Author’s blurb: How many of us here spend an enormous amount of money on our pets? For me, whenever I go to the pet store, I would look around to see if I can find something to bring home for my angsty toy poodle to either chew on, sleep, or dress in.
Win Nie, too, would hunt for attractive or custom pet accessories for her toy poodle, Chanel, which she adopted 9 years ago.
Back then, elegant pet accessories were hard to find, seemingly non-existent. Nothing charmed her eyes enough to want to get them for Chanel.
So, she launched Haiwan, where she could make and sell her own custom pet collars for Chanel and other pets.
A Pet Jeweller
Haiwan sells a variety of pet collars, where some can look identical to human bracelets.
“I’d decided to incorporate jewellery elements to pet tags as I’d always envisioned this design for Chanel,” she said.
Some of her bespoke collars come with dangly jewels attached to it, like the ones in her crystal tag collection.
Though they look charming, I wondered about a pet’s safety when it comes to these charms.
Pets who play rough with each other may cause the dangly bits to break off, and in an unfortunate case, accidentally eating and choking on it.
But Win Nie assured that her customers are obliged to consult with her before they purchase them.
Her in-person consultations are usually done to determine a suitable collar size for the pets.
She also spends time to advise them that if their pets are teething, rough during playtime, or below 6 months old, they should decide against these products.
“As every owner will know their Haiwans the best, I will give them my advice as an experienced Haiwan owner, and leave the deciding factor up to them,” she assured.
She also uses custom jump rings to attach the charms, ensuring it stays intact for a pet’s safety.
For a less hazardous option, Haiwan also has leather collars with solid brass tags with a rustic finish, engraved by Win Nie herself.
Balancing Work, Life, And Pet Care
Despite running Haiwan’s operations for more than a year now, managing her time equally between this venture and her full time job is something Win Nie’s still trying to balance.
She would rush Haiwan orders out at night after coming home from work.
It can get extremely busy on some days, especially when there are custom orders to be made.
Aside from her bespoke pet collars, she also sells more comfortable pet accessories like soft neck pillows to replace uncomfortable plastic cones of shame.
Most of her orders tend to come by rather sporadically, particularly orders for the soft neck pillows.
This is usually because owners can’t predict when accidents would happen, so most would request for the pillow cones to be delivered that same day.
It was actually a similar case that happened with Chanel that pushed Win Nie to start this venture.
Chanel had woken up paralysed in her hind legs one morning in 2018.
That began a whole year of back to back hospital check-ups, vigorous physiotherapy and nursing her furkid back to health.
Acquiring special equipment to help Chanel recover while feeling comfortable was extremely difficult for Win Nie to find in Malaysia.
Once Chanel’s condition had stabilised, Win Nie launched Haiwan in May 2019.
But just like Chanel, pets will recover from their wounds and injuries eventually.
That made me wonder how good of an investment buying one of these neck pillows would be for such a temporary usage period.
Win Nie said that this assumption can be inaccurate, as certain breeds like Huskies and Shiba Inus tend to itch during shedding season.
This would subject them to wearing the cone quite regularly to prevent them from scratching.
Hence, the cones work as a long term investment for a pet’s benefit, as the product can last for a long time if properly taken care of.
She also disclaims that she doesn’t make these pillow cones herself. Rather, she outsources them from makers overseas.
The same applies to all the other products sold on her store other than the pet collars.
Collaborating Over Competing
Ever since her first client, Haiwan’s sales have been growing steadily.
Before COVID-19, Haiwan had pop-ups in flea markets and pet bazaars. This allowed them to go beyond social media and meet clients in real life.
For now, Win Nie’s working with Concrete Dezign in making feeder bowls for pets.
Since the brand’s pricing tends to be on the higher end, Haiwan aims to match it with the quality of their products.
Her goal is to eventually make Haiwan known as the go-to place for unique and high-end pet accessories.
She hopes to one day open up a brick and mortar store too.
As of now, Haiwan has yet to break even. Win Nie said that she’ll know that her business has made it when it starts to profit.
Bottom line: It makes sense to put a cone on pets that won’t stop scratching as mine has scratched herself till she’s bled. It might just be a good investment to get her one too. My concern though is about how warm it’ll feel if a pet were to wear it all day, especially in our humid weather.
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Featured Image Credit: Chanel (left), the toy poodle of Hawian’s founder, Win Nie