We were chatting to some of our Facebook friends earlier today about what they consider to be the most important things when it comes to choosing a dog bed (view it on Facebook). There were some really interesting comments posted and it sparked another discussion in the office on the question of style over substance.
Since we launched Charley Chau we’ve seen lots of small businesses set-up that sell their own dog bedding ranges as well as more and more mass market retailers that haven’t traditionally sold dog beds, from major super market chains to petrol stations, now stocking them in-store and online.
So, the choice available to dog owners is much wider with all kinds of companies, from tiny to huge, selling dog beds and blankets many of which are designed to appeal to more style-conscious customers. This should be a good thing – a much wider choice for dog owners across a broad range of products. But there is an inherent problem still facing consumers: the increase in choice doesn’t seem to have brought about similar improvements in quality.
We started Charley Chau because it was so difficult to find stylish dog beds and blankets that coordinate with our home, hence our tag-line “beautiful bedding for dogs that looks gorgeous in your home”, and also because we were fed-up with spending increasingly more money on dog beds that ended up in the bin because they went flat as a pancake after a few months or were completely ruined after a few washes (or both), hence our mantra "gorgeous and practical!"
It is now much easier to find dog beds and blankets that are visually appealing than a few years ago but there is still an issue with quality. The old saying “you get what you pay for” does sometimes hold true when it comes to dog bedding but there are many instances of “designer” dog beds with designer price tags that are constructed in exactly the same way as a £20 dog bed from the local garden centre, with the only difference being a prettier fabric and a bigger hole in your pocket.
Forget the look of the bed for a second and consumers are still left with the same old issues - mattresses that end up lumpy and bumpy with clumps of fibre that can’t be separated, covers that don’t come off for washing, collapsing sides, mattresses that can’t be washed, and the list goes on. All of this adds up to a very uncomfortable bed for the dog and poor value for money for the human!
From the day we started Charley Chau, we were determined that any dog bed or blanket carrying the Charley Chau name would be super-comfy and look fabulous, and that it would also stay that way even after months and months of use and zillions of spins in the wash. We don’t claim that a bed will always look as pristine as on the day it arrives, or that it will last forever, but our beds and blankets are designed to stay comfy and cosy over time.
What we found very quickly was that the quality that we wanted to deliver came with higher production costs so while our beds are certainly not the most expensive dogs beds in the market, they're not sold at the cheap end of the market either. But we do think our luxury dog bedding offers good value for money. All of our soft bedding is made in England - from the cotton which is printed in mills in Yorkshire and Lancashire to the faux-fur fleece that we have knitted exclusively for Charley Chau, and the deep-filled mattresses that we put into our beds.
All of the dog beds and blankets in our range are designed for comfort, practicality, performance over time and style. When we design a Charley Chau dog bed, we start with a basic idea that is turned into a prototype which is then tested – by dogs and humans. Sometimes we bin the prototype and start again from scratch, other times we’re able to tweak the design, test it again, tweak, test, and so on until we, and our testers, are 110% happy with it.
Later this month we will launch a dog bed that we’re incredibly proud of. It’s called the Deeply Dishy Dog Bed with deep, cosy sides to give the bed a snug, den-like feel and a super-deep filled mattress that’s soft and supportive to create the perfect base. Sneak preview below.
Our customers and other friends who have seen the Deeply Dishy Dog Bed in development have all commented on how gorgeous it looks, but that was the easy part to get right!
We’ve been working on the Deeply Dishy Dog Bed for two years. We could have launched a bed that looked almost identical over a year ago - we had nailed comfort, practicality and style but we weren’t 100% happy with performance over time so we carried on working on it until we were sure we’d got it right.
Our challenge was the physical construction of the bed to make sure that it’s as comfy and gorgeous after months of regular use as it is on the day it’s ordered, and we believe we have finally cracked it!
Two years of prototyping and testing, over twenty design iterations and working with six different manufacturers to make sure that this bed is everything that we want out of a dog bed carrying the Charley Chau name, and the Deeply Dishy Dog Bed has finally gone into production! Watch this space as we will be launching the bed in the next few weeks!
So, back to the question of style over substance. Charley Chau makes beautiful bedding for dogs that looks gorgeous in your home, but there’s plenty of substance behind all that style. If only all dog bedding companies could claim the same!