All Canine Everything - Made in Croatia
Interview by Dune Chambaud
JULY 11, 2018
Photography by Dune Chambaud
At LD we would like to introduce you to Maja and Viktorija, the Croatian power couple on their way to the top of a canine empire. Driven by their love for dogs and inspired by their very own, miniature Schnauzer Rhodri and Yorkshire Mo, the two charming friends went from creating a brand for canine clothing and accessories, Dawg Swag, to taking over the first national dog bakery, Hov Hov, in the country’s capital Zagreb. A Duo to follow closely!
How did you and your dogs meet for the first time?
Viktorija and I met during our college days. We bonded immediately over our love for dogs. We spent the breaks between lectures talking about all the things our dogs would do that made us laugh. But since both of our dogs are male, their first encounter didn’t go as well as we hoped it would. They started barking at each other immediately, so we had to hold them back with our hands. But we didn’t give up and the more time they would spend together, the more relaxed they became in each others company. Now they consider each other as family and even became protective of each other in front of other dogs.
Rhodri is a rare breed, how did you know about him in the first place?
A few years back, my boyfriend and I were on holidays in Hvar, when we saw a tourist couple with a small dog. We immediately stopped them to ask about that particular breed, which we’ve never seen before! Soon we found out that the breed was a Schnauzer, but a teacup size! That's when we started exploring more about the breed in general and especially the size, since it is three times smaller than a regular one. After months of research, we finally found a breeder in the US which seemed to have what we were looking for. They had all of their puppies on 24/7 WebCam, so we basically fell in love with our Rhodri online!
Can you please tell us more about your relationship with your dogs? Is there any ritual you have with them that you stick to?
When Mo goes for a walk, he has to take his favorite toy ‘George the Giraffe’ with him. As soon as I say 'Let's go for a walk', he rushes to his basket to get him. The toy is almost as big as Mo and he looks really funny holding it, especially when he wears his Dawg Swag bowtie. It’s great to see the smiles on peoples faces, when he walks by.
Rhodri has a special ritual when he pees or poops. He has his own bathroom and as soon as his business is completed, he barks for Viktorija and her boyfriend to come and see his accomplishments.
Rhodri and Mo really look like stars - did they appear in any famous campaigns or television shows yet?
Not only do they look like stars, but they act like them, too! And they’re spoiled! They perfected the art of posing, for which they are heavily rewarded with delicious treats. They starred in all Dawg Swag campaigns, they have been on national television and practically in every media outlet in Croatia. Sometimes people literally come across the street when they recognize them from TV or newspapers.
You must be shooting Rhodri and Mo quite frequently - which one is more used to the spotlight?
Both are happy when they’re in front of the camera, because they know what comes afterwards!! Treats!! Our photoshoots are practically one big ‘doggy play date’ that ends up with the most adorable photos.
Who takes care of Rhodri and Mo when you travel?
Rhodri is a real globetrotter, he’s always traveling with Viktorija, while Mo stays with his grandma, because he’s 11 years old now and feels most comfortable in his bed, surrounded by his toys.
What were your priorities when you launched Dawg Swag products? What are your future plans for the brand?
We were in desperate need of quality and nice dog clothes, since winters in Croatia tend to be quite harsh and the only clothes we could find were of poor quality and extremely overpriced. This is when we had the idea to create something on our own. We started with dog hoodies, made from 100% premium cotton, used in the production of baby clothes, and both Mo and Rhodri loved them from the start. Not only were the hoodies comfortable, they also provided protection from the cold, so it was an immediate win-win product.
Can you please explain the story behind Dawg Swag? How did it all start?
We really started Dawg Swag when we realized that there weren't any clothes on the Croatian market that were both beautiful and of good quality. We started producing hoodies and expanded our offer to raincoats, coats and dog collars and accessories. We are really proud of the fact that all of our products are made in Croatia, where we can monitor each step of the production. All collars and leashes are handmade and can be personalized by changing the accessories in different colors. Thus all dog owners can make their own combination, according to their personal style and taste.
By changing a bowtie, tie or one of the detachable strips in various colors, you’ll get a completely new look of the collar. One collar can be styled in more than 15 different ways. We wanted to make something for humans as well, so we came up with the idea of human bracelets, which could be used as leash handles as well. You can remove the handle from the Dawg Swag leash and simply attach the leash to the bracelet and walk your dog hands-free. Even when you are not together, every glance at your bracelet will remind you of your dog, in that way they are always with you.
Does your dog have a beauty routine? If yes, could you please explain it briefly ?
Both are using products from a line of natural cosmetics for dogs, Kali, made by a Croatian veterinarian. They also enjoy the grooming appointments, where they are being pampered to the maximum.
If you could describe your dog in 5 words, what would they be?
When it comes to Mo and Rhodri we would describe them as small dogs with big hearts.
You recently acquired a dog bakery Hov Hov, can you tell our readers more about this bakery? (what is your product line? etc.)
Dog bakery is a store that sells treats for dogs made from 100% natural ingredients, without salt, sugar and other unhealthy additives. Alongside the treats in different flavours, we also have brownies, muffins, cakes, tea & snacks.
We’ve also opened the first dog restaurant in Croatia as a pop up installation during the Christmas market, which was a huge hit. Dogs could come and eat à la carte dishes, enjoy desert or sip a glass of dog champagne afterwards. We had four-legged visitors from different countries.
What food do you generally advise our readers to give to their dogs?
Both our dogs are big fans of Edgar&Cooper, which is dog food made from 100% fresh meat. We simply love the story behind the brand and the fact that they are giving 10% of their proceeds to dogs in need.