“It will always be harder than you think, so be prepared to be resilient.”
Suellen Tomkins of Wild Heart Pets helps new and busy Spaniel dog owners support their loveable Spaniels’ health and long-term well-being by sourcing and supplying breed-specific products – from bowls to beds and everything in between – through her online store.
For most of her career, Suellen worked in B2B marketing in the healthcare sector. After working for both large and start-up companies in senior roles, she decided to instead take on contracting roles to create flexibility and pursue her love for travel and sailing.
Two years ago, Suellen’s family planned to spend six months sailing in Europe and six months in Australia, which they were able to do for one adventurous year. Although these plans were interrupted, keeping them in Australia for the near future, they still sail on a limited capacity, leading them to buy a black Cocker Spaniel named Ben, who now sails with them!
Suellen has enjoyed taking an idea and growing it into a business from the ground up. Ideally, she would like to be known as the “go to” business for products and information relating to Spaniels with a reputation for great products and service.
Who’s your favourite entrepreneur and why?
Elizabeth and Isabella Abegg, sisters who founded Spell & The Gypsy, a multi-million dollar bohemian fashion label based in Byron Bay, NSW. From a start-up business selling in local markets, they now run a global brand employing 50 staff. They have a very clear vision for the brand and its marketing aesthetic. They know exactly who their customers are and their styles and designs are often copied due to their popularity.
Why did you start your business and what gave you the idea?
I’ve always been drawn to running my own business and have done so in the past in the field of interior styling and colour. My personal professional and personal circumstances in 2020 meant the timing was right to start Wild Heart Pets, focussing on supplying products for Spaniels. I was inspired firstly, by my love for my Cocker Spaniel, Ben, and for dogs in general. I’ve studied vet nursing not so long ago and believe this background helps provide a deeper knowledge of pet supply products.
What do you enjoy most about running your own business?
I enjoy taking an idea and growing it into a business from the ground up. While I enjoy working solo, I also enjoy working as part of a small team and hope to be able to do this in the future as the business grows.
What three pieces of advice do you wish you’d been given when you started?
- It will always be harder than you think, so be prepared to be resilient.
- Don’t expect family and friends to understand what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
- Start with the end in mind and focus on impact for effort.
What advice would YOU give someone thinking about starting a business?
Look for other small business owners who can support you, as it can be lonely in the early days when the learning curve is steep.
What skills and knowledge areas would you recommend those starting out in business get acquainted with quickly?
Digital marketing techniques and what will best in your business. You may not end up doing it all yourself but it’s useful to understand the language and tactics before handing over to someone else.
What does your IDEAL business look like? Even if you’re not there yet, what would it look like if your business was ideal?
I would like to be known as the “go to” business for products and information relating to Spaniels, together with a reputation for great products and service.
I also want to include my own brand in the product range.
What problem does being a Member of the HerBusiness Network solve for you and your business? And, how?
The problem HB solves for me is a network of support and expertise of like-minded women, together with the wealth of knowledge and resources in the group. It helps me stay focussed and not get distracted by bright shiny things.