Continued from Part 1 – pet-themed greeting cards and gift lines are hot paw-perty for publishers, and in turn retailers, believes Gale Astley, who has spent many ‘human’ years in the greetings industry!
It was puppy love at first sight for Wendy Jones Blackett, director of the eponymous company, whose family has grown during the pandemic with a new four-legged addition. “Flora the Golden Retriever puppy was our lockdown addition (we already had Whiskey the German Shepherd) and, despite being a lot of extra work during the first few months, she was a welcome distraction from ’the news’ and also inspired a card of her own! She does interrupt my design flow at times when I’m working from home, forcing cuddly toys onto my lap when I’m at the computer, but who can resist a face like that? Our best lockdown purchase!” states Wendy. “However, unfortunately the two dogs are far too large to even consider taking to the office! Our building is a bit like Hogwarts, lots of small rooms leading into each other with precariously balanced hand-painted cards drying in racks – just the slightest tail-wag and the entire lot would be toppled! – so the dogs stay at home.”
Above: Wendy Jones Blackett pooch Flora – before and after. Beautiful Flora was the inspiration for this Wendy Jones-Blackett card design.
Jo Hawkins, director of Apple & Clover, would love a cat or dog, but being allergic to both means her pet options are limited. “When lockdown hit, like many households, our family craved comfort from a furry friend and Bob the hamster was our lockdown pet purchase,” says Jo. “He’s cute, cuddly and easy-peasy to look after. Sometimes I let Bob out for a cheeky run around in the studio followed by a quick cuddle to brighten up my day. He’s not featured in any of my card designs yet, but with such an adorable face I’m sure it won’t be long before he makes an appearance.”
Pictured top: An adorable Apple & Clover Stripes Ahoy Anniversary design.
And so, what are the plus points of publishers’ pets at work?
“There has always been a dog/dogs at the Little Dog Laughed office throughout its 22-plus years, all have had different personalities. The current furry one is Chester aka Nugget aka Cheznuts. He is a quirky little rescue and as an office dog he is brilliant,” says Gavin Smith, MD for the gift and card company, who explains his hound’s day-to-day routine, which he says is much like Groundhog Day:
“Cheznuts arrives at 8am most days and immediately proceeds to the dispatch room to say his good mornings, moving on to greet each member of the team individually to get his pats and rubs. With all rubs completed, he proceeds upstairs to his office (under my desk). He gives me a volley of little barks signalling he is ready for his breakfast. Once fed and watered he retires to his basket to sleep it off. If our doorbell rings he will jump out of his basket and stand at the top of the stairs where he can get a full view of who is in reception. A couple of ‘I’m just letting you know I am here’ barks and then it’s back to the basket.
12.25pm sees him make a move downstairs again as they lunch at 12.30, returning to his office 10 mins or so later licking his lips and reminding me it’s time for a walk. We are lucky to have a lovely park and river within two minutes of the office, and that break from the computer screens is always welcomed and I would say necessary to help clear the mind.
It’s really easy to see the benefits Cheznuts brings to the place. It was very noticeable when we all returned from lockdown that everybody had missed being at work with each other but had definitely missed the Cheznuts more.”
Little Dog Laughed’s office dog, Cheznuts.
Jane Crowther, director of Bug Art has ‘hired’ a couple of office helpers who hop into action with a swift dart of a cotton-tail. She explains: “The Bug Art studio is based in my home extension, so my two house rabbits come downstairs and ‘work’ for us during the daytime. They busy themselves in the morning with paper shredding, quality control, dispatch and IT, with a particular interest in wiring. In the afternoons, they have a well-earned rest, unless there’s an important meeting in which case they’ll wake up and decide to shred some cardboard… very loudly.
But from cardboard chewing to a crucial point. Highlighting a significant issue, as a trustee of an animal rescue, Jane adds, “In lockdown I heard a lot about people buying more pets. Images with animals and cats on have always been very popular for Bug Art, however, I’m hoping the British love for their pets remains long after lockdown.”
Absolutely! We couldn’t agree more. A pet isn’t temporary, it’s fur-ever.
Below: Truffle, in his ‘Health and Safety’ capacity, overseeing Jane tucking away a stray wire under her desk. With bountiful ears, Binky Bunny on a card from Bug Art.
Read Part 1 of Gales’ article here