Roll up, roll up, to see guinea pigs with circus-inspired accessories
- Credit: Archant
Pet accessories are all the rage this festive season. And a couple from Chelmsford, have come up with a range of circus-themed accessories for guinea pigs through their company Haypigs! that tap into the trend for the movie the Greatest Showman too.
After adopting a pair of male guinea pigs from a local rescue centre, Rik and Helen Cridland went on to adopt another seven, and bought them every toy and accessory on the market. They soon became “very frustrated” at the lack of choice, quality and specialism for guinea pigs in pet shops.
“It seemed strange that guinea pigs had no dedicated section in a pet shop and were simply bundled together with other small animals such as rabbits, hamsters, chinchillas and rats,” explains Mr Cridland. “We noticed that people actually bought products that weren’t even suitable for guinea pigs, simply through bad labelling or a lack of welfare knowledge.
“We were also astounded at how many guinea pigs ended up being ‘surrendered’ to rescue centres, because people were ‘fed-up’ with them or hadn’t expected them to grow so big, or live so long.
“Creating a brand for guinea pigs seemed like a great opportunity to raise the profile of these small animal pets and their welfare needs, while enhancing and enriching the everyday lives of small furries and their humans.”
Haypigs! is tapping into a growing trend for accessories for our four legged friends, particularly of the canine variety. A recent survey by Savile Row Company, a London-based suits and shirts tailor, has revealed that 40% of UK dog owners spend more on their beloved pooches than family at Christmas. Of the same group, a quarter admitted to spending more on their dog than their significant other.
Mr Cridland, 36, explained that at the moment, their customer demographic is predominantly female - “but we are very keen to change that,” he adds. “Interestingly, the number of boys into guinea pigs drops off dramatically as they become teenagers, but we are seeing a re-emergence of interest in grown men, known affectionately as ‘pig-dads’.”
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HayPigs! currently uses two UK based sourcing companies to help produce the majority of their products in China.
Haypigs! already has a strong presence in the UK and Australia and has had modest sales in mainland Europe.
“We think France and Germany would be the next obvious steps in Europe and that getting our products over to the US and Canada in the near future is a no-brainer,” Mr Cridland says. “Further afield, we also think that Japan and China would also be very interested in our products.”
Mr Cridland previously ran his own business, Stir design, as a product designer, and developed the Haypigs! products from his own sketches. The pair also used the help of their local guinea pig rescue centre, Blackberry Patch in Chelmsford, along with a network of other guinea pig experts around the world, to produce the range.
The company has scooped a raft of awards for their products, including the Best New Small Animal Product Award at PATS Telford in 2017, and the New Company Award at the Essex Business Awards.