During our discussion with Mrs. Saloni Mehra, Co-Founder of Paw Affaire, she shares the motivations behind her foray into the pet industry, the niche she aims to address in the world of accessories, and the philanthropic initiatives that underpin her work.
How did you get into the pet accessories business?
The inspiration for Paw Affaire stemmed from my beloved pet, Fluffy, which ultimately transformed my life. While searching for products for him, I noticed that many items in the pet industry were predominantly made of plastic and nylon, causing discomfort for my furry companion. It was clear that this material posed a choking hazard for him. Fuelled by love and necessity, Paw Affaire came into being.
Situated in the picturesque French town of Pondicherry, our company specializes in producing high-quality, Indian-made pet accessories. These include collars, leashes, and even poop bags, all crafted from soft and comfortable cotton. Our focus is on sustainability, ensuring our products are eco-friendly. Moreover, we are dedicated to empowering women by providing employment opportunities. In our factory of 10, nine of our skilled workers are women.
At Paw Affaire, we are committed to a sustainable approach, prioritizing animal welfare and comfort. This ethos has been at the heart of our journey from the very beginning.
When and did you start Paw Affaire?
Our journey began in January 2022. After careful preparation, we conducted a trial launch on October 6th, 2022 in Gurgaon. This event took the form of a lively “paw party” held in one of the DLF societies, attended by 40 furry guests. The celebration included games, cakes, and the distribution of our pet products, marking it as a trial run for our offerings. The response from attendees was overwhelmingly positive, providing us with valuable feedback.
Besides your love pets, what gaps did you see in the pet accessories industry that made you dive into this space?
As we delved into the realm of pet products in India, it became evident that the country had a thriving market for items like pet food and treats. However, when it came to accessories, I noticed a significant dearth of high-quality options. Many available products were constructed from materials like plastic and nylon, often of subpar quality. They lacked durability and distinctive features. Furthermore, the functionality, particularly the locking mechanisms, left much to be desired, posing a potential risk of pets getting loose. With these observations in mind, we identified a critical gap in the market. It became apparent that there was a need for products that prioritized animal welfare and comfort, an aspect largely overlooked by existing offerings. This realization inspired our entry into this space
How did you come up with the gifting segment?
After attending numerous pet birthday parties, we noticed a distinct lack of suitable gifts for such occasions. This realization prompted us to venture into the gifting segment. It’s clear that pets are cherished as integral family members. Just as you would bring a token of appreciation for your human hosts when visiting their home, there’s a desire to do the same for their pets. This observation highlighted yet another unaddressed niche in the market.
How do you fit self manufacturing and your love to incorporate social endeavours altogether in your brand?
While it might have been more convenient and cost-effective to opt for Chinese products, a practice adopted by 60% of the accessory market, we chose a different path. Despite the potential higher costs, we were committed to producing our goods in India. This decision aligns with our mission to promote women’s empowerment. By establishing our operations in Pondicherry, a quaint French town, we’re creating opportunities for women to participate in the workforce. Our focus on using cotton, promoting sustainability, and advocating for eco-friendly practices mirrors the core principles of the G20 summit. Additionally, we’ve implemented a recycling program. After six months of use, customers can return their leash to us for recycling and receive a new product at a significantly reduced price of either 50% or 30% less. This approach embodies our commitment to balancing our business practices with our environmental and social responsibilities.
What are your plans for the future? And how do you think you will fill in the void in the pet accessories industry in the future while also managing all these other initiatives that you’re trying to incorporate?
Our initial step was participating in the IIPTF Trade Fair, where we received a promising response. We understand that for any business to thrive, profitability is key. To achieve this, we are actively pursuing export orders from the U.S., Singapore, and the UAE. This will not only kick-start our business but also pave the way for future endeavours in India, including the introduction of these products through various channels.
In addition to our existing offerings like walking kits and bow bandanas, we’re set to unveil an extensive range of toys. These toys are designed to be both engaging for group play and enjoyable for individual use. Moreover, they’ll be made from sustainable cotton to ensure they’re safe for pets.
Furthermore, we have plans to introduce a luxury collection, catering to the growing trend of pet parties and special events. As part of our diversification strategy, we’ll soon be launching mats and beds. However, for now, our primary focus is on introducing at least six distinct product ranges in India. This will serve as our starting point, and we’ll continue to assess and expand from there.