A Cornish company has discovered a genuine niche for hand-made dog feeding stations, bringing quality, craftsmanship and sustainability to happy hounds and their owners across the country.
Ruffter, founded by Falmouth-based Tony Wilson, launched at the end of 2020 and became an instant success, with initial stock selling out within days; three months later and the company is already moving to larger premises to expand production.
The remarkable launch of Ruffter was a year in the planning, as Tony perfected his designs and fine-tuned his prototype, ensuring it had the pedigree to take to market.
He explains: “I’ve always loved dogs and knew I wanted to make something useful and attractively designed for fellow dog owners. I came up with the idea for the feeding stations and gradually refined the designs, which were enthusiastically tested by Arlo, our six-month old Cocker Jack Spaniel. We had to enlist the help of family and friends with bigger dogs to trial the taller prototypes!”
He continued: “The product range unites my passion for craftsmanship and creativity with my love of dogs. I’m thrilled that it has been so well received.”
Most other feeding stations on the market are made from metal and plastic and are generally imported; they are often poorly designed and constructed, and destined to be hidden away in a dark kitchen corner.
By contrast, Ruffter designs are made from furniture-grade birch plywood which is hand-sanded and finished with Danish oil.
There are currently five different designs available, all of which are practical, long-lasting and attractive – perfectly uniting form and function.
Tony is determined that Ruffter products will remain as Cornish as possible, incorporating locally-sourced materials and packaging, and using the services and skills of neighbouring businesses.
He explains: “I could get them made much cheaper in China, but that would defeat the object. It’s really important to me that the product is as sustainable as possible, is hand-finished with love and care, and makes a positive contribution to the community I’m a part of.”
Tony has already been approached by shops and wholesalers keen to stock his products, but is focused first on getting established in bigger premises and fine-tuning the production process.
He says: “I’m enjoying selling direct at the moment because we get great feedback and customers often send us pictures of their dogs enjoying their first Ruffter meal. Again, it’s that sense of community around the brand, and having a product that I’m genuinely proud of that’s really important.”
Tony hopes to introduce new designs and a wider range of products as the business grows – follow @ruffter on Facebook or @ruffter_ on Instagram to join the online community of happy hounds.