying as many different things as I could to see if I could make it my full time gig. Nothing felt like when I walked into that dog mall.
Everything I tried I either gave up out of lack of passion or it fizzled out due to lack of time (A little life tip, there is always time, you just have to want to make it). This passion felt different. I just knew I could turn what I was loving into a full-time business, I was just so overwhelmed and anxious. I did however have an endless list of ideas and a constant creative buzz. I was up at night sketching designs. Typing bullet points of things I needed to do. Cutting up all my clothes and experimenting with designs.
This is where our CEO, Otis came in.
Otis is a wee puggy, born November 19th 2019. We adopted our baby the day before we went into lockdown for COVID19. I'd been asking for a pug for quite literally years. Anyone who knows me, knows just how much I love pugs. I receive pug related everything for any present I'm given and I love it. I am that crazy pug person. One of the very first questions I asked my partner when we started dating was 'do you want a dog?' because it was never going to work if the answer to that was no!
My partner, Shaarn, emailed the Pug Club NZ president and discovered she knew someone who had a pug they were thinking about selling. A quick phone-call, a text convo and an hour-long drive to meet our new possible baby.
One of the Best Texts I've Ever Received
There was no way I was leaving without Otis (or 'Cruize', as he was originally named). He was just too gorgeous, he slotted straight into our lives like he just knew he was home. He slept lovingly in my lap the whole way home while I sat and stared at him, my beautiful little baby.
What? People want to buy this here? Who even makes clothes for dogs in NZ though?
Turns out, a lot of people! After finding and researching countless dog apparel businesses, making so many incredible friends in the dog community and in real life, I had to ask myself - why aren't I making and selling these outfits I was having so much fun creating? Why was I letting my anxiety get the best of me?
Just a Small Hand-Full of Some of the Beautiful Pup Friends We Made!
I researched the absolute heck out of starting, running and owning a business, for real this time. I got serious and believed in myself. I followed every step, read every article, listened to every podcast and audiobook I could, bought every ring-binder and took more notes than probably necessary. I was so sure I could do it and I put everything I could into my new journey.
I'll be honest, it was difficult. With a full time job, Otis' Instagram account to run, a puppy to care for, a Fashion and Design course to study for, a global pandemic with New Zealand in lockdown and a life with normal responsibilities to keep up with, there were times I wanted to cry. Times I did cry. It was difficult, extremely time consuming, intensely frustrating at times and yet so very rewarding. More exciting than I can even begin to explain. This is my passion.
Truly, dog clothing, as oddly specific as it sounds, is my passion. There isn't anything else I'd rather spend my time doing. That reason alone is how this page exists, OtiBoaty Boutique is running and how I can say I own my own business, despite everything.