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We've just launchedF&F Pet and are so excited to introduce some amazing eco-friendly and vegan pet brands to you, likeAnimals in Charge! If you've ever struggled to find beautiful dog collars that aren't made from leather, then we've got a great solution for you. Animals in Charge make 100% vegan and cruelty-free dog collars and leashes made from earth-friendly, recycled materials because we really don't think another animal should suffer to create something your pet is going to wear!
We are so excited to have this new brand on board and spoke to founder Alex Barnett to find out a little more about this fantastic brand!
What inspired you to start Animals In Charge?
All my life I have loved animals and the outdoors. At university, I studied design and somehow ended up as a software engineer for many years. I wasn't being creatively fulfilled by my career so I would design all sorts of things in my spare time. I designed and built furniture and clothing, and when my English Cocker Spaniel, 'Pixel' joined me, I focused my energy on designing and making pieces for him. I was (and still am!) passionate about it, and when you combine passion and knowledge you can create something wonderful.
How did you decide on the material to make your products?
Specifying materials is a technical process, and it's always a balance between function, form, and environmental impact. It can be a tricky balance. We often prototype a single product for over 6 months to ensure it meets our own criteria before we put it out to the public. The materials must be fit for purpose first, then we can explore things like durability, recycled content, natural versus synthetic, end of life, energy to create, chemical usage and waste, place of origin and many more variables that will result in an end product that we are proud of.
Your purpose is To make beautiful, durable products that are kind to the environment. Why is this important to you?
For me, this statement represents the perfect product balance. I'm a designer so naturally, I want to see and use things that are visually pleasing, and I want that for my dog too. Put simply, being kind to the environment just feels like the right thing to do. I grew up in country Victoria and was fortunate to spend most of my childhood and teenage years outdoors doing things like camping, hiking, swimming, skiing, biking, etc. All these things are offered to us by nature. Manufacturing anything has some kind of impact. The very least we can do is be kind and minimise the impact we create.
For every product sold, Animals In Charge donates $1+ to animal rescue. Which do you donate to?
This is such an important part of Animals in Charge. I built this company to make a positive impact on animals, people, and the environment so naturally making some kind of revenue share to non-profits made sense. In the beginning, we directed this towards community animal fostering and rehoming groups like 'Cocker Spaniel Rescue Australia', 'Rescued with Love', and 'Greyhound Rescue'. Since then we have diversified where we use these funds where we feel it will have an impact. For example, during the late 2019 bushfires, we were able to make several sizable donations to 'Port Stephens Koalas' and 'World Wide Fund for Nature' (WWF) to contribute to koala rescue and rehabilitation. We are always open to new ideas, and we welcome any request.
Why do you manufacture your products in Australia and why is this important to you?
The most important thing for me is doing the right thing. Creating a business that offers employment to people is a real thrill. Being in Australia is very special, but the most important thing is offering excellent conditions, fair pay, and respect, where all people are treated as equals. Our staff are in Australia, but no matter where they are I would offer the same.
How do you use recycled, salvaged and natural materials?
Using recycled and natural materials is all just part of material selection, but the real fun is salvaging unexpected materials. For example, our Tartan Cafe Collars are made from old stock of school uniform fabric. Previously we have used vintage curtains, old blankets, and donated men's shirts to create some really fun pieces.