LUXURY ACCESSORIES FOR DOGS
THE PERSON BEHIND THE BRAND
"Although we like to think of ourselves as a Big Brand, in truth, we are just a small little company
with Big Dreams and Big Ideals."
This is our Story...
Hello Fur-Friends, Dog Mammas and Pappas and of course our Feline Friends too!
My name is Karen Burnett, and I am the person behind the KINGSLEY & GRAY dream, the person that you chat to on Instagram and Facebook, and the person that liaises with you on all your orders. I am also the person that gets extremely excited every time you place an order and I personally oversee it every step of the way, including the wrapping, packing and the little notes inside. I thought it was time to say "Hi", as you have all become like friends to me and I feel I know so much about you and your fur-family, and it's time you got to know a bit more about me too. So here's a little background info about your favourite Pet Brand and how we started.
I come from a career in Sales, Marketing and Advertising and I never, ever imagined that I would change careers later in life and move into the Pet Industry. I am a very proud Dog Mamma to two fur-babies currently, and before that I had another four... so in total I feel like the Mum to six fluffies, all Golden Cocker Spaniels. I've always loved dogs and I realised that there are so many beautiful Dog Accessory Boutiques overseas, selling the most Luxurious products for Pets, but there was just nothing of that standard or quality here in South Africa. I became truly inspired by what I saw and initially thought of Importing some beautiful products to South Africa to introduce to the market here, but then I thought... "no ways, we can make our own products, with our own unique look, feel and style"... a truly South African product that we can supply to not only the South African market, but also to the World, introducing some South African charm and flair to the world at large. I had no idea where to start or how dog accessories were made, but a dream had been born and it was time to make it come true.
WHERE DID I GET THE NAME FOR THE BRAND?
I created the name KINGSLEY & GRAY from the things closest to my heart. My six Spaniel's were/are named... Honey, Jenna Wade, Stirling, Kingsley, Grayson Heath and Fleur. That's right... my youngest two boys at the time of creating the Boutique were Kingsley and Grayson Heath (we called him Gray for short). Two of the most playful and loving little souls and total opposites of each other. Kingsley was super-chilled and got on well with everyone. Nothing phased him and he was his Mamma's absolute shadow. He had beautiful golden eyes and a long coat of straight, golden hair... a real pretty boy. (Sadly, Kingsley passed away on the 12th February 2023). Grayson Heath was the clown in the family and very mischievous. He was a very big boy and had the curliest most impressive mop of hair on his head... he often looked like a Lion with a big, beautiful mane. He was the protector of the family, and took his job very seriously. (Sadly, Grayson passed away on the 28th October 2023). We often referred to these two boys as BIG BOY & LITTLE MAN (Kingsley & Grayson). Their beauty, inside & out, lives on in Kingsley & Gray and pays tribute to them in every product.
I feel I must also mention Jenna Wade, who passed away on the 25th June 2021 (on the 2nd birthday of K&G). Although we didn't include Jenna Wade in our company name, she became our first senior Dog Model at age 15 and was very much part of the heart & soul of Kingsley & Gray and definitely the "boss" of the boys. She was 17 when she passed away and is terribly missed by us all. In early 2022 we welcomed baby Fleur into our family and she is now the youngest model for Kingsley & Gray... the tradition continues.
IN THE BEGINNING
Starting the Brand was a very daunting experience, as I knew literally nothing about the Industry. But it was also the most fun I've had in a very long time. I knew what I wanted to create, so I just started with step one... creating our products. Our first products were Bandanas, Bow Ties, Collars & Leads. I don't make them myself (I have no idea how to even thread a sewing machine...), so I found a very talented Seamstress who is a stay-at-home-Mum and she had the abilities and skills to make my visions come to life. After many production meetings, problem solving, component sourcing and creating inspirational mood boards, we produced our very first products. I also found an absolute gem of an Artisan to make up our very unique and gorgeous Macrame Collection, who understood exactly what I wanted and between her and her staff, she created our Flagship Macrame Range that we are truly proud of... the only one of it's kind in South Africa.
It was so exciting to be able to hold our first collars and leads and to test them on our own dogs. After a few modifications and upgrades, we were ready to launch KINGSLEY & GRAY. Next step... the Shoots!
THE FIRST SHOOTS
Now this was fun! Our first product shoot and of course our Dog Model Shoot. We didn't hire a professional Photograher to take our photos. I love photography and generally always have my camera on hand to capture special moments, so it was decided that between myself and my partner, James, we would take the photos. I styled the set and products, and he snapped away. It took two days of shooting the products on our veranda, with dog ball throwing sessions in between for Kingsley, some rain and make-shift lighting, but we had a lot of laughs and learnt so much about the process and how tiring it is.
Our first Doggie Shoot was just the best fun! We had 8 doggies, a whole lot of doggie Mammas and each dog was allocated a few Collections or Accessories to model for us. Again, James and I were the photographers and between us leopard crawling on the grass to get some closeups, a bunch of excited dogs chasing each other around, ball throwing, yapping, a lot of treats and Mums calling instructions, we managed to get some great snaps amongst the chaos. Jenna Wade even managed to jump into the pool for a swim, after she had just been groomed, and we had to leave her until last until she had "dried out" before taking her pics.
We may look like a glamourous Brand, and of course we are... but it's been created with a lot of hard work, creativity, fun and learning along the way. We wouldn't want it any other way!
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?
Since first launching our Online Boutique on the 25th June 2019, we have managed to create and add some additional products to our Range... Strap & Chest Harnesses, Martingale Collars, Dual Leads, Alla Moda Jerseys, matching Neck Scarves for Mum, Snuggle Pods, The Lily Bed, Rattan Pet Beds & Baskets, stylish Blankets and gorgeous Doggie Stairs. Currently, we are in the final stages of design of our very own Ceramic Pet Bowls and 2023 will see the launch of our decadent MILANO Leather Collection. As long as we see a need for products, we will keep adding to our Range and ensure that our customers not only have the very best quality products, but they can come to KINGSLEY & GRAY for just about everything.
We now have a team of Artisans all working together to make KINGSLEY & GRAY beautiful, stylish, elegant, eco friendly, unique and basically just "special". When you buy a K&G Product, you can rest assured that it is being made by hand, just for you, to your specifications and that a whole lot of love and time is going into making it for you... from the very first stitch, to the very last ribbon. We love what we do and we absolutely thrive on the feedback we get from you, our very valued customers, who send us gorgeous photos of your pets wearing our products, little notes of thanks and when you come back time and again from around the world, to keep adding to your K&G Wardrobe, we feel like we're on top of the world. We may dream big, but we are really just a small Brand, trying to take the world by storm and we value each and every order that is placed with us.
So "THANK YOU", Fur-Friends, Doggie Mammas, Pappas and Feline friends, for making our dream come true and for being not just loyal customers, but part of the K&G family. We are so proud to "outfit" your fur babes x.