Paws & Watercolours | Meet Joyce Van Balen-Kleine

Joyce Van Balen-Kleine is mum to a goldfish, two dogs and two cats, and is one fantastic illustrator. We had the pleasure of meeting her recently and we couldn't resist asking her all about her inspiring blog where she portrays her life with husband and pets. Read on as Joyce talks art therapy, love for pets and living with a chronicle illness. 

You are the proud mum to several pets including two dogs, two cats and a gold fish, could you tell us a bit about your life and love for all creatures?

I live with a chronic illness, called chronic paroxysmal hemicrania (CPH), which effect my daily life. Without medication I have about 280 seizures a day, with medication it is reduced to 12 on a good day. The meds are a lifesaver, as well as a destroyer. The adverse effects are quite severe. So not only do I have to live with an abnormal amount of headache 24/7 combined with the seizures, I also face failing kidneys, peptic ulcers, rheumatism, Raynaud's disease especially in my hands and the one that’s constantly nagging; Crohn's disease.
I have learned to live with my illness with the help of the not so great and greatest therapists along the way, my husband, and without a doubt, my furry friends. Oh, dear me, and off course my scaled friend..... he wouldn’t like it if I forgot to mention him.
Sorry Bruce...

What does illustration mean to you? Where did the inspiration to take this activity on originate from?

I never, ever would have survived so many years of only going downhill health wise, if it wasn’t for my furry friends. Last year I got to hear I will never get better, and it all depends on how strong my body is to keep going as strong as I can be, and survive. Which meant I have to rely even stronger on what makes me happy. And that is my husband most importantly, our two English Cocker Spaniels that feel as our babies I could never have, and our two cats and goldfish. My husband once told me in my darkest hour, to focus on what makes me happy, to draw my furry friends, and tell stories of what happens in their lives. And that was the greatest tip in life I could ever receive.

What effect does your art have on your daily life and your health?

Illustrating means the world to me. It keeps me focused on the bright side of life. But it is also keeps reminding me of my ever failing body. When I am in a drawing rush, I stuck a pencil between my teeth, to bite the pain away, because my hand won’t hold the pencil as well as should be. So I have to keep reminding myself, I draw or paint to make myself feel better, meaningful. To keep my mind straight, peaceful and happy. That even though life and people around me, can really make me feel inadequate, hell.....even a burden of life... my drawings keep me sane.

What is your favourite piece of work so far?

My favourite piece of work I haven’t still accomplished. The oil painting of Kuzco at the beach, I hold very dear. Kuzco is my everything, and the beach is what make him and me, extremely happy. My husband made a beautiful frame for it. And it hangs prominent above our couch in the living room. But I still believe my best is yet to come. I am a work in progress.

From our current Hiro + Wolf collection, what would you love to see your pups in next?

When we got the privilege to get a puppy from Kuzco, we went to London a few days before we got baby Malha home. We wanted to buy a stuffed animal just for her, which became Peter Rabbit, after seeing my all-time favourite Beatrix Potter exhibition at the V&A. And we purchased the most beautiful first collar of Hiro and Wolf. We absolutely adored the shop on Columbia Road. We bought a set of Geo Green Dog collar for baby Malha, lead and harness for daddy Kuzco. We really want to have a larger size collar for Malha when she’s outgrown the little one. But we can’t wait to extend the Hiro and Wolf collection with the Kikoy Botanical stripe. So happy and colourful! Just as our little
Read more about Joyce's inspiring life with the pooches on her site, and see her latest drawings on IG @joyce_vbkleine.

LEADERS OF THE PACK | Meet Dolly Pawton & mums


An IG fashion sensation and activist for the LGBTI community in London, Dolly has no dull days. We caught up with the four-legged icon and her two mums, Stella and Lucy, to discuss fame, fashion and fight for equal rights.

Dolly, being one of Instagram's favourite pups and a busy LGBTI community activist, what does a day in your life look like?

