Arran Giles, originally from Wath on Dearne, and his husband Liam run The Barkery, the latest part of their thriving new business that began with a dog cafe, Frenchie Frenchie.
Arran said: “We opened a dog cafe in 2019 in Mansfield – a place for dogs to bring humans for a change. All the pubs and restaurants we as humans enjoy, they come along for the ride. We wanted it to be somewhere for them to come and enjoy themselves.
“The idea came about when we took our dogs to the groomers in the middle of winter and there was nowhere we could go afterwards. We’d just spent money on having them groomed and smelling nice and we didn’t want to take them to a ditchy field!"
Arran recalled: “We went for a smallish store but it went crazy, to the point where we spoke to Mansfield Council. We were going to have to regulate it on opening day – we had 1,000 likes on Facebook within 24 hours.”
“From that point it was crazy,” Arran said. "Weekends were naturally fully booked and weekdays were starting to fill up – but then the pandemic struck.”
Frenchie Frenchie has a doggy play area and sells their own range of dog treats such as Woofnut doughnuts, Woofin muffins and Woofle waffles in a range of flavours, decorated with unicorns, palm trees and flamingoes, plus their grooming products, colognes and clothing lines.
During lockdown the couple decided to concentrate on the dog bakery side of the business until it was possible to properly reopen the cafe – and then Nottingham Victoria shopping centre got in touch.
Arran said: “They told us ‘we love what you do and we want you to move inside Victoria Centre’. However – there’s no dogs allowed. We’d be taking dog products to a human-only shopping centre.”
They were overwhelmed with the response to their kiosk selling their dog treats and grooming products. Arran said: “We thought ‘Oh my god, we’re on to something here’. It just went ridiculous.”
After that, Lakeside in Essex followed and then Meadowhall showed interest. The Barkery kiosk at Meadowhall opened this week, with the first day of trading proving to be the busiest across all their sites.
Arran and Liam opened up a production centre in Kirkby in Ashfield and now employ close to 30 people in total.
They are opening more outlets and cafes and looking at how to push the business forward.
The couple’s beloved Frenchies (French bulldogs), Penny and Finlay, go with Liam to the production unit every day, while Arran, whose background is in sales, concentrates on staff and customers. Arran said: “He’s the design guy, he has the creative flair.”
At the moment, you will find Arran behind the counter at Meadowhall along with two staff. He loves meeting the public.
Arran says they want to create more jobs and give something back to the economy. “People are starting to come back to retail more than online,” he believes, “They miss the shopping experience. If lockdown’s taught people anything, it’s the social element. We’re social beings.”
Company website: www.frenchiefrenchie.co.uk