Our Wholesale Manager, Bea Witcomb, catches up with one of our newest retail partners, Albert (a large CavaPoo) and Dominic, at Albert’s Dog Grooming and Care in the heart of London’s ‘Eden of the East’ – Walthamstow, to find out a little more about what inspired him to open up Albert’s.
When did you start your business and what inspired you to open up your grooming, day care and shop, Albert’s?
We were really excited to open at the end of April and it has been the culmination of lots of different life events, a love of dogs that have been part of my life as long as I can remember and a desire to own my own business. I’d worked as part of the family business in glass recycling which then moved up North to Scunthorpe – not the easiest commute. Albert arrived about 4 years ago and instantly became part of our family. Then our daughter Beatrice came along (BeaBea to her friends) and the reasons to refocus our lives around London became more essential. In 2017 we lost my Mum, Mary, but as with everything, from something very tough came something lovely. So Pat (my brother in law) and I (in consultation with Albert!) decided to seize the moment and create Albert’s Dog Grooming and Care.
I wanted to have a dog grooming and daycare spot in a community that loves dogs as much as we do. The forests and marshes around us here also mean that there are lots of breeds with differing needs. Being local, I knew we were missing this so it felt like a great opportunity. After 9 months of looking, we found the shop through the council, and that was it. I was also keen to bring more access and understanding of dogs and their care to people who maybe haven’t had dogs as part of their lives as much as I have, so being able to do that here is vital to us.
What do you enjoy the most about running Albert’s?
Well, the commute is better than the A1 and M11! Albert and I walk to work together through the marshes every day - that’s great. It’s just great being such a part of the dog-loving community here in Walthamstow. When it comes to the Grooming side of what we do, which some dogs might find quite stressful, I think the dogs appreciate how calm I am and that puts them at ease really quickly, and that’s really important to me. We believe that the grooming has to be both dog and owner focused. We know how different every dog is and our groom should allow each dog to fully express its own unique character, and still be practical for the owner. We wanted to have a really contemporary approach from making sure the booking is as easy and slick as possible to the approach that grooming and care doesn’t always have to be about pink bows and perfume. Apart from that I also really like being able to run and shape the business and having the sourcing and retail side is also really interesting and exciting, which is how I came across Hiro+Wolf.
Where are your favourite dog-friendly places to hang out in Walthamstow?
The Marshes, Lloyd Park and Hollow Pond are brilliant. There’s a great resource Waltham Forest 4 Dogs that lists all the local dog friendly places which are worth having a look at for locals or visitors to the area alike. We also like Today Bread for a coffee (that’s when the Café Lead comes in handy) Sodo Pizza and of course Walthamstow Village.
Why did you choose Hiro + Wolf for your store?
I really love the products, they stand out and they’re really different, you don’t really see this type of range anywhere else. We only have 3 brands here and they’re perfect for the different customers around Walthamstow, but as soon as I saw Hiro + Wolf I knew it was right for us.
Can you share any particular skills that Albert has with us?
He’s got the most amazing knack of finding random tennis balls, even if they're only fragments of what was once a tennis ball – he’s obsessed! Does that count?
So what are your plans for the future at Albert’s?
Well we’re really busy on the grooming side and that’s really exciting and it feels like we’re already meeting a real need, which our customers tell us all the time. So it would be great in the future to look at another place where we could do the same thing, not necessarily in London. The other thing that we’re really passionate about is the community side – Helping to break down any barriers or fears that anyone might have about dogs to bring education and awareness to people or kids who might not have grown up around dogs. That feels really positive and important and it’s also a great way to meet new people in and around Walthamstow.
Thanks Dom and Albert! Welcome to the Pack!