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Strabane pet accessory business nominated for nationwide award

12 May 2022

Setting up a business from scratch during a pandemic with three young children at home and no previous experience may seem audacious but Jenna Mitchell has not just survived but thrived under those conditions.

Her pet accessory business has gone from taking its first baby steps at the end of last year to being nominated for a Northern Ireland wide award in just seven short months.

Scottie Paws, which won a trading spot at The Pagoda in Strabane through Council’s RE:Imagine scheme, under the Start Up Accelerator Programme, funded by Community Renewal Fund, has now been shortlisted in the Independent Pet Shop category of the NI Pet Awards.

Jenna has paid tribute to Strabane BID and the part it has played in her overnight success, thanks to its help from the very start when, she admits, she didn’t know where to start.

The farmer’s wife living in Cullion came up with her crafty idea while her horse-riding school was closed during lockdown.

She explains: “I have a Jack Russell called Scottie and I could never find the harnesses I wanted for him in the shops in terms of colour, quality and affordability so I decided to see if I could get some made.

“I looked into getting some manufactured here, and that’s something I would still love to do, but it just isn’t viable at the minute so, through contacts I have through the horses, I started dealing with an international supplier.

“We design here and ultimately my dream would be to get everything made here too.

“I got my first lot of products in September and got a website up and running and started trading in October 2021.

“I thought it would be good to do a trade show so I applied for one at Halloween with Derry City and Strabane District Council.

“My application must have told them that I did not have a clue what I was doing so they got in touch and helped me do an application form for the next shows at Christmas.

“I did those and some doggy ones as well and then I got involved with RE:Imagine through SUAP which led to me launching the trading space at The Pagoda in Strabane in March.

“The people of Strabane have been super, anyone who has come in to me has bought something which is great to see because it is lovely stuff.”

With such a successful start, Jenna is turning her attention to how to enhance her products such as collars for dogs and cats, dog leads and harnesses.

She’s hoping before too long she’ll be able to customise them to include pet names and contact details through embroidery and engraving as well as offer new ranges.

One such idea she has discussed with the Fashion Hub involved in RE:Imagine is recycling old human coats into dog coats.

Jenna is enjoying the ride so far but is modest about her amazing achievements.

“I just go with the flow, so many doors have opened for me, it’s incredible.

“We’re now involved with North West Regional College, developing fancy high-end dog treats and we’re hoping to get a spot at this year’s Clipper Maritime Festival in Derry during July.

“I’ll just keep having a go at things because what’s the worst that can happen? Someone will say no, but that’s fine, I’ll just move on to the next thing.

“Strabane people and the other businesses have been so supportive, they want everyone to succeed for the good of the town and Strabane BID has been brilliant.

“They’ve blown it out of the water in terms of the help and assistance they’ve given me.

“I can’t fault them, they are always just a phone call or email away, whatever they can do to help, they do it.”

To vote for Jenna in the NI Pet Awards, visit her Facebook page at ‘scottiepawspets’ or follow the link http://www.northernirelandpetawards.com/vote and vote for Scottie Paws Pets under the Independent Pet Shop of the Year (Antrim / L’Derry / Tyrone) category.