A day in my life goes a little like this. My sole purpose of opening my eyes is to greet my baristas in Starbucks were I have a Puppachino and skinny blueberry muffin. Starbucks also doubles as my office. After answering my emails I like to have a stroll to Marylebone village or down to Regents park to hang with my homegirls! After a run, I really get to work, trend research with my Mum, photoshoot planning with my other Mum and LGBTQ campaign talks of how I can spread the word of love. After all my networking, eating, fashion talk, more eating, community work, eating, I head home for a full afternoon of sleep! You don't look this good without some serious Zzzzzzzzz's

Double the trouble or twice as nice, what is it like to have not one, but two mums? 

Having two Mum's is all I have ever known. I have heard that some unfortunate people only have one! I mean how do they cope!? Who would massage your paws when your back was being scratched. My Mum's are full on, high energy and I like that. They have the love they do for me and each other because of all they have been through. They are definitely double the trouble, they taught me well.

What has been the highest point in your activist career?

I have a few things I am more than proud of so far in my activist career. Leading the London Pride march was a highlight. Balloons, love and lots of rainbows all of my favourite things in one space. I was there to march to show our families love and commitment to the LGBTQ community. The atmosphere was electric and the air kisses and cuddles weren't bad either. Buzzfeed featured me and I wore the crown of "the dog that reminds us love is love". That crown hasn't slipped yet. I was so proud. Working with Stonewall, charities and presenting a feature with 'gaystarnews' on National coming out day were all highlights. My work will continue to educate about inclusion, diversity and of course Love.  

Stella & Lucy, your active participation in the LGBT community is remarkable, could you tell us a bit about your journey in the fight for equal rights?

We as Dolly's Mum's have been blessed to have found each other. To have strength in our ability to see past prejudices and gain strength from reaching out to others. We started campaigning more aggressively when we found ourselves in a position of exclusion. We found it implausible that we couldn't be accepted for simply loving each other. When we celebrated our love to each other by getting engaged we decided if we were to be "married" we wished to be actually be "married". We started to raise awareness in the fashion publications we worked with at the time and started a huge social media campaign to get marriage equality passed through parliament.


What has been your personal proudest moment as activists so far?

Our greatest achievement to date is being an integral part of the equality marriage bill, that and surviving. Being who you are can be more than difficult at times when everyone around you wants to be someone else. Dolly's platform has allowed us to reach out to people, be there for them and pave the way for open conversation.


What is yet to be done, and how can we help?

It may sound like a passing phrase but unfortunately there is still so much to be done. We have so many ideas on how the message of inclusion, diversity and love could be taught, shown and brought into the main stream. Bringing the image of family, home and community right onto the twenty first century.  Education is needed, visuality is important and honesty is vital. Educating our youth is something that we are told is the biggest responsibility. We agree but our youths opinions are influenced and taught by the elders. We feel a whole education of love needs to be tailored to roll out to families with the emphasis on keeping our LGBTQ people safe. Visibility is our biggest gripe, there are so many people who have the ability to voice their opinion but don't! Everyone is entitled to live their lives as they wish but in the public eye you have a responsibility to share your views of support. This often gets tangled in fear of judgement, fear of rejection, fear of image. Fear is the biggest controlling factor in staying silent. We must speak freely to break down these walls. Love will always win and we are here to prove it. 

Who is behind the designing of Dolly's outfits? What is her favourite attire these days? 

We have been fortunate to work with some fantastic brands over the last year, with lots of exciting news to follow. Dolly is known for her style and it does help to have a Mum in the fashion industry! She gets styled by a pro so she looks as fresh as canine possible. Fashion Weeks being a huge inspo for Dolly. She models her style on human trend and loves nothing more than to be noticed. 

From Hiro + Wolf's current collection, what are Dolly's favourites?

We love Hiro + Wolf's new collection. Our personal picks are the rocket bandana and lead, the kikoy botanical stripe hound collar (loving the rainbow inspired stripes) and yes my neck is long enough to wear it! The yellow diamond poo pouch is a must have for all your city walking pups like myself. 

Until next time bitches this is Dolly Pawton pawing out xx 




Follow the family's urban adventures around London on IG @DollyPawton 
All images by @DollyPawton 










A free spirit with a passion for wanderlust, Bee's journey to distant lands started long before she sat down with our Co-Founder Amy to create Hiro + Wolf. Read on as she discusses ancient crafts, her South African upbringing and why we should have more support for middle-aged women entrepreneurs. 

You are one of H+W Co-Founders and mum to two dogs, one cat and one very talented human, could you tell us a bit more about yourself and your day to day life?

Growing up in South Africa I was always fascinated with the brightly coloured craft available for sale on street corners. My dad lived and worked in Equatorial Africa and as a child I spent many hours in his study staring at his carvings and paging through his book collection - I always knew I wanted to travel around Africa and craft has enabled me to do this.  

Many years ago before the internet I used to take my son, Conor, to South Africa every year for the long summer holidays.  We had an old Fiat Uno (called Meisie - which means girl in Afrikaans).  In we would climb and off we would go in the search of hidden treasures. Back in the early 90's you could not check out websites or browse through online catalogues, so you just went with your nose. We travelled many miles over dusty. open roads to find either beautifully crafted pieces, or nothing at all. Often we would come across an empty building where a craft group had been based at some point, only to be pointed down another bumpy road to their new location.  Sometimes just finding a place is the adventure.  I have great memories of Conor squashed into the car amid boxes of baskets, beads, carvings and fabric. 

I have always been interested in craft and its ability to uplift both urban and rural communities to a position of sustainability and economic stability. I believe it is very important to preserve the ancient skills of basket weaving, beadwork and wood carving. Unfortunately these skills are now on the decline; economic migration seeing more and more young people move to the cities.  Economic stimulation through craft gives young people the opportunity to stay in their villages to continue with their families' traditional crafts thus keeping communities together. This is a large part of what I work towards.

My days can be very varied - they include anything from following up leads on email to planning mad adventures, to mundane accounts!

Before starting Hiro + Wolf three years ago, what were you doing?

My last job was 'Events Manager' at the Design Museum - I was there for around 4 years.  In 2010 I resigned.  My son was on a gap year and so I decided to return to SA to spend some time with my 89 year old mum. It was hard to leave a secure, well paid and very enjoyable job but equally it was the best decision I ever made!  In November 2010 my mum sadly passed away. I am so glad I had the last year with her. It was good to reconnect after leaving South Africa 30 years prior to follow my dream of living in Europe.

On returning to the UK, I decided not to go back into full time employment.  It was time to turn my 'hobby business' into a serious business. This is where it all began.

What were the challenges that you faced when starting your own business?  

Starting up a business is one big challenge. I would say the overall biggest challenge is financial, as things don't happen overnight and it takes time to get established. In the beginning, the last person to get paid is always you!  Belief in yourself and those around you is very important.

How does the age gap between yourself, in your 50's and our Co-Founder Amy, in her 30's, reflect on your partnership's dynamic?

I think this works to our advantage.  I can sometimes be a little blinkered as to what is new and trending and Amy opens my eyes to this. I bring my knowledge of working for so long in Africa to the table. Amy is a brilliant and fresh designer and I am good at seeking craftspeople to interpret her designs. We really work well together and over the years we have come to know each other's characters - what makes us tick and what tips us over the edge - to the extent that we are now finishing each other's sentences!

Importantly, we do not compete with each other  - our egos never get in the way and I believe the age gap has something to do with this.

Do you think there is enough support for middle-aged women starting their own ventures? 

No, absolutely not! I have always been a bit of a lone wolf so when I did try to seek advice/financial help I found doors to be shut as I was over the age in which you are 'supposed' to start out. There were grants out there to encourage 'young' entrepreneurs but nothing for 'older' entrepreneurs.  This has now changed a little but I think more advice should be available.  Recently I read an article that suggested middle aged women wanting to return to employment dye their hair, rethink their wardrobe and lose weight!  This is not the advice I am after.  It would be great to see more support for older women who are serious about a change and passionate about beginning their own ventures.  Luckily, in the craft industry as a whole, there are a lot of savvy, mature women and I am very proud to consider myself to be one of them.

If you could choose two favourite things from your job, what would they be? 

Travelling to find beautiful things that are made by talented people and passing these beautiful things onto appreciative like-minded folk.

What are your top three spots to visit with the pack at the weekend?

Epping Forrest, Victoria Park and La Bouche Deli on Broadway Market.

From H+W's latest collection, could you share your most-loved pieces with us?

Our collaboration with Dashing Tweeds is one of my all-time favourites. Wolf's current wardrobe includes every piece from this collection, and I love the fact that this fabric is woven in the UK exclusively by Dashing Tweeds. Also, its reflective quality means I can spot Wolfie from a mile away if he's off the lead after dark.

Another favourite is the Shwe Shwe Navy Circles pattern. Shwe Shwe is a traditional South African fabric, so it feels close to home. I love the indigo colour and the smell! Opening a postal parcel of this fabric plunges me right back into the down-town fabric shops of Johannesburg that I used to visit with my mother.

Last but not least, the Kikoy Botanical collection. The acacia yellow leather reminds me of the African sun and the stripy fabric reminds me of wrapping myself in a kikoy after getting out of the warm Indian Ocean on visits to Kenya.

Dashing Tweeds 'Yellow Raver' Collar £36   Kikoy Botanical Bow Tie, £15  Shwe Shwe Navy Collar £30,  


Follow Bee and Amy's journey over on our IG for more travel stories, sneak peeks and woman power.



A few weeks back our Co-founder Bee went on a quick visit to Dubai. She is familiar with the city of skycrapers and endless coastline, but it was the first time she’d heard of walking doggies in the desert. Read on as Bee shares her unique experience at a home for stray hounds in the heart of the Arabian Desert. 

I went to visit my son Conor, who is working as an acrobat in Dubai. And having visited the city quite a few times before, I wanted to do something different. “I know what we can do”, he said. I thought he was going to come up with some youngster activity like sky diving or long boarding, as being a fully fledged stunt man these are the kinds of things he enjoys doing. “We can go walk stray dogs in the desert”! Now this I was up for. Having rescued a very special boy from Egypt myself, the harsh treatments some animals endure is something I’ve experienced first hand, and an issue very close to my heart.



I was not sure what to expect. We drove to a meeting point where we were joined by a convoy of cars heading out into the desert past golden sands and rubbish strewn buildings. After an hour or so, we then turned off the road onto a semi-tarred path, getting stuck in the sand on more than one opportunity before arriving at a low building painted the same colour as the desert. 

We entered a long open tunnel to the sound of many, many barking hounds. After a brief explanation by one of the volunteers we were led to the cages.  My fellow walkers were Conor and his friends Chris and Jo –both Australian, living in Dubai. Other volunteers varied from a French woman climbing the Dubai corporate ladder to some caring locals who just wanted to help.  

Everyone went around the pens individually – all dogs had to be returned back to their original pens. Taking one, or two dogs at a time if you could manage, our team of volunteers walked out into the desert for 7-8 minutes and then back to the shelter – thus ensuring each dog had around 15 minutes exercise. This was repeated until all the dogs had been taken out.

The last dog in my care was a gentle beast named Shylo, it turned into more of a carry than a walk as Shylo was so anxious and frightened he just wanted to be picked up. Quite a few dogs had been so badly treated in the ‘outside world’ that their cage had become a place of safety and they would not come out… instead they just cowered in the corner – this was heart breaking!  Others came out but then refused to walk in fear of not coming back, and then we had those so excited to go on a walk they would leap out of the cage, but who were just as excited to get back into their safe pens on our return.

“Today was a good day” said one of the volunteers. As we had managed to walk all dogs in 2 hours – there must have been at least 20 volunteers to walk around 200 dogs. Sometimes it can take up to 3 hours and in summer when the sun is so hot and all the walking has to be done early, it is not that easy to get people out to do it.



The Center Umm Al Quwain is such a fantastic organisation that us at H+W would like to help more. Many of the leads and collars in the stray home are in bad shape so we thought we would put out an appeal for our customers to donate any old leads and collars they have lying around. Would you join in? Please drop us a line to We will also be donating some of our new collars and leads, and I shall be taking everything with me on my next visit to Conor at the end of March. 

There was time for a chat and a group photo and then it was back to Dubai, where skycrapers grow out of the desert and highways have 8 lanes! 

Built in 2014 exclusively by donations, the Stray Dog Centre in Umm Al Quwain is a non-profit organisation on a mission to help abused, abandoned, neglected and forgotten stray animals in the area. Discover more about their amazing work and volunteer & adoption days here