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A shaggy dog story

The Little Dog Laughed greeting and giftware brand founder, Anna Danielle introduces her latest canine creation, Douglas The Boy Wonder

Tell us a bit about The Little Dog Laughed brand was started. Shortly after graduating from Winchester School of Art 1998, I started The Little Dog Laughed. Although drawing dogs has remained a constant, my style has evolved throughout this time, from the original sepia ink and pen wash of the Classic collection and the traditional Scruffy Mutts range to the popular Digs & Manor range.
The company itself has changed greatly from the 'one girl and her dog' days. I now share the business with my two brothers, Gavin and Nathan who have turned it from a back-bedroom venture into a viable small business.
There have been many highs and lows and yet the one true constant has been The Little Dog Laughed fan base who have never faltered in their support, loyalty and admiration which is how and why they are still here today and able to try something new with Douglas The Boy Wonder.

Can you tell us a bit about the team and how they've worked on this new brand? I'd sketched Douglas, a little toy antique dog, when he first came into my possession and thought he would make a nice greeting card. Like many of my 3am ideas, this looked amazing in my head but rather bland in the harsh light of day. So the sketches lay unseen in the design drawer for over a year. Then after one of my now infamous 'tidy-ups', the sketches sat on my table for a number of weeks and were commented on by all who saw them. Uplifted by this, the Douglas sketch became the new company logo and then he was used for a limited edition calico tote bag, designed purely as a thank you for their trade and retail customers. It was really the overwhelming reaction to this bag that hailed another 'let's just do it' moment, and so Douglas The Boy Wonder was born.

How was this collection developed and how would you describe it to retailers? Douglas has been a photographic muse for The Little Dog Laughed for a number of years, promoting new products lines and making appearances at all their trade shows. He's a rather special little dog. His past is a bit of a mystery but with his patchy fur, loose stuffing and missing wheels, it's clear he's been on a few adventures. My style is traditionally quite detailed, but I adore clean, fresh lines and strong colours. I was lucky enough to spend some time working in Norway and my appreciation of Nordic design has stayed with me since. I wanted to try something completely different with Douglas that would be contemporary, considered, practical and fresh. These words became my working titles and this debut collection stays true to those words.

Is the collection aimed at a particular type of retail outlet or consumer? Douglas The Boy Wonder could appeal to anyone who loves dogs and has an appreciation for contemporary design. He crosses many age ranges and behaves well in independent retail outlets or outlets looking for something eye-catching and original. Douglas has been developed very much with the end retail display in mind, so his point-of-sale offerings are strong and his bespoke gift bags all add to the brand appeal. His story is on all of his labelling and he even has his own Instagram page, @DOUGLASTHEBOYWONDER_, which follows his adventures around the UK and shares his love of design, foodie discoveries and his favourite shops working hard to create a great retail experience.

Are you exhibiting at any trade fairs over the coming months? If so, which ones and why? Being new on the scene and fancying spending some time in old London Town, Douglas has booked himself a stand at Top Drawer Spring to see how the capital react to his debut collection. He'll also have his own space on The Little Dog Laughed's stand at Spring Fair and again at Autumn Fair. These two Birmingham shows have always proved the most effective for all our team's brands and being a Derby-based company it makes exhibiting collections cost effective.

What are the long-term plans for the brand?
The long-term plans for Douglas The Boy Wonder reads like the bucket list of anyone who has ever dared to dream big! In the meantime, his short-term long term plans definitely include more fabric designs and pet accessories, as well as a limited edition sculpture collaboration with ceramicist Virginia Dowe-Edwards, which is really exciting. This little boy wonder truly is a dog to keep a close eye on in 2017.

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