Ann Rees has been designing and making beautifully handmade leather products for dogs, horses and country folk since 1987.
Twenty six years ago a resourceful and creative young mum, with a need to feed four hungry mouths, embarked on a business venture which would allow her the freedom to always be at home for her children. Year on year her business has grown, let's say 'organically', thanks to customer recommendations and word of mouth rather than extensive marketing and flashy advertising, and thus she is still trading in 2013. Today she still runs her business from a bottom-of-the-garden workshop and continues to happily toil away for her ever expanding band of loyal, and increasingly international, customers.
That mum is my Mum, Ann, and this is what she does.
Mum grew up around horses and wanted to pass on the enjoyment she had experienced to us - her children. My sister and I took to horses like ducks to water, my brothers not so much! However, it soon became apparent that all the paraphernalia demanded by two 'pony-mad' daughters was not going to be kind to the family finances but in true 'Can-do Ann' style, Mum quickly devised a plan so that we did not have to part with our beloved ponies. She decided she would learn how to make all the items we needed herself.
She enrolled herself on a saddlery course delivered by Mark Romain in order to learn numerous traditional leather craft techiques - including hand stitching - and began making head collars and bridles, as well as offering a tack repair service. About year later she invested in a heavy duty sewing machine and started experimenting with other fabrics, product designs and ideas - we sported mum-made horse rugs, travelling boots, seat savers and even funky leather chaps (mine were brown with green fringes - Loved them!). As interest in her products grew among our friends, Mum began exhibiting her wares, at weekends, at local horse and agricultural shows - having to also drag along four 'reluctant' children with her until we were old enough to stay at home.
As my siblings and I gradually flew the nest, we found our spots being filled by my mum's beloved dogs. She now shares her home with her somewhat 'mischievous' yellow lab, Buster, her partner's two impeccably behaved gun dogs, Tola and Jazz, and the latest addition - gorgeously cheeky Maggie. The arrival of her new 'babies' brought with it a new and exciting focus for her business and she poured her energies into expanding and diversifying her existing dog product range. Truth be told, Mum was fairly relieved when my sister and I departed equestrian circles as it allowed her to also dispense with some of the less desirable aspects of her work. I still remember the absolutely elation on her face when she realised ... 'I will never have to fix a filthy horse rug again!' (Although she still has the occassional 20+ year customer that manages to rubber-arm her into it).
Her dog products have now formed the core of her business for the past 15 years. By constantly adapting and expanding her product range, as well as her utter committment to producing beautifully handmade and exceptionally durable products, she continues to thrive despite the explosion of retailers in the pet industry of late. We are now a vast empire of ... two: mother and daughter, striving daily to provide you with the very 'Best-of-British' creativity and craftsmanship.
We greatly appreciate your interest in our products and hope to hear from you soon.
Kind regards, Carla