Entrepreneur

Thanks To Their Cat, These M'sians Now Run A Side Hustle Selling Premium Pet Products

If you’ve already reached the point of spending an embarrassingly large sum on your pets—you’re not alone.

Asia-Pacific as a whole is predicted to dominate the market of premium pet products, driven by the growth of pet humanisation.

This same report predicts how online sales in the household and pet care category are expected to increase at 15% between 2018 and 2023. In fact, this surpasses the health and beauty sector as well as electronics and fashion.

Hoping to grab a piece of this lucrative pie is Tofu Little Pet Space (also called Tofu Space), an online shop dedicated to premium pet accessories, toys and equipment that takes pampering very, very seriously.

Its True Founder, Tofu The Cat

It might’ve been humans Bailey and Nelson (both co-founders) who established Tofu Space in 2018.

But Bailey admitted to Vulcan Post that her one true inspiration was none other than her furry best friend, Tofu.

Tofu, the inspiration behind the shop / Image Credit: Tofu Space

“Tofu is the reason that we started, so it made sense to name the pet shop under her name. We even have a merchandise line dedicated to her called Mini Tofu, because she’s basically the founder of the shop,” Bailey told us. 

One year after getting Tofu, the couple decided to then expand their family by raising Natto and Fugu.  

When asked why she had gone down this route of premium offerings, Bailey said that it was born out of purely wanting to shower her cats with the best of the best.

Founders Bailey (left) and Nelson (right) with their three cats / Image Credit: Tofu Space

“When I first got Tofu, I was excited to get all sorts of pretty pet accessories such as feeders, litter boxes, toys, accessories, etc. that were Pinterest inspired,” Bailey continued.

“But then I noticed that Malaysia’s pet accessories market was quite limited. I couldn’t find anything that looked good and was still within an affordable range.”

For a little while, Bailey just resorted to buying back accessories from countries that she visited.

But one day, after being tired of merely considering the what-ifs and waiting for someone else to do it—she went all in and started her own online solution.

Handpicked, Tried And Tested

Bailey describes Tofu Space as a way for her to share “all the pretty things” with Malaysian pet parents while still introducing them to advanced technology to make their life easier.

“Some of our bestsellers include the bowls and feeders. We also just introduced personalised pet bowls that come with your pet’s name, and our customers absolutely love it so far,” Bailey shared.

Happy customers posing with their Tofu Space personalised products / Image Credit: Tofu Space

Although Bailey has plans to expand her product selections sometime soon, she understands how important it is to list products of the highest quality.

Each and every item is evaluated based on unique design, technology, the material used, and price range.

“We will ask for samples to be sent by the supplier. We then use the products to make sure it’s legit. Once we know it’s of good quality—only then do we add to our shop’s listing,” she justified.

Currently, Bailey works with top suppliers from China, Taiwan and Japan across brands like PETKIT, Pidan, Furrytail, VETRESKA, Arkika, and more.

Giving My ‘Guinea Pig‘ A Taste Of Luxury

Curious to see what a premium product would feel like and how it would function in comparison to your standard store-bought ones (or those bought from other online marketplaces), I asked Bailey to recommend some products to me.

She was kind enough to send over their customised bandana, Pidan leash, 2-in-1 water bowl and feeder, and plush toy.

Here’s my test subject, Loki, donning their customised bandana.

The customised bandana in gold font

Their bandana (RM20) comes in small, medium and large options, and you can customise it according to the font options provided which come in colours of white, sky blue, baby pink, and gold.

The bandana latches easily enough either on the chest or back of your pet. You can definitely see the attention that’s paid to it. They use high-quality cotton material which makes it feel luxurious.

As for the Pidan leash (RM50), it has a healthy dose of colours and patterns, but it ended up being a little on the tight side for my toy poodle.

The Pidan leash (left) compared to one bought off Shopee (right)

Comparing this with my puppy’s current leash (which cost me about RM15 on Shopee), I still somewhat prefer the latter. In terms of durability, the previous leash feels a tad more durable—considering my dog tugs a lot during his walks.

Tofu Space does advertise this as one meant for small dogs and cats, so I’m guessing they do mean pretty small pets.

They also sent over their unique bubble 2-in-1 water and food feeder (RM45) to us to try out. This takes a little assembling, but the logic behind it is simple.

The bubble 2-in-1 water and food feeder

As you can see, the plastic bubble needs to be filled at least halfway through and then attached to the appendage on the top. Once that’s done, the water runs to the little bowl that your pet can then drink out from.

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Loki drinking from the bubble 2-in-1 water and food feeder

If your dog is an equally messy drinker, the white rotating disk allows them to lap as fast as they want without spilling it all over.

I was worried about Loki not knowing what it was or not wanting to go anywhere near it, but it actually worked surprisingly well.

The toy made to look like Bailey’s first cat, Tofu

Bailey also threw in a Mini Tofu (RM15), a plush toy inspired by the OG cat herself. This works more as a keychain for humans as the little blue beads attached might be a choking hazard for your pets.

And no, it didn’t come that dirty. I had to wrestle it from my little creature after he grabbed it out of nowhere.

Slowly, But Cautiously Growing Their Presence

Bailey shared with Vulcan Post that growing Tofu Space is oftentimes difficult, especially considering her full-time job in design and marketing. 

“The biggest challenge definitely has to be money and time. When I first started, I did not have much in savings either to channel to the business—so sales itself was slow. I relied on bazaars most of the time, but my day job does take up a lot of time,” Bailey confessed.

To try and drive up sales, Bailey also opts for platforms like Lazada and Shopee to market and sell her products as well.

Regardless, she told us that she’s only capable of handling local orders for now.

“This started in Malaysia and I’m not aiming for it to go worldwide just yet. This is also because international shipping fees end up being more expensive than my low priced products.”

She does, however, want to start collaborations with more local shelters to raise Tofu Space’s street cred, attend more pet exhibitions (amongst which are the upcoming Pet Fiesta 2020 and Pet World Malaysia 2020) as well as hopefully start manufacturing her very own merchandise in the near future.

  • You can read more about other Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: Tofu Space

 

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