September 21, 2017

Paws and Chill business helps dogs cool off at Calke Abbey in South Derbyshire

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Angela Salt, who was made redundant last year, used some of her redundancy pay and an £8,000 start-up loan, to set up Paws and Chill.

Angela commented: “It was a hot day last year when I came up with the idea for an ice cream van for dogs,” she said. “I know how important it is to keep dogs healthy and hydrated while they are out and the idea grew from there.”

The van stocks Frozzy’s frozen yoghurt for dogs, poochy popcorn, a variety of high quality treats and food, as well as handmade collars and leads. It is based at Calke Abbey and will be at the Ashby Show and Bradgate Park summer fair, in Leicestershire, later in the year.

The stock was selected after Angela asked dog owners which types of items they would like to see. Choices were also based on her own experiences as a dog owner, as well as those of her daughter Morgan, another dog lover and owner.

Angela, who runs the business from her home in Stanton Road, Stapenhill, said: “The frozen yoghurt was something I had seen a little while before and, after coming up with the idea for a doggy ice cream van, I thought it would be a perfect product! It has been a massive hit with the dogs over the past few weeks – especially with the warm weather we have been having.”

Angela initially approached East Staffordshire Borough Council to potentially work from their parks. But after finding regulations an issue, she began approaching private landowners.

She said: “Calke Abbey was the first to be interested. I had explained in the email how the van would be smart, professional and fit in with the ethos of the park and grounds. The property manager invited me to an informal interview in February to have a look at the products and discuss terms. I was offered a contract with them to operate from the car park.”

The £8,000 start-up loan was granted by Virgin. Angela said: “With the help of the loan I was able to buy a new van, have it professionally sign-written and fitted out to my specifications. I also bought stock, paid for advertising and, because of the need to have a professional image, have a logo designed that has been used on my matching uniform, printed leaflets and business cards.

Along with costs, her lack of business knowledge was also something that Angela was concerned about. Helpfully, the Virgin StartUp loan application included a business plan. The completion of this is supported by a finance expert in the form of Andrew Hitchinson, who works for Business Enterprise Support – the delivery partners for Virgin StartUp loans across the Midlands.

Angela said: “I didn’t have any previous experience of running a business, but had a small amount of knowledge about self-employment from working at Jobcentres in Burton and Lichfield. What I did have was 30 years of customer service, what I thought was a great idea and a real love for dogs!”

“I found Andrew really helpful, supportive and enthusiastic. He was easy to talk to and explained everything really clearly. The support through writing the business plan was great, and his interest and attitude was really motivating.”

Virgin Start-Up is delivered by Business Enterprise Support, which has offices in Burton and Stoke.

The firm has been running for 30 years and provides start-up support to entrepreneurs across the Midlands. Entrepreneurs can apply for loans between £500 and £25,000 to finance their new business . Eligible applicants receive help and support to develop their business plans and once they have been awarded their loan, they are successful bidders have a mentor from Virgin for the following 12 months.

Angela said: “I would recommend anyone to use Virgin Start up if they were looking to start their own business.”

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