This week’s 60 second interview comes from Mirren Fischer (Chief Dog-Spoiler @luxuryhound). Mirren is an American architect and entrepreneur living in Edinburgh since 2008. She doesn’t like to acknowledge she’s a techie in public, but she definitely has a geek-streak!
What’s your startup?
Luxuryhound. We encourage people to spoil their dogs. More specifically, we design and make designer dog accessories in Scotland, mostly from leathers and tweeds, but we also have a more urban line of sparkly crystal collars.
Who/what inspired you to go down this road?
Even though I’m not a Paris Hilton type, I had a ‘handbag’ dog, and I took her everywhere with me; she really was a sort of substitute child. I then started noticing that I was part of a global trend of people anthropomophising their pets (and thereby spending more money on them) and yet, at the time, there wasn’t much out there that I thought was special. I was actually pushed to start the company when the recession carried away a lot of the design work in Scotland and I had to figure out something else to do.
What’s the next big challenge or hurdle that the company has to overcome?
I’ve been building my brand online, but in order to make the leap to larger sales I need to start selling wholesale. Shops like Harrods and Saks Fifth Avenue are in my sights, but my biggest hurdle is how shy I am about direct sales. When I talk to people about my products I know I convey passion and integrity; it’s just making the initial cold contact that terrifies me!
I’m also very interested in exporting to the BRIC countries, as they have a growing appetite for luxury goods AND their dog ownership is growing quickly, but I need to make the right contacts.
In three sentences, what’s the personal dream?
The worst thing I can think of is being bored. When I was younger I probably thought the dream life was to live in the lap of luxury and not have to work, but I now know that I have to keep busy learning and creating to be happy. I could imagine being a serial entrepreneur in completely different arenas.
If your life had a theme song, what would it be?
‘Sisters are doin’ it for themselves’…!!
What are you secretly an expert at?
Er, picking my nose? Oh, is that not a secret?
If your school friends had to pick a ‘Most Likely’ for you, what would it have been?
I’m pretty sure most people who knew me when I was in school thought I was going to be a performer — actor, singer, etc. At uni I focused on more prosaic/ intellectual pursuits, but I still love to get up and make a fool of myself in front of loads of people. I suppose that sounds bizarre after I’ve just mentioned how scared of cold-calling I am, but somehow they are quite different to me.
What lesson do you wish you’d been taught before you started all this?
I don’t you think you can be ‘taught’ lessons; you have to learn them. I read all sorts of business books, then went out and made the exact mistakes I’d told myself I wasn’t going to. Specifically: a. I should have kept a day job for a long time, and b. I should have gotten at least one product to market much sooner than I did. You can make up all sorts of excuses why you’re not ready, but until you get to market you have no idea what will sell.
I do think that one of the most under-appreciated problems of being a sole-founder start-up is loneliness: when you don’t talk to another person all day life can get a little too close to ‘Fight Club’ for comfort.
What’s the strangest advice you’ve received?
A scary guy in the New York subway yelled at me to not ever eat ice cream (note that there was no ice cream in sight at the time). He was probably right, though.
If someone wants to get on your good side, what would they need to do?
Good old-fashioned Scottish wit works well with me, but then it needs to be backed up with kindness. Or, you could just get me a deal with Harrods.
Is there anything you’d like to hear from people about?
Yeah! Two things: 1. If you have any contacts at high-end retail stores, both here and abroad, that might be likely to carry my products, let me know and 2. I’m now looking for interns to help with SEO, social media, and a-b testing the website.
Catch Luxuryhound over at www.luxuryhound.com